Clacton Pier's 'Jolly Roger’ pavilion to be brought back to life as home to a travelling circus

by Nigel Brown May 09 2018 1     851
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May 1, 2017

The first ever significant building to be put up on Clacton Pier is to be brought back to life as home to a travelling circus.

The Jolly Roger – or Pier Pavilion as it was known then – was built in1881 and it is to revert back to its former roots as a popular entertainment venue.

It will be the first time that it has been fully open to the public for around 30 years and work is now being completed ready for the family shows which will begin at Whitsun weekend (May 27/28/29).

The non-animal circus featuring acrobats, clowns and a traditional water show will operate over the nine days of the Whitsun holiday ( May 27 to June 4) and every single day during the entire school summer holidays.

There will be three shows a day at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm with seating for about 300 people.

Pier Director Billy Ball said it is something the company has been looking at ever since his family bought the site eight years ago.

“The Jolly Roger holds a very special place in our hearts and in the hearts of many,” he said. “We have been continually asked when we are going to do something with it and bring it back to life.

“Well, that day is just a matter of weeks away now and we have reinvested in this historic building. It is a very usable space with huge potential and I know this initiative will be welcomed by many town residents and those who remember the Jolly Roger as it was in its heyday.”

It took staff three weeks over Christmas to empty the structure of a whole host of Pier memorabilia, most of which was sold off at auction. Some went to specialist dealers.

“It was the Jolly Roger’s introduction that made Clacton Pier into a true leisure pier, rather than just a working platform,” added Mr Ball.

“It was called the Pier Pavilion at first and then the Jollity before becoming the Jolly Roger and we are considering launching a competition to rename it for the future.”

Circus Fantasia – who are based in March, Cambridgeshire and operate all over East Anglia – have been signed up to provide the shows.

Mr Ball said the company has a number of expansion plans in the pipeline for the Pier, which is Europe’s largest leisure pier at 6.5 acres, and the first structure to be built in Clacton.

It currently employs more than 200 people, about 50 of which are full-time.

“There are exciting times coming and we are continually looking to reinvest money into the Pier,” added Mr Ball. “We will be looking to revel more over the next few months.”

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