RNLI leaving Birnbeck is ‘final nail in the coffin’

The old seating and balustrades rotting and falling into the sea.

The old seating and balustrades rotting and falling into the sea. - Credit: Archant

THE RNLI’s departure from Birnbeck is the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for the Pier according to the man who spent 17 years trying to save it.

The lifesaving charity announced last Monday that it would be leaving due to safety concerns, and moving to a temporary facility on Knightstone Island.

Mike Davies, of the National Piers Society, said he has tried to have the structure put into a charitable trust or not-for-profit organisation.

He said: “I feel this exit will negate any attempt to save the old pier and we will lose a wonderful piece of seaside architecture.

“This is going to be the final nail in the coffin.

“I think to be truly honest it’s got to the state where we cannot save it.

“You can save anything if you throw enough money at it. But I don’t think I can see that happening now.”

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Dr George Papworth, a former medical officer for the RNLI and now president of fundraising, said if Birnbeck was developed and restored it would still be the best place to launch a lifeboat.

He said: “If you owned the pier you would not want it to be in the state it’s in now.

“Once it’s fallen into the sea or part-collapsed it becomes an even more expensive proposition.

“For people born in Weston it is part of their heritage.

“There have been so many improvements along the seafront, but Birnbeck Pier and the Tropicana are two blights on the landscape.

“In my view, restoring the pier will be a very, very expensive exercise. I cannot see it being done.

“Anyone doing it for commercial reasons is unlikely to recoup the outlay.

“If there was a chance of restoring it, it needs English Heritage grants or lottery funding, and there are preconditions for that.

“As I understand it, private ownership makes it ineligible for a grant.”