The longest pleasure pier in the world extends 1.34 miles into the Thames Estuary from Southend’s Western Esplanade seafront. Entrance from the eastern side is open and inviting, showcasing the two-level pier access for both pedestrians and the iconic pier-train. However, the western side was not of the same standard. Old, poorly maintained sliding shutter doors opened on to a maze of old slot-machines and a cramped arcade that had seen better days.


Southend Borough Council put together a design team comprising Southend Property Regeneration Group, Crucis Designs and Baines + Partners. They devised a new layout which removed the old arcade and provided a new, bright and welcoming pier entrance. This houses a small refreshments area, a relocated information desk and provided new public toilets within the open concourse area. The scheme required liaison with the neighbouring Adventure Island pleasure park in order to maintain a store area below the entrance.   

Project challenges

During the project, we had to maintain uninterrupted access (except for brief, stipulated closure periods) so the public could use the pier train and walkway. A.W. Hardy created a ramped and stepped external access to the new entrance, accommodating the multitude of different levels in and around the pier entrance. In addition, we provided and installed replacement pier decking boards, creating an impressive vista for visitors to this famous landmark.

On time and on budget

A.W. Hardy is pleased to have undertaken this prestigious project and restored a cherished asset for a valuable and long-established client. The scheme was delivered within budget and the prescribed contract period, ensuring it was ready for the new holiday season.