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A Short History of Blackpool North Pier
Residents met in December 1861 to discuss a new pier and work began in June 1862. Designed by Eugenius Birch, it opened on May 21st 1863. A landing/fishing jetty was added in 1866 and extended in 1869, bringing the pier’s length to 1410 feet. The pier was damaged in 1867 by wreckage from Nelson’s former flagship, the ‘Foudroyant’, which had been moored off the pier for an exhibition. In the 1870s, the pier-head was enlarged and the Indian Pavilion and bandstand were built. There were further ship collisions with the pier in 1892 and 1897. The deck was widened in 1896, and shops and an arcade were added to the shoreward end in 1903.
The Indian Pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1921, but a new pavilion was built, unfortunately also being destroyed by fire in 1938. However, a new 1500 seat theatre was completed in 1939. Also in the 1930s, the bandstand became the sun lounge. In the 1960s, amusements and the Merrie England bar were opened. In the 1980s, £350,000 was spent rebuilding the entrance in Victorian style, and in 1991, a 35 foot carousel and a pier tramway were installed. There were helicopter rides from the jetty, which re-opened in 1991 after severe storm damage in 1987. Leisure excursions resumed in September 1992 when MV Balmoral called at the jetty.
The pier suffered further, severe storm damage in December 1997, severing the jetty from the main structure and leaving the pier theatre perilously close to the edge. The owners did not propose to repair the damage, instead pledging £1,000,000 towards general improvement of this listed structure. The North Pier still had much to offer, from its majestic theatre and the beautiful Carousel bar, through the Sunlight Lounge and traditional carousel ride, right up to the top of the pier with its arcade amusements and Merrie England Bar.
Then in April 2011, the pier was sold by Six Piers Ltd to Blackpool family firm, Sedgwick's, which also owned amusement arcades and the big wheel on Blackpool's Central Pier. Mr Sedgwick vowed to restore the pier to its former Victorian look, bring back its tram and remove the entrance tolls. In September 2011, the theatre was closed and the summer show cancelled to enable the backstage renovation work and modernisation of dressing rooms and windows to begin. Work was completed and the theatre relaunched in November 2011.