Worthing Pier was last voted best in the UK 12 years ago – but after three years of finishing second in the National Piers Society annual awards, the iconic structure slipped to third in the voting last month.
Reclaiming the title in 2019 would be long overdue – and the pier’s push to top the rankings has been boosted by a community initiative which will give the society around 90 reasons why our pier is number one.
Since Worthing Journal editor Paul Holden launched the Windows on the Pier scheme just over two years ago, readers have purchased scores of fused and stained glass windows.
Revitalising the tired-looking central windbreak between the Pavilion Theatre and amusement arcade, the colourful creations mark everything from historic events in the town’s history to remembering loved ones who have passed away.
Dozens have been ordered by charities and community groups keen to showcase their causes.
Paul said: “The response has been astonishing.
“It has become a real tourist attraction, attracting wonderful comments from residents and visitors alike. Two windows commemorate a Lancaster bomber crewman who went on to serve in Vulcans.
“Another remembers Worthing Victoria Cross winner Montague Moore.
“Famous shipwrecks are also commemorated, plus the 100th anniversary of the Great War.”
Three glass artists – Siobhan Jones, based at The Forge Gallery, High Street, and Chris Brown and Naomi Francis – have worked on the windows and are getting a steady stream of orders.
Paul reserved praise for Worthing Borough Council, which helped install each individual window.
He said: “They have been brilliant, providing a carpenter free of charge to install them.
“The aim is to create a cathedral of coloured glass on the pier, which is, in my opinion, the finest pier in the country.” The windows project is the latest recent improvement to the pier.
In 2014, businessman Phil Duckett transformed the Southern Pavilion from a dilapidated, disused former nightclub into a wow-factor wedding venue, taking full advantage of the stunning sea views.
Community group Creative Waves runs an Art on the Pier project, with one of the windbreaks currently featuring artwork for people to take seaside selfies with (see picture below).
To win Pier of the Year, piers must be open to the public and should not have won the award within the last five years to be eligible. Southsea South Parade Pier took the gong this year, with Felixstowe in second. Worthing missed out to Hastings, Cleethorpes and Cromer in 2017, 2016 and 2015 respectively.
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