‘Dead in the water’ pier project in Withernsea is rescued thanks to firm’s offer

A steel stockholder has helped save plans for a new pier in Withernsea after the project was described as being “practically dead in the water”.
Withernsea beach by the Pier Towers  Picture: Jonathan GawthorpeWithernsea beach by the Pier Towers  Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Withernsea beach by the Pier Towers Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Withernsea Pier and Promenade Association aims to create a 500ft pier eventually – smaller than the original of 1877, which lasted less than 30 years after being hit by a number of ships.

The first stage, creating a viewing platform, was due to start last March, but got tied up in red tape.

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The project, which has taken six years and raised £269,000 so far, was then nearly scuppered by spiralling steel prices – which have doubled in less than a year - partially because of energy prices and also the war in Ukraine – Mariupol’s Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, where Ukrainian fighters are holding out, was one of the largest in Europe.

A view of the pier in 1880A view of the pier in 1880
A view of the pier in 1880

The association approached Thirsk firm Cleveland Steel & Tubes Ltd which has agreed to offer a substantial discount on the price of their piling steel to help start the project.

Paul Thornton, chair of the association, said that without the firm’s help “we would probably be sunk”.

He added: “Ultimately we are looking to turn Withernsea round. The pier is a regeneration project aiming to generate footfall.

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“Ninety-eight per cent of businesses have become members or put in money for the project.

“The only frustration has been the delays. We have gone through a lot of false dawns, and we don’t want this to be another false dawn.

“At this point in time I can’t foresee any issues standing in our way preventing us from going ahead.”

The Thirsk firm stockpiles 80,000 tonnes of steel which are surplus to or from cancelled oil pipeline projects.

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Roy Fishwick, the firm's managing director, said: "It's a great Yorkshire regeneration project that hits our sweet spot for materials and sustainability.

"There's 60 or 70 tonnes of carbon being saved versus them building it out new."

The group is now waiting for their two main funders – Lottery-funded Withernsea Big Local and East Coast Communities – to release the money they need in the hope of starting work on the viewing platform this year, most likely in September.

The first stage of the work, which will take around six weeks involves removing the rock armour, doing the piling and replacing the rock armour.

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There have been hopes it could get started this spring, but the timescale is getting ever tighter, as it has to be completed for the start of the summer season on June 1.

Committee member Rachel Larsen, whose husband Torkel came across the original drawings for the pier when they were clearing out their house, said there had been times when all association members wanted to quit.

East Riding Council threw a spanner in the works last year, she said, when its estates department got involved, after it had gone successfully through planning and building control.

She said: “Right at the last moment they said they had 67 queries on the drawings. We came back within two weeks and they said as a result of these answers we have another 20 queries and we want to see the piling drawings. It has been so hard to keep going with every little problem we keep having.

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“We still keep seeing light at the end of the tunnel. It would be so nice to have a positive news story.”

Supporter Phil Mathison said: “With rapidly increasing material costs, we really thought we were going to be struggling, and we are very thankful to Cleveland Steel.

"The project has gone from practically dead in the water to extremely alive.”

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