‘We own the pier’ - group celebrates major step in £300k Suffolk regeneration project

The Shotley Heritage Charitable Community Benefit Society Ltd is celebrating after buying Shotley Pi

The Shotley Heritage Charitable Community Benefit Society Ltd is celebrating after buying Shotley Pier. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A deal which is hoped to breathe new life into Suffolk’s only railway pier was agreed today after months of fundraising by the community.

The Shotley Heritage Charitable Community Benefit Society Ltd has completed the purchase of the historic Shotley Pier - with the group now seeking volunteers and grants to complete its renovation over the next five years.

More than 500 people have invested in the project by buying shares through the Booster Programme funded by Power to Change and Co-operatives UK.

The share scheme, which is intended to support and stimulate public involvement in projects, meant the £62,015 raised since its launch in December 2016 was doubled, allowing the group to buy the pier and cover costs.

The group is now re-launching the community share offer to “Renovate the Pier”.

Vice chairman Sally Chicken said: “The smallest purchase of one share for £25 has ensured that people from all walks of life could become members of the society and become part owners of the pier. The group is now seeking more volunteers and grants to get started on complete renovation of the pier, which is expected to take about five years.”

Once the £300,000 project is completed, the pier is hoped to become a working attraction where people can “stroll, fish, and enjoy the amazing views”.

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Built in 1894 by the Marquis of Bristol, the pier was first used to carry mail and later munitions for the Royal Navy.

Along with the Bristol Arms pub and HMS Ganges, it featured in Arthur Ransome’s children’s book We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea The 600ft pier also operated a foot ferry and has been used by fishermen, barge owners and local people to go across the bay.

However it fell into disrepair at the turn of the last century, prompting the community to step up efforts for its restoration.

The group thanked Babergh District Council for paying for a survey and awarding a £20,000 economic development grant.

The purchase was delayed due to a complication, which required a separate purchase of the “hammerhead” section from the Crown Estate. Mrs Chicken said this was made possible due to the group’s “charitable” status, which was approved last month. It also means the group is exempt from VAT on many purchases.

Mrs Chicken said the group was “delighted” to qualify.

Email Shotely Pier for information about how to get involved.