What a year!

  • 28 December, 2020
  • On the pier


The owners of Clacton Pier are looking forward to a bright future when it
is given the go ahead to reopen when current Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

That’s the message from Billy and Elliot Ball who have weathered their
toughest time since taking over the landmark 11 years ago.

Winter storms battered the structure causing serious damage in February and
the pandemic meant income was hit hard at key times during the season.

But the pair have vowed that there is an exciting future ahead and the
landmark attraction will return stronger than ever.

“There have been many negatives but also plenty of positives during a
period which has been incredibly difficult for many businesses in Tendring,
especially those like us in the leisure and hospitality industry,” said
director Billy Ball.

“On a high note, we were named Pier of the Year in 2020 for the first
time ever – but what a year it turned out to be.

“There were some real lows, but we are bouncing back with a lot of confidence
and optimism about where we are going next.”

The aim to have the next big thrill ride open for the main season is
still very much on course.

The west side of the ride deck has already been cleared for repair work
to take place along with preparations for the Looping Star roller coaster to be

Mr Ball said that the structure of the ride will be up in the Spring and
he expects it to be operational in the summer.

“It is a significant project but provided everything goes well we should
be able to hit our target,” he added.

“The Paratrooper – which has been on the Pier since 1975 – and the
Go-Gator which arrived in 1988, will both be moving on to make room for the
Looping Star and there are other new attractions in the pipeline.

“It is always good to freshen up the ride offer and that is what we have
been working on since we completed the indoor development, which included
Discovery Bay soft play and Adventure Island Golf course.

“The Log Flume was added this summer and has proved a big hit and there
is more to come.”

Mr Ball said the damage that resulted from Storm Ciara and the tidal
surges that accompanied it were a bitter blow. Negotiations with insurers,
Aviva, are still ongoing some ten months later.

“February 14, when the damage occurred, was truly horrendous and it
presented a real challenge for us,” he said.

“That was then followed by Covid and a lockdown that lasted over three
months. Without the support of the Government and its furlough scheme and our
bankers it could well have been the end.

“We also have to thank our loyal customers and suppliers who supported
us through these tough times as we could not have done it without them.”

A Covid compliant Halloween event and the North Pole Experience at
Christmas helped to boost income.

Mr Ball added that was important as the Pier could not be just locked up
and left when forced to close due to the pandemic.

It is still necessary to keep a small team working on maintenance,
safety, and security – even when there is nothing coming through the tills.

“That is the case now as we are closed – with no date for reopening yet –
due to being in Tier 4,” he said.

“You could say we have been hit by many ‘storms’ in 2020 but it is time
to look forward to celebrating both the Pier and Clacton’s 150th
birthday in 2021.”


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