Pier owner sets sights on winter boost as key summer season draws to close
- Credit: Kevin Jay
A “steady” flow of visitors this season has helped boost the fortunes of an Essex seaside attraction — after it took a big hit from the pandemic last year.
Clacton Pier continued its 150th anniversary celebrations with live music and a fireworks display over the late August bank holiday as it rode the wave of the UK’s staycation boom.
But pier owner Billy Ball admitted the weather wasn’t at its best as the school holidays drew to a close as he sets his sights on drawing more visitors all year round.
“It was a better season than last year — but it could hardly have been any worse,” he said.
“The weather wasn’t the best, but people still made their way to the coast. Many people holidayed and took breaks in the UK this summer and we benefited from that change of habit. Hopefully it may have set a bit of a trend for at least a while.
“We definitely needed that boost after last year and we must now continue to provide the attractions that will keep people coming back to the pier as a venue.”
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The pier enjoyed “good numbers” across the three days of the bank holiday weekend — with a free fireworks display on Sunday evening among the attractions, he said.
But difficulty in sourcing workers has been among the headaches he has faced.
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Despite this he felt positive about the summer overall — and about the future of the venue.
But Covid restrictions meant it had not been possible to put on as many events as he would have liked to mark the landmark’s 150th anniversary.
“However, three new rides have been introduced in 2021, including our Elegant Wheel Experience, and we put on fireworks extravaganzas every week of the school holiday for the first time,” he said.
“These have been very much appreciated and our overall feedback has been excellent. It has been a difficult period for all those in the leisure and hospitality sector — especially with recruiting enough staff — but we have battled through.”
The team at the pier is now preparing for autumn and winter with a host of events such as a Halloween Festival and Christmas activities.
“Since expanding our indoor facilities we are now a truly all year-round business and we have to make the most of that significant investment,” said Mr Ball.
“The only day we close is Christmas Day and families are now used to heading to the Pier to enjoy Discovery Bay Soft Play, Skull Point Adventure Golf, the Seaquarium and other undercover attractions outside of the main season.”