Essex pier proves a real winner

CLACTON Pier may not be an obvious subject for a non-fiction story. But for one young journalist and former resident it inspired her to write an article that has now won a prestigious national award.

CLACTON Pier may not be an obvious subject for a non-fiction story.

But for one young journalist and former resident it inspired her to write an article that has now won a prestigious national award.

Karyn Miller , 24, has won this year's Catherine Pakenham Award and £1,000 for her 2,000 word piece about the magic and intrigue surrounding the pier.

Her story ranges from the effects the pier had on her childhood to the larger-than-life characters from this century and last, who give Clacton such a colourful history.


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Miss Miller, who went to Holland Park Primary School in Clacton-on-Sea and Colchester County High School for Girls in Colchester, said when she was growing up in the seaside resort in the 80s she found the place "dull".

She said: "I grew up in Clacton but like most kids I was gagging to get away from my hometown. I never really regarded it as an inspirational place and thought it was quite boring.

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"I would never have thought it would capture my imagination."

However, on her regular Saturday trips to the British Library, where she writes short stories, Miss Miller started thinking about the artistic merit of the place as a topic.

She said: "I was doing some research about a short story I was writing about Clacton and ordered in some old tourist brochures from the 19th Century. I suddenly found that this place that I had grown up in and thought was quite dull was actually very fascinating."

After more research she found that an Ipswich entrepreneur Peter Bruff built the pier and it was once a very shaky landing dock for steamers. But the most inspirational detail she uncovered was that Clown Bertram worked there.

She said: "I found this very interesting history and names that are now forgotten. There was one person in particular that I found incredibly interesting. Clown Bertram was a children's entertainer and had owned a theatre at the end of the pier. People would come from miles around to see him.

"The ideas for my article started to umbrella out from there."

The Sunday Telegraph Catherine Pakenham Award was set up in 1970 in memory of Catherine Pakenham who was a journalist on the Telegraph Magazine when she died in a car crash, aged 23. It is designed to encourage young female journalists as they begin their careers.

Miss Miller, who now lives in Stoke-Newington, North London, used to submit articles to the East Anglian Daily Times when she was a student in Colchester. She is now the commissioning editor for Night & Day at The Mail on Sunday.

After scooping first prize in the award Miss Miller said: "This is wonderful and I really did not expect to win."

Her article will be printed in The Sunday Telegraph very soon.

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