Pier’s new owners have ambitious plans to restore landmark building
- Credit: Archant
New owners of a historic pier have major plans to restore the landmark and return it to its former glory.
The family of seven received the keys to the iconic seaside structure this week as the owners look to the future.
Already the fish and chips restaurant and ice cream kiosk has reopened, with an extended amusement arcade, bar and new gift shop set to hopefully open on Saturday.
And the new owners hope that if they can attract some grant funding or financial lottery support they can get the seaward end of the pier back up and running for people to walk along it, and potentially run a ferry service between Lowestoft and Southwold.
Having marketed the prominent Lowestoft landmark on the popular South Beach since early 2018, agents Fennel Chartered Surveyors, of Halesworth, were “thrilled” that a multi-generational family would be taking on the 117-year-old pier that had previously been owned by David Scott and his family for nearly 50 years.
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Fennel Chartered Surveyors, of Halesworth, partner Jonathan Carman said: “The purchaser is a multi-generational family who will all be involved in making the Pier a success.”
The owners consist of Edward and Charmaine Mayne, their eldest child Victoria Manning and her husband Michael Manning, son Ernie Mayne as well as daughter Charmaine Llewellyn and her husband Ben Llewellyn.
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The families eight grandchildren are also helping out.
With Edward and Charmaine Mayne owning Pinky’s ice cream parlour and Micheal’s fish and chips on The Esplanade in Lowestoft, the rest of the family had visited and had been helping out with maintenance and deliveries during the recent lockdown when they spotted that the Pier was not open.
Describing a whirlwind past few months, Mrs Llewellyn said: “It has been non-stop.
“We were looking out at the pier during lockdown and we felt it would’ve been the perfect time for work to be done to get it ready for the summer.
“So we enquired about it. On June 17 we had a tour and look round, and as a big family business we made an offer the next day.
“We were lucky it was accepted and since then it has been manic.”
With the pier’s new owners working tirelessly to get the Pier open, Mrs Llewellyn said: “We hope to bring the pier back to its former glory and look towards the future.
“Obviously we are changing a few things and sticking to what we know.
“We have turned Rock Salt into a gift shop, which should be open Saturday, along with Bar 1903, and an extended arcade.
“Rock Salt will now become Pinky’s gift shop at Claremont Pier and the arcade amusements will become Lucky Lucy.
“The Zoo and The Aquarium will remain closed as we have exciting redevelopment plans for them both.”
With the extended amusement arcade, the Rollers roller skating arena – which was leased from the previous owners – will no longer be open, as they search for another venue for Rollers.
The Claremont began life in 1903 as a landing stage for Belle steamers.
And now the Pier’s new owners will be hoping to attract some grant funding or lottery financial support to extend the existing structure to its original 600ft length, and potentially run a ferry service in the future.
Mrs Llewellyn added: “Under new ownership there have been lots of changes, so come and have a look this weekend.
“Hopefully locals will support this local business.
“We will only be seasonal and so we will not be open during the winter months.
“One of the main things we are trying to see is if we can get some form of grant to bring the actual pier back up to get people walking along it.
“That would cost anything upwards of £1.5m to £3m and we never would be able to afford to do that, so we would love it if we could get some form of lottery funding to bring it back into use as it should be.
“I believe we still have got the ferry port right from here to Southwold, and to get that up and running again would be fantastic.”
Mr Carman said the pier is “a real gem,” adding that the new owners who had invested into running it were “a perfect fit” for the landmark venue.
He added: “To complete the end of the pier would be amazing for Lowestoft.”
Fennel Chartered Surveyors, of Halesworth, partner Jonathan Carman said: “I am delighted to say that after two years of marketing the Claremont Pier, Fennel Chartered Surveyors have finally secured a successful purchaser for this iconic Lowestoft property.
“The Scott family have owned the Pier for almsot 50 years and at the beginning of 2020 they appointed MHA Larking Gowen to protect their financial interests while the Pier was put into voluntary liquidation.
“Fennel Surveyors and Larking Gowen have worked tirelessly over lockdown to ensure that the sale completed in time for the summer holidays.”
Mr Carman said there had been “absolutely unbelievable interest” from operators across the country.
He said: “I have said to David Scott a number of times, whenever I come to Lowestoft I think that beach is like California - its immaculate and is looked after so well.
“The pier, in this setting, is a real gem.”
Behind the scenes
As work gathers pace behind the scenes to get the various sections open, Mrs Llewellyn said:
“Every day now we are getting more and more arcade machines delivered.
“There’s a lot to do at the moment – we’ve been here 7.30am to 9pm every day, seven days a week, as there is so much to sort out having been empty for months.
There’s a lot of things we need to change and update with workmen being in from the early hours doing different things.
“It has been unreal.”
The new arcade will feature ticket machines that can be exchanged for prizes and cash-only machines, gaming machines and “a bit of everything for all the family.”
Mrs Llewellyn added: “There is curently no over 18 section, as we need a separate licence for that to be in place.
“We are hoping to move the over-18 section into their own separate area away from families.
“Nightclubs cannot open as it stands anyway, so we are still thinking of ideas for what we can do upstairs.
“We were thinking of a bowling alley, and would be keen to find out the thoughts of locals and if they would like that?”