Freezing weather forces closure of Southport Pier

Southport Pier is closed to the public ‘until further notice’ as freezing temperatures cause ‘significant and unavoidable damage’ to the Victorian structure. Tony McDonough reports

Southport Pier
Southport Pier is being closed temporality to the public


Freezing temperatures have caused “significant and unavoidable damage” to Southport Pier forcing Sefton Council to close it “until further notice”.

Cold weather and ice have caused damage to the pier’s decking boards. A build up of ice from coastal winds has also made the surface treacherous underfoot. Following repeated inspections over the past 48 hours a decision was made to temporarily close the pier.

Since its construction in 1860, Southport Pier has been the focal point of the town’s seaside heritage. 

Silent movie legend Charlie Chaplin has visited and it was used as a base for searchlights during World War II. It is the oldest iron pier in the country and the second longest after Southend Pier.

In August this year Sefton Council announced a £3m upgrade of the wooden decking along its entire 1.1km length. This work will see the installation of 56 miles of decking boards.

A spokesperson for Sefton Council said: “Council officers and contractors had hoped to ensure the pier remained open to the public during these works.

“However the current extremely cold weather, which has seen temperatures so low that the sea at Ainsdale and Birkdale froze in places, has caused additional damage to the decking.

“Moisture within the planks and joists has frozen causing the decking to lift away from its fixings and we are concerned this could present a safety issue to anyone attempting to walk down the pier.

“The decking has also become incredibly slippery, meaning it is treacherous to walk on. While we do not take this decision lightly, the temporary closure of Southport Pier is wholly necessary to keep people safe.

“We fully appreciate this may come as a blow to concessionaires on and around the pier. However, we are confident that they, like the council, would not want anyone to be put at risk of harm by venturing onto the pier in current conditions.”

Repairs to the Pier date back to as early as 1890. During its long history it has fallen victim to powerful storm damage, boat crashes and numerous fires in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In 2018, extensive repairs and repainting works were carried out by Sefton Council to the pier’s steelwork to combat corrosion from the sea.

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