The role of amusement attractions in the seaside economy was put into sharp focus last week when Clacton Pier opened its doors for the first time since the turn of the year. To say the east coast town was overwhelmed would be an understatement. Coinslot looks back over the nine days since Clacton was set free.
Visitors have described their joy at being able to return to Clacton Pier this month, hailing the chance to visit the Essex landmark once more as “heaven.”
Families began returning to the pier on 12 April as lockdown restrictions ease, with many keen to see the latest developments and improvements at Number One North sea.
“We come down here mainly with the grandchildren at least once a month,” local resident Deborah Martin told the BBC. “It has been quite a while since we’ve been able to come here.”
“It is heaven really to be back to normal a little bit. They say they are doing a few things up here, so there should be nice new rides ready in the summer.”
Fellow resident Keely Massheder said “it is lovely to be able to do things with the kids – [lockdown] has been horrible for them. As soon as we saw the pier we were like, ‘yes’.”
Pier manager Pierre Oxley was also happy to see the attraction reopened, telling the BBC that “people are just over the moon to be out and able to do something.”
“We’re looking forward to a busy weekend. The next big milestone will be 17 May when we can reopen our indoor attractions. We’re hoping ‘staycations’ will be the thing for people this year. We’re working so hard to get our attractions back up and running.”
Having a Ball: Pier welcomes back guests “in their droves”
Clacton Pier enjoyed a “huge boost” last weekend, with high visitor numbers on Saturday and Sunday following an encouraging first week of reopening.
With the Boardwalk Bar and Grill serving outdoors, and the ride deck back in action, the pier welcomed back guests “in their droves” for its first weekend of 2021.
“We would normally only have the rides open on Saturday and Sunday at this time, but we took the gamble of operating them through the week and it paid off,” said director Billy Ball.
“Schools in London were still off, as were others in the region. Families decided to make the most of the fine weather and we were really pleased to be able to welcome them.”
“I think people were just glad to have a bit of freedom and normality back in their lives.”
Clacton Pier’s rides will continue to operate from 12 to 6pm on weekdays, and from 11am to 6pm at weekends.