A significant programme of works to renovate the pier and provide a new lifeboat station will be phased over several years. This will be funded through a variety of sources including the RNLI, Historic England and other grants. North Somerset Council and the RNLI will work closely with, and be guided by, Historic England in order to collaborate and secure specific grants and trusts reserved for restoration and community projects to fund the venture.cf
The Council has been working for some time to secure a future for the Pier and announced in June 2020 that the RNLI were looking to move their life-saving operations back to the island, significantly improving their access to the water.
Cllr Mark Canniford, Executive Member for Placemaking and Economy, at North Somerset Council, said: “Thanks to the huge amount of work behind the scenes, we have finally reached this significant milestone and taken a massive step towards restoring Birnbeck. The private owner has agreed to sell the pier to the council, and we are keen to acquire Birnbeck as soon as possible. I am delighted that we have been able to avoid the CPO process, which would have been overly complex and time consuming. Together with the RNLI and Historic England, we have found a solution that will allow us to renovate this stunning piece of Victorian architecture, bring the RNLI back to their original home, and welcome the public onto the pier again. There’s a great deal of work to do but this is the start of us finally able to begin plans to restore this treasured site.”
Duncan Macpherson, RNLI Principal Estates Manager said; “The RNLI is extremely grateful for the support and commitment of North Somerset Council in its determination to secure a long-term base for the RNLI’s lifesaving in Weston-super-Mare. This announcement comes after many months of collaborative work between the two organisations and while the funding and engineering involved in such a project is incredibly challenging, the Council taking ownership of Birnbeck is an essential to the RNLI’s ambition to re-establish a lifesaving facility on the island.”
Ross Simmonds, Acting Regional Director at Historic England, said: “Birnbeck Pier is one of the longest standing and most important cases for Historic England here in the Southwest.”
We are delighted that the council have secured the ownership of the pier and with the RNLI, we will continue to work closely with all partners to help rescue this outstanding and much-loved structure.”
Birnbeck Pier is one of only six Grade II* piers surviving in the country. There are four further Grade II structures and buildings located on the island and the landward end of the site.
The pier was designed by Eugenius Birch, the noted Victorian engineer.
Construction took place between 1862 and 1867, with the foundation stone being laid in 1864 and opening to the public from 1866. The pier closed to the public for safety reasons in 1994.