'Intricate' Birnbeck set for repairs?
PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 November 2015
LONG-AWAITED work to repair crumbling Birnbeck Pier is finally set to start after an engineering company assessed the full extent of the damage to the structure this week.
Civil engineering firm Mann Williams inspected the site on Tuesday and will now determine how much it will cost to carry out a structural survey on the grade II* listed pier.
The firm has also been asked by the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust to work out the price of refurbishing the pier’s bridge and clock tower.
The trust is battling to save Birnbeck and return the pier to its former Victorian glory.
Its aims are supported by the pier’s owner, CNM Estates, which has agreed in principle to lease Birnbeck to the trust on a 25-year basis.
CNM chairman Wahid Samady is also paying for this first round of structural works to take place.
Trust volunteer Andy Mason said one of the purposes of the site visit was to see how much damage had been done to the pier since it was last inspected in 2004.
He said: “Mann Williams surveyed Birnbeck back in 2004 but the company is now coming back to assess it again, bearing in mind nothing has happened to the pier in 11 years.
“It was found to be in a reasonable condition last time, but obviously the weather has taken its toll and it has deteriorated a long way since.”
Mann Williams said the purpose of its visit on Tuesday was to photograph and assess as many parts of the pier as possible to see how much it has deteriorated during the past 11 years.
The firm also said it was important to look at the pier’s poor state as a whole, rather than in individual segments – and admitted that ‘piecemeal’ repairs would not work.
Engineer Peter Hall said: “It is such an intricate pier and half of it is already nearly lost.
“It is a very awkward structure to survey without scaffolding underneath, but piecemeal repairs aren’t going to work and we cannot really see what needs to be done until we have had a proper look.
“The next big step would be to assess what works need to be done in the short-term.
“A set of costs can then be worked out for the long-term repair as we move into the future.
“The most important thing is that it doesn’t get worse before we get a chance to make it better.”
The trust is required to carry out a structural survey and feasibility study on the pier before it submits a bid for funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund. It needs to raise at least £80,000 to pay for the study.
For more information or to volunteer for the trust, visit the trust’s website or visit the Pier View information centre in Birkett Road.