Keen-eyed residents will have spotted machinery being moved by barge to the end of Southend Pier so supports can be put in place ahead of a new public toilet block being built.
The piling barges will be at the pier head for roughly ten weeks as work is done to put new support piles, steel beams and bracing in place, to help provide additional support for the iconic seafront structure.
The structural support is taking place ahead of building work to install new public toilets to replace the original toilet block destroyed by fire in 2005 and includes a viewing gallery on the floor above.
Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for public protection and responsible for pier and foreshore, said: “This is part of the cabinet’s commitment to invest £2.5 million into Southend-on-Sea Pier, the jewel of the town’s crown.
“As the longest pleasure pier in the world, it is vitally important there are enough public toilets in place for residents and visitors, and I am delighted that we continue to see an impressive number of visitors to our pier.
“This work was undertaken following consultation with residents, who told us they wanted more facilities and attractions at the end of the pier. Seeing the piling barges in place is the first step to getting those improvements underway.”
The work will be carried out in the early morning, causing as little disruption as possible, reducing the noise disturbance, and allowing the pier to open to the general public as normal. Once the support has been strengthened, work will start in autumn to build the new toilet block
The toilet block is one of several initiatives taking place to improve the pier, following the council’s cabinet agreement to invest in the tourist attraction.
The Royal Pavilion is now able to offer sit down meals following kitchen, bar and serving area improvements. Early autumn will see the arrival of the new electric pier trains, replacing the existing diesel trains which have been running since 1986 with eco-friendly trains, designed in heritage green and cream following a public vote.
Then, as well as the viewing platform above the toilet block, additional wind breaks will also be put in place.