Pier Hill

Pier Hill Buildings

The

land

lying

between

the

Pier

and

the

Shrubbery

was

utilised

for

a

new

building

in

the

1890s,

up

till

now

little

development

had

been

undertaken,

the

site

consisted

of

a

few

old

wooden

built

huts,

including

a

few

shops,

a

café

and

Ingram’s

hot

baths.

With

increasing

visitors

and

the

construction

of

the

new

iron

Pier

the

Southend

Corporation

Pier

Committee

announced

a

competition

(The

Pier

Hill

Improvement

Scheme

Competition)

companies

were

asked

to

submit

ideas

on

what

should

be

built.

Mr

Thompson

(of

the

firm

of

Thompson

and

Greenhalgh,

a

well

known

firm

of

local

architects)

competed

in

the

competition,

and

his

scheme

was

selected.

The

winning

design

boasted,

Baths,

Promenades,

Shelters,

Arcade,

Bandstand,

Reading

Rooms

and

Clock

Tower

at

a

cost

of

£18,710.

In

1896

the

stone

laying

ceremony

was

performed

by

Mrs

A.

Prevost

and

finally

opened

in

1898.

The

sea

baths

became

famous

throughout

the

country.

Several

of

the

leading

professional

London

football

clubs

sent

their

teams

there

when

preparing

for

their

more

important

cup

matches.

Additions

to

the

sea

baths

and

other

parts

were

provided

later

at

a

cost

of

£12,150.

In

the

1930s

the

Bandstand

with

clock

tower

was

removed

and

moved

to

Chalkwell Park.

Over the years the use of the building changed, it became a tourist information centre and the Pier Foreshore offices, the arcade opened as an aquarium in the 1960s. In the early 1970s the building closed and was demolished in 1977 to make way for the Pier Hill green.

2020 Statue of Queen Victoria Clifftown Parade

Southend Timeline Southend-on-Sea © 2009 - 2021 All Rights Reserved

The

statue

of

Queen

Victoria

was

presented

to

the

town

to

mark

the

Queen’s

Diamond

Jubilee in 1897.

The

Memorial

of

Her

Majesty’s

glorious

Reign

was

a

gift

from

the

Ex-Mayor,

Mr

Bernard

Wilshire

Tolhurst,

which

was

executed

by

J.

M.

Swynnerton

at

his

studios

in

Rome.

The

memorial

statue,

pedestal

and

steps

was

made

of

Carrara

Marble,

the

whole

work

standing

something

over

twenty

feet

in

height.

The

Queen

is

seated

in

a

chair

holding

in

her

left

hand

a

sceptre

and

pointing

with

her

right

over

the

sea.

The

original

position

selected

was

at

the

end

of

the

High

Street

facing

the

mouth

of

the

Thames

so

as

to

command

the

view

of

passing

vessels.

The

pedestal

and

chair

are

Gothic

in

design

-

Tudor

period

-

the

drawings

were made by Mr. Edward Goldie, F.S.B.A.

In

1962

the

statue

was

moved

from

Pier

Hill

to

a

new

location

in

Clifftown

Parade

where

Her

Royal

Highness

is

still

today,

facing

the

Thames

pointing

out

over

the

sea.

On

23rd

August

1974

the

statue

was

put

onto

the

national

listed

buildings

register

by

the

English

Heritage

organisation.

In

1989

the

Council

of

Southend

received

an

offer

from

the

city

of

Victoria

in

British

Columbia,

Canada

to

purchase

and

ship

the

statue

to

a

new

location

outside

their

Provincial

Government

offices

but

the

request

was

rejected.

In

March

2011

there

was

a

proposal

to

move

the

statue

to

the

newly

updated

Victoria

Circus

(Victoria

Gateway), this was also rejected.

Unfortunately

the

statue

has

been

subject

to

vandalism

over

the

years

mostly

with

her

pointing

hand,

her

finger

and

hand

has

been

broken

off

many

times.

In

October

2008

Southend

based

Bedini

&

Sons

sculptures

carved

a

new

hand

from

Carrara

Marble,

only

for

her finger to be broken off again. The statue was professionally cleaned in 2016.

1898 Statue of Queen Victoria Pier Hill

Royal Hotel In 1791, under the promotion of Thomas Holland, the Grand Terrace, Grand Hotel and Library were built on a prominent ridge to the west of the ‘Old Town’. The scheme also included Assembly and Coffee Rooms. The Terrace and Hotel was completed in 1793 and opened on the evening of the 8th July with a ball attended by 170 distinguished guest. Although the resort soon began to attract residents and visitors progress was slow, Thomas Holland, who had the Hotel and nine of the houses adjacent, was carrying a heavy financial responsibility. It was the period of the French wars when there was constant fear of a landing on these coast by the enemy. in May and June 1797 during the period of mutiny at the Nore the Ship Hotel was one of the Headquarters of the leaders of the mutiny. It was recorded that no depredation whatever was committed at South End by the sailors, but that the town had received few visitors during the spring owing to the fear of disturbances. The summer of 1797 Holland was unable to meet his commitments. A sale was held of “all the effects at the Hotel, Tavern, Assembly Room, and nine large dwellings Houses, on the Terrace, at New South End, Late the property of Thomas Holland.” In June 1800, the buildings and estate of New South End were sold by auction in London, described as A Leasehold Estate the sale consisted of the Capital Hotel and Assembly Room with all it’s appurtenances, and fifteen substantial well built convenient houses, with gardens, enclosed by brick walls, coach house and stables; delightfully situated on a noble Promenade (enclosed with post and chain). Also sold “a Gothic Building, intended for a Public Library; a range of coach houses in the High Street; and eight houses in Market Street.” The bulk of the estate passed into the possession of Mr. James Heygate, whose son, Sir William Heygate was mainly responsible for the passing of the Southend Pier Bill thirty years later, Other purchasers of houses on the Terrace were Sir T. M Wilson, Bart, Lady Langham, Mr. J. T. Hope, and other families, some of whom resided at South End for the greater part of the year. The Terrace, and the Hotel which was also called the “Capital” was renamed “Royal” following the visit to the Upper Town, of Princess Caroline. The Royal Terrace and Royal Hotel are still standing and in use today avoiding demolition and the redevelopment.

The Statue of Queen Victoria

The Shrubbery

The

area

called

“The

Shrubbery”

is

an

piece

of

land

in

front

of

the

Royal

Terrace

which

runs

down

to

Western

Esplanade

west

of

Pier

Hill.

It

was

an

area

of

beauty

and

well

kept

grounds

with

its

entrance

from

the

promenade.

There

was

an

admission

fee

to

enter,

in

1898

the

cost

was

3d,

each

person,

but

weekly

family

tickets

could

be

obtained

for

1s.

This

area

was

later

to

become

the

site

for

Never

Never

Land

which

opened

in

1935,

it’s

most

busiest

period

being

in

the

1950s,

in

1972

it

closed

and

Never

Never

Land

was

removed,

the

area

returned

to

as

it

was

before

but

this

time

it

was

free

to

enter.

In

1987

a

new

look

Never

Never

Land

came

back

to

the

shrubbery

at

a

cost

of

£250,000,

by

2001

dwindling

visitors,

vandalism

and

high

costs

of

running

the

site,

Never

Never

Land

closed

on

Tuesday

16th

January

2001.

In

2019

The

council

installed

the

sleeping

giant,

a

huge

grass

figure

growing

out

of

the

ground

which

is

hoping

to

draw

people

into

the

magic

that

is

the

memory

of

so

many

from

their

childhood

and

will

be

future

memories

for

new

residents

and visitors.

1976 Pier Foreshore Offices

1874 Royal Hotel

c1905 Royal Hotel

1890s New Pier Hill Buildings

Pier Hill Bandstand

Early view in the Shrubbery

Advert Promoting the Shrubbery

Ritz Cinema Ritz cinema was built in 1934 - 1935 on the corner of Grove Road and Church Road, at the top of Pier Hill, and was owned by County Cinemas, designed by Robert Cromie and built by Messrs. E. D. Winn and Co., of Knightsbridge. The cinema was built in six months by a labour force of four hundred. The auditorium had a seating capacity of 2,250 and was 115 feet long, 85 feet wide, the proscenium opening was 50 feet which at the time was the largest in Essex. This was classed as a super cinema built with modern air conditioning, a complicated, but modern electric system, a large Conacher organ with phantom piano, latest projectors with wide range sound apparatus. The Ritz opened on Thursday 14th February 1935 by the Mayor, Councillor A. T. Edwards, in the presents of a large gathering of representatives of all branches of activity in the life of the Borough. County Cinemas were merged into Oscar Deutch’s Odeon circuit in 1939, which was taken over by J. Arthur Rank in June 1940, on the early tragic demise of Oscar Deutch. The Ritz closed September 1940 because of wartime conditions and did not reopen until May 1942, a full schedule did not start until 26 July 1945 with the Saturday morning Boys and Girls Club. In 1956 the Ritz underwent refurbishment and geared up to become the replacement picture house for the Gaumont which had closed that same year. Many of the staff from the Gaumont transferred to the Ritz. Later the café at the Ritz became a ballroom, then subsequently became disused. The organ was removed and went to the Odeon, Blackpool. In 1968, the building received a further facelift, costing £6,000. Sadly on 8th March 1972 the Ritz as a cinema closed. The Ritz had been steadily losing money since the twin Odeon cinemas opened. Next, at a cost of £100,000 the Ritz was converted into the Top Rank Bingo Club, later being leased to Invictor Bingo. In 1978 the building closed and became derelict. Finally, amid a great outcry from conservationists, theatre and film enthusiast, The Ritz was demolished in January 1981. The car park of the Royals Shopping Centre now stands on the site of the Ritz.
Hotel Metropole This landmark large hotel opened in 1904, shortly afterwards it was renamed the Palace Hotel. The hotel was advertised as the only 5-star hotel on the South East coast. The hotel offered 200 bedrooms, Private suites, Hot and cold running water, Central heating and gas fires, Sun lounge, Palm court, 2 Masonic rooms, Suites for official and wedding receptions, banquets etc., Squash courts, Cocktail bar, Winter garden, Ballroom, and billiards etc., this was indeed comfortable accommodation for the visitors to Southend. In 1929 the Palace Hotel was offered to the council to solve the town hall problem which had been going on for nearly half a century, but the council said no. The cost was only £125,000 which was less than 2s. rate and deductions of property vacated reduced the cost to £103,800. After many debates, the council finally decided on Victoria Avenue. The hotel served as a military hospital in both world wars. The comedy duo Laurel and Hardy stayed here in 1952 whilst appearing in a variety show at the Odeon in the High Street. In the latter years the building began to look tired and uncared-for until a full refurbishment took place and the new Park Inn Palace Hotel opened on 1st March 2010.

1961 The Ritz

1971 The Ritz

1977 The Ritz

c1905 Hotel Metropole

1939 Advert for the Ritz

Early view of the Shrubbery

The Lion Hotel The Lion Hotel was built b1840, In 1863 John Chignell is listed as the proprietor. The Pier Hotel opened on this site sometime around the ‘Lion’ closing and it being demolished. In about 1898 a portion of the Pier Hotel was rebuilt, it was advertised at the time as, ‘The Hotel which has been rebuilt is situated five minutes’ walk from the London Tilbury and Southend Railway, and about ten minutes from the Great Eastern. The Royal Stables are at the rear of the Hotel, and conveyances of every description can be obtained from the Proprietor at a few moment’s notice; in fact, nothing need be wanted to make to make life on your holidays happy. The management seem to anticipate your every wish, and strive their utmost to make you feel that you are at home away from home.’ The Proprietor was H. Choppin. Later further improvements took place under the ownership of Messrs. Truman, Hanbury, Buxton and Co., Ltd., and opened as the Grand Pier Hotel under the proprietorship of Mr. Steve Slinger, the main building contractors were Messers. Jas Flaxman and Sons Ltd., 114 Southchurch Road, Southend-on-Sea. Mr. and Mrs. Steve Slinger were both well known, for five years he had been the host of the Spread Eagle Hotel, Witham, previously residing in Chelmsford, where they were prominently identified with the entertainment of the public. At the Empire Theatre there variety shows were on par with the best London entertainments. Mr and Mrs Slinger were also associated for some time with the control of the Select Kinema.

Pier Hill with the Lion Hotel arrowed

1977 Grand Pier Hotel

The Pier Hotel

Pier Restaurant The Pier Restaurant (previously Chignells owned by William Joseph Chignell who was a linen Draper) was next door to the Lion Hotel/Pier Hotel. The proprietor in the 1890s was Mr. A. W. Bates. Noted fish suppers served every evening 7 to 11. Hot dinners from 12:30 to 3pm cut from the joint with 2 vegetables, from 1/-. Teas, cup of good tea. Coffee or Cocoa 2d. Plain Tea 6d, with shrimps and watercress 9d, or with Ham, egg, or cold meat 1s. Beanfeasts and small parties catered for, accommodation for cyclist. The Pier Restaurant closed and did not relocate when this building was demolished.
Southend Picture Palace The Southend Picture Palace owned by Mr. R. Arnold was built next door to the Grand Pier Hotel and opened in June 1909. by 1913 ownership had changed to Mr F. F. Ramuz who also owned the Gem Electric Theatre, Victoria Avenue, the name was also changed to the Grove Picture Theatre. In 1914, the name changed again to the Pier Hill Cinema, Mr Burgh was now the new owner having purchased the cinema from Mr Goldberg. The building had a short life as a bioscope, closing in 1919. For a time after it was used as a Billiards Hall, later being developed into part of a coach station, the building next door the other part, and used by Westcliff Motor Services. In 1981 the site of the former cinema was demolished for the Royals Shopping Centre.

Pier Hill with the Pier Restaurant arrowed

Pier Hill with the cinema arrowed

Pier Restaurant

The promoters of the scheme to develop a fashionable sea bathing centre on the Essex Coast had in mind the attractions that Brighton and Margate could offer, no attempt was made to re-fashion the village (Old or Lower Town), which had already won some small repute as a place for sea bathing. Instead of building or rebuilding in the old town of South End, what would be created was a new town or New South End (Upper Town). The area for development would be its western edge on the higher land above the cliffs, on what had been a barren plain, or woodland waste. The site was covered by a grove consisting mostly of ash trees, which extended along the Cliffs to the top of what later became Pier Hill. This would be a prominent position for buildings, a great advert for the resort to those who passed up and down the Thames, with extensive views over the Estuary, with tree covered Cliff paths leading down to the bathing place. By the year 1791 progress had been made in the building of the Terrace (Royal Terrace) and the Grand Hotel (Royal Hotel) by Thomas Holland. Mr John Thomas Hope, who owned a house on the Royal Terrace. He had known Southend since 1791 and could speak of the condition of Pier Hill from many years‘ knowledge. The road leading from The Royal Hotel to the lower part of Southend, he said, was formerly nothing more than a transverse line down a slope of the cliff. It was then very steep and not more than breadth enough for a single cart. There was a gate in the middle of the road and the land on each side had fallen away so much that there was only room for the single vehicle. The road went from the beach up to the top of the Cliff was, Mr. Hope believed, to be Major Scratton’s private property and nobody else had a right to it. A footpath, however, formerly went along it the whole way. Major Scratton, he said covenanted by his lease to grant to the lessees up above a right of way down the hill. They contended that the Major was bound to find not only a road, but a good road. The work was done by himself or the shopkeepers. The trouble arose from the nature of the soil. The clay was of a brittle nature and when exposed to the atmosphere it crumbled. They often wanted Major Scratton to use his influence with the parish to get them to take it over as a public road, but he would not do so. Before the road was made there was only one means of communication, a road down to the seashore that was Mr Vandervord’s house up to Prittlewell (Old Southend Road).
Prospect House Prospect House situated at the top of Pier Hill opposite the Royal Hotel was the home of William Warwick who had been the Doctor in residence since the 1840s. George Deeping a physician who had begun his medical career at Guys Hospital met and married one of Warwick’s daughters, he then joined her father’s practice. In 1877 their first child George Warwick Deeping was born at Prospect House, he later became a famous writer. The building would later become Goings, a popular fishing tackle shop. Prospect House was demolished for the Royals Shopping centre. The underpass constructed in Southend in the late 1960s early 1970s was named “The Deeping” after George Warwick Deeping.
Royal Library The Royal Library situated opposite the Royal Hotel was a part of the new Southend, it had good reading rooms and was popular especially in the evenings owing to the raffles and other similar amusements. In 1890 Charles and Zillah Bullock took over, Charles began to sell stationary and cigars as well as providing newspapers. In 1901 a Receiving Order was made against Zillah Bullock. In 1913 the Royal Library with joining land was sold at auction to Frederick Ramuz for £4,000. Later the building would be utilised for different business adventures until it was demolished for the Royals Shopping Centre.
Royal Stores The Royal Stores (Rod and Reel) was situated at the top of Pier Hill. Consisting of a Tavern, restaurant with seating for 200 people, smoking room and billiards hall. The Royal Stores had a long colourful life serving visitors and locals. The building was demolished to make way for the Royals Shopping Centre.
Pier Hill Fairground c1889 a fairground had been established on Pier Hill. The fairground lasted until the building of the Hotel Metropole in c1900. The ‘Roly-Poly’ ride secured all joys of complete seasickness, without leaving dry land.

1977 Royal Stores

Pier Hill with the fairground arrowed

1977 Prospect House

1897 Royal Library

Working at the Grand Pier Hotel 1949 Today’s generation of Southenders will be unfamiliar with the Grand Pier Hotel that once stood proud on top of Pier Hill. It was a tall building, set back from the Palace Hotel, next door to the Eastern National coach company, just across the road from the Ritz Cinema. For guests staying there they really did have everything at hand. Splendid sea views along with the convenience of being very close to the town centre and all its amenities. Today of course this view is very different, save for the Royal Hotel to the far left and the Palace Hotel peeking in from the right, the whole centre section is now taken up with the Royal's Shopping Centre. Brian Mendes from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, contacted Southend Timeline and mentioned he once worked at the Grand Pier Hotel; never to miss an opportunity Southend Timeline asked him a few questions, and considering the time that has passed Brian has done a splendid job in recalling his days in Southend, enjoy.... Southend Timeline Brian thank you for taking time to provide Southend Timeline an inside glimpse into the Grand Pier Hotel, when exactly did you work at the Grand Pier Hotel? Brian I worked there as a temporary hall porter from sometime in July 1949 until about mid December 1949. I was living with my father and his second wife in a bungalow on Chalkwell Avenue having sat the Higher School Certificate exam before leaving Dunstable Grammar School in June 1949. I had applied for University entrance but my acceptance was dependent upon my gaining a State or County Scholarship. I knew that if I did not get into University I would have to complete my National Service starting soon after my eighteenth birthday which was in September 1949. So I went looking for a job to earn some money regardless of whether or not I went to University. My exam marks were not good enough for a State Scholarship or a County Major. Every eighteen year old male knew the process following registration for National Service, which for me was knowing the fact that I would be called up very early in 1950. Without deferment there was no point in seeking a job with career prospects, knowing that no employer would take on a fellow who would be called up for National Service only a few months after being hired. So the job as a temporary hall porter at Mickey Wilson's Grand Pier Hotel in Southend was my occupation upon leaving school. Southend Timeline What was your role in the hotel. Can you describe your duties? Brian I was at the beck and call of the Hotel Manager, his wife, the permanent hall porter and the hotel guests...a general factotum, so to speak. I usually worked the day shift but came in late afternoons when asked to. My fixed duties were to clean the men’s wash- room on the first floor, polish the brass plates where ever they were, tidy up the small lounge bar which was separate from the large Public, Saloon and Lounge bars which were on the ground floor. I met guests at the separate hotel entrance, carried their luggage to and from their rooms. I suspect that the regular porter, made sure he attended to the regulars who were good tippers. I did take ordered drinks to guests in their rooms The most unpleasant job was assisting the old fellow who washed the dishes in a tiny scullery. This was not a regular assignment. Much of the shift was spent listening to the stories from Jimmy the regular hall porter and the waitresses who waited tables in the restaurant. Southend Timeline Can you describe the hotel, what it was like inside, did it have any function rooms, restaurants or bars. What standard of hotel was it? Brian The Grand Pier was generally regarded as one of the better hotels in Southend. I recall it having both AA and RAC approval. Downstairs was separate from the hotel and restaurant, and had a manager and staff for the three bars. It was a Truman House as you can see from the photo. There were very few free houses in those days. The hotel manager and his wife (who I worked for ) had London hotel experience as had the regular hall porter. The chef was quite a character who lusted after one of the waitresses, an attractive 30 something redhead..Marge was her name, I believe. I do not recall any large reception rooms but suspect that in the later years the large restaurant area may have been used for functions. The focal point of the first floor hotel area was the small lounge bar that had its own select patrons. I doubt that most downstairs patrons even knew of its existence. I saw the lunchtime regulars..mostly nouveau rich businessmen, often accompanied by their lady friends. One was a neighbour of ours who lived next door on Chalkwell Ave...he never realised who I was!! Several of the patrons of this bar were lushes to the n'th degree and had to escorted to a taxi well after closing time. The hotel manager knew his stuff and gave fawning attention to those who dropped big money in the bar. I am pretty certain that the Grand Pier was commandeered during the war and was one of the places where convoy control was organised. There was a naval theme mural on one of the walls of the upstairs bar and it was said to have been painted by one of the naval personnel from the wartime operations. The owner, Mickey Wilson had good connections with the county cricket crowd and the Essex team(or opponents) stayed at the hotel during Festival Week at Southchurch Park. The Regal Music Hall Theatre was still open and several of the performers stayed when they hit town. I remember only one... Max Wall the comedian, because I had to fetch something from his room when he was not there and was surprised to see a large book on his table, the World's Best Jokes. Southend Timeline Can you remember at the time what a young guy would do with his spare time in Southend? Brian I was not typical because from 1940 to 1949 I was away at boarding school and only home for the holidays. We lived in the town from 1935 to 1940 when I and my brother were evacuated. My parents moved to Richmond ,Surrey but returned to Westcliff in the summer of 1943, once the travel restrictions were lifted. Home then was 98 Chalkwell Ave and I used the No 17 bus to get to and from work. Once I left school in 1949, I joined the Southend Rugby club and the few friends that I had were club members. My mother ran a ballroom dancing school just off Hamlet Court Road and I learned enough to go to dances. Val West (who now lives in Toronto) and I used to try our luck at the Kursaal Ballroom where Howard Baker's Band was in residence. I lost touch with all my pre-war school friends and none of my Dunstable chums lived in Southend. In fact I was very glad to go into the army when called for National Service. I was saddened to learn many years after the fact that the Grand Pier Hotel had been torn down to make room for a shopping centre. I have been an infrequent visitor to the UK since emigrating to Canada, and it is only since acquiring a PC that I have tried to follow events in the town .I did purchase a copy of The Southend Story... A town and its People, compiled by Tom King and Kevan Furbank and learned more about the town than I ever knew when I lived there. The Grand Pier Hotel was demolished in the early 1980s to make way for the new Royals Shopping Centre development.

2007 Pier Hill Fountain Working

The Fountain

Another

attraction

that

was

part

of

the

redeveloped

Pier

Hill

was

a

fountain

that

was

located

opposite

to

the

entrance

of

the

Pier.

The

fountain

featured

dancing

spouts

of

water

that

would

alter

in

timing

and

height,

children

would

play

chicken

as

they

darted

through

the

resting

spouts

in

the

hope

that

they

would

not

get

a

sudden

soaking!

However,

drainage

issues

saw

water

seeping

into

the

buildings

below

resulting

the

the

taps

being

turned

off

until

a

solution

could

be

found,

the

problem

persisted

so

the

fountain

was

removed.

Pier Arcade and the Construction of Pier Hill Green Over the years the use of the Pier Arcade would change regularly, the Southend Corporation used the building for its Tourist Information Centre and Pier & Foreshore Offices, an aquarium was also opened in the arcade during the mid 1960s. However, the structure was becoming more difficult to maintain and the old problem of the stability and natural spring water courses running throughout the cliffs caused many problems, these eventually caused the closure of the buildings in the early 1970s. The site was demolished in 1977 and landscaped to form the Pier Hill green. Evidence of the sites previous use was evident as the top of the arched shop fronts could still be seen just poking above the hill. Also still present was the two windows that looked into the swimming baths, these were found on the steps that run up the side of Jenny’s Café, they had been bricked and concreted over when the rest of the buildings were demolished but the recesses had survived.

Lifelines

Another

aspect

of

the

redevelopment

of

Pier

Hill

was

the

installation

of

a

piece

of

public

art.

In

2006

Southend

Borough

Council

were

awarded

£390,000

by

the

Arts

Council

to

install

a

new

public

art

installation

on

the

newly

redeveloped

Pier

Hill.

The

new

art

work

that

was

commissioned

was

to

be

a

“living”

piece

designed

by

Vong

Phaophanit

and

Claire

Oboussier

and

named

“Lifelines.”

The

new

installation

was

a

54-metre-long sculpture with a width of 0.5meters.

The

artwork

featured

six

lines

of

coloured

panels

in

the

walkway

leading

to

a

large

clear

acrylic

box

structure

the

coloured

panels

in

the

walkway

then

continued

on

the

other

side

box.

The

large

clear

acrylic

box

structure

measured

9m

long

x

0.5m

wide

with

a

height

of

2m.

Inside

the

box

of

the

artwork,

were

6

individual

1.8M

high

polycarbonate

sheets.

Each

of

these

was

etched

with

an

“ECG”

style

"heartbeat"

along

its

length,

which

was

illuminated by the LED channels underneath the box.

The

name

“Lifelines”

came

from

the

fact

that

as

well

as

the

light

box

a

weather

monitoring

station

was

erected

at

the

top

of

Pier

Hill.

This

would

collect

data

on

wind

speed,

barometric

pressure,

humidity,

light,

sound

and

movement,

and

fed

to

a

data

logger

which

processed

the

information

via

an

on-site

computer,

from

there

signals

were

sent

to

pulsate

and

change

the

colours

of

each

life

line.

There

was

in

excess

of

100,000

LED's

and

1024

DMX

addresses

to

produce

this

light

feature.

Lifelines

worked

well

in

the

first

few

years

of

it's

life,

but

it

was

targeted

by

vandals

who

would

scratch

their

names

into

the

acrylic

panels,

condensation

also

became

a

problem

as

air

could

not

pass

freely

inside

the

box,

these

issues

soon

led

to

it

breaking

down.

With

the

continued

problems

in

maintaining

and

keeping

the

artwork

going,

the

council

voted

to

remove

and

place

Lifelines

into

storage at the cost of £20,000. Lifelines was finally removed in March 2011.

A tiled wall still in good condition

The small flat area that was the spot the statue of

Queen Victoria

The red phone boxes that once stood at the very top of

Pier Hill and the shelter

2006 Lifelines

Photographed on a snowy February day in 2012

Two views of Lifelines in March 2011, just days before it was removed

2012 A Hidden Piece of History... Despite the rebuilding of Pier Hill one small part of the old hill survives. A shelter under the upper level was provided half way up Pier Hill with a row of seats inside, remarkably the shelter and the seats survived behind the locked gate and a stone wall.

Lifelines today... its gone!

Pier Hill Demolition The site was to remain this way until the complete renovation of Pier Hill, this saw the last remaining elements of the Pier Arcade finally being demolished. During the excavation parts of the pier arcade buildings were found including a tiled wall, and various other small parts of demolition rubble. These next few photos take a look at the demolition of the 1977 Pier Hill, remnants discovered of the 1898 Pier Hill.
Two views of Pier Hill the curved wall at the top is the remains of the grand staircase whilst the arches are remains of the shops

What were windows were also discovered during the

works

Pier Arcade

2011 Pier Hill Fountain after its removal

The New Pier Hill

The

redevelopment

of

Pier

Hill

saw

winding

pathways,

more

staircases

added

along

the

length

of

the

hill,

and

sloped

landscaping.

Something

the

old

Pier

Hill

had

lacked

was

seating,

the

redevelopment

saw

dozens

of

extra

seats

installed

along

with

flowerbeds

and

trees. The historic Grand Staircase that was built in 1898 was also rebuilt in the same position.

The

cost

of

rebuilding

Pier

Hill

cost

£5.8m,

the

money

came

from

two

grants

one

from

the

Office

of

the

Deputy

Prime

Minister

(£3.7m),

with

the

second

coming

from

the

European

Union

Objective

2

scheme.

Pier

Hill

was

formally

opened

on

19th

January

2005

by

Keith

Hill

MP,

Minister

for

the

Thames

Gateway.

The

design

of

Pier

Hill

was

to

develop

an

open

gateway

between

the

Seafront

&

the Pier with the High Street.

2020 Pier Hill The popular viewing tower forms a striking feature on the seafront. Two lifts are provided to access the upper lever of

Pier Hill leading to the High Street

Corporation Inquiry Bureau (Tourist Information) The Bureau was opened on the 14th June 1928, and was located in a commanding position at the top of Pier Hill, facing the High Street. The Bureau was open on weekdays throughout the year, on Sundays from Whitsun to the early part of October. Guides, Brochures, and similar publicity literature, were issued from here, The staff offered information to many visitors on all matters relating to Borough.

Corporation Inquiry Bureau

Work starting on removing the hill

Small remnants of more walls were also found

The ornate railings that once stood

along Pier Hill

The two small windows are from the Swimming Baths

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