Brothers celebrate 10 years at the helm

  • 20 March, 2019
  • On the pier


Ten years ago, two brothers in their twenties took
over the ownership of Clacton Pier after putting a financial deal together.

Billy, then 28, and Elliot Ball, then 25,
bought the iconic attraction from the Harrison family who had been in charge
since 1994.

The Balls got to work virtually from day one
stripping out the arcade and making changes aimed at rejuvenating the fortunes
of the business and taking it to a new level.

A decade on and the two directors can be proud
of what they have achieved – transforming the Pier, creating a sustainable 52
week a year attraction which brings in more than 500,000 customers each year.

Billy Ball is the first to admit it has been
far from plain sailing and it is only with the support of the Pier “family” that
they have manged to pull it off.

“I can well remember those first few weeks
when Elliot and I got stuck in pulling things down and finding out what we were
really up against,” he said.

“I think it is fair to say that the Pier had
suffered from under investment over many years, but people do not realise how
much money is needed just to repair and maintain a structure that is now more
than 147-years-old. That is before you even look to bring in improvements!

“We had our father, Billy Ball Snr, and other members
of the family in the background – as well as the wider family of our staff
committed to our dream – and it has been a case of sheer hard work and
determination from many to get where we are today.

“There have been very long hours on site,
sleepless nights, meetings with banks and advisors along the way but it has all
been worth it.”

The first statement of intent was to bring in
the helter skelter, followed by a complete refit of the Boardwalk Bar, introduction
of bowling lanes, new rides such as Stella’s Revenge and the Miami.

The former dilapidated swimming pool which had
previously been home to Killer Whales and other sea life, was mainly filled in.
The area was then occupied by go-karts and bumper boats.

More recently the brothers drew up plans for a
major development.

The first phase of this was completed last
July and involved Skull Point adventure golf, Discovery Bay soft play, Dockside
Dodgems, the Galley Restaurant and Captain’s Table Takeaway.

Phase two is now almost finished with the
whole of the front section of the Pier being enclosed and made weather tight so
the it can be used for winter events; a new adult gaming area and other significant

In the future the goal is to refurbish the
Jolly Roger, the Pier’s oldest building, for multi-purpose uses such as
conferences, weddings, sporting and community events. It is currently home to a
circus and the idea is for that to continue.

Elliot Ball said that the business needs to carry
on offering even more to its customers.

“You simply cannot afford to standstill and we
are still as driven today as we were when we took the Pier over on March 16,
2009,” he added.

“We never saw this as a project to upgrade the
attraction and sell it on. We are in it for the long haul and it is part of a family

“It is all about creating something special in
memory of our father and believe he would be proud of what we have achieved. But,
as he taught us, you cannot rest on your laurels and we look forward to the
next ten years and the challenges that will come our way.”

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