Southend Pier welcomed 156,494 visitors in the first half of 2017 – smashing visitor numbers for the same period of any year since before the pier was ravaged by fire in 2005.
The previous record for first-half-year visitor numbers was in 2014, with 145,860 visitors.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is putting the increasing popularity of the pier down to a combination of an improving visitor offer, increasing visitors to the town overall and recent good weather.
Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy, said: “The surge in visitor numbers is extremely promising and a ringing endorsement of the hard work that has gone into developing our visitor offer.
“Last year saw the introduction of ‘cultural beach huts’ on the pier, which have remained this year, with some now operating as concession stalls at the pier head and selling food, drinks and souvenirs. This was in addition the introduction of crazy golf and the refurbishment of the Royal Pavilion café under a new operator with a better menu.
“Other highlights this year will be an Only Fools and Horses Exhibition opening at the western entrance of the pier later this week, paddle-steamer The Waverley taking visitors to and from the pier from various destinations in the South East and London and a passenger ferry trialling a new service from Sheppey to Southend Pier.”
Bigger and bolder plans are in place for the year ahead. Work on extending the pier entrance to create a bigger, better welcome for visitors commences after the summer season and an architect is soon to be appointed to develop plans for a visitor centre on the former bowling deck.
First-half-year visitor numbers
The table below shows the first-half annual visitor numbers for the pier over the last ten years.
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
100,225 109,771 105,939 94,831 104,510 83,434 114,586 145,860 136,137 124,336 156,494