2012 Updates & Articles

The Friends of Queen’s Pier are very pleased to learn that the Stabilisation work to the Queen’s Pier has gone so smoothly. It was never the preferred solution which of course was and still is a fully restored and re-opened Pier but it is a good start down that road.

To bring the contract in under budget and ahead of time will have been no easy task and will no doubt have surprised the many doubters and knockers who ‘knew’ that would not be the case and more money would be needed for the inevitable cost over runs that needlessly plague so many Capital projects.

Everyone worked well together from Minister Phil Gawne and his staff in the Harbours Directorate to the Design Consultants at BWB, the project managers Dalrymples and the ‘lads’ themselves from Mike Hawkin’s team at MPM Northwest. No doubt they enjoyed being here as much as we enjoyed their welcome presence amongst us. It was also a nice gesture for Mike Hawkins and everybody to donate monies to the Ramsey Lifeboat too in recognition of the use of the Slipway for access to the beach.

I believe that many parts were corrosion free when removed and wonder if the Pier’s condition was really as bad as suggested when heavy materials could be carried along it by trailer?

So the Queen’s Pier is now stabilised and safe for a good few years to come but what of the future? As Magnus Magnusson would have put it, “We’ve started so surely we can finish!” The Harbours Directorate have assembled a great team and they have done an excellent job. Surely they are not going to demobilise them now when they have done so well? If it can be brought in under budget once, surely we can do it again, and again, until the Queen’s Pier is fully open once more? This surely makes more sense than to leave things to deteriorate once more? The Queen’s Pier is still a Registered Building in the care of a Government Department so nothing has changed. She still needs looking after and nursing back to her full health and beauty in accordance with our Government’s commitment to preserve our Built Heritage.

To why not build on what has been so brilliantly achieved this year? Perhaps get more work done so that a couple of bays could be opened to use? With everyone now pulling together and Government having grasped the nettle after years of fence sitting now is surely the time to get on and make further progress!

We eventually convinced our previous Chief Ministers that this was the right thing to do. We would like to think that our new Chief Minister needs no such convincing.

Here is an article from Isle of Man Newspapers that you may have missed.

IT’s a verdict that may come as a surprise to the critics who dismissed Ramsey Pier as a rusting wreck deemed too derelict to be worth saving.

‘In my opinion, with 40 years’ experience working on piers, this is one of the best there is – it’s one of the best examples of Victorian pier engineering there is, without a doubt,’ said Mike Hawkins, managing director of Maryport-based marine engineers MPM Ltd.

MPM contractors began work on the stabilisation scheme in May, shortly after Tynwald narrowly voted through the funding approval with the closest of margins.

The row over whether the £1.758 million could have been better spent on other government priorities in the wake of the VAT bombshell has continued ever since.

There has also been criticism that the project didn’t go to a Manx firm.

But Mr Hawkins insists that more than half – four out of the seven – of those working on the contract are Manx workers.

He said the project was on schedule. ‘Progress has been good. There’s been a few hiccups but the weather has been reasonable and we are on schedule and should be finished by the beginning of November.’

Initial work involved the careful removal of the cast iron balustrades, lampposts, seating and other metal work of historic value which have been catalogued and placed into secure storage in Jurby so they can be returned to the pier if funding for a full refurbishment ever becomes available in the future.

The seaward kiosk remains for the time being, but will be taken down in consultation with Manx National Heritage.

However, the main entrance is to be refurbished to provide security while the pier remains closed. Local contractors will be involved in this work.

Below deck, all the corroded steel cross-braces are being replaced – and all the underwater work has been completed.

Mr Hawkins explained that while the pier’s original cast iron piles were in very good condition, many of the diagonal steel struts had corroded. Some 513 have had to be replaced – about three quarters of the total. All of the replacement steelwork is pre-painted before it is fitted.

Government divers helped with the underwater work. ‘They’ve been very good – the best set of divers we’ve worked with,’ said the MPM boss.

Surprisingly, even the timberwork on the deck has fared better than would be expected, with some 50 per cent of the hardwood decking still in reasonable condition – again testimony to the quality of materials used in the pier’s construction.

Even many of the galvanised nails were found to be nearly as good as new.

‘Compared with some of the piers we’ve worked on, the final build was very good which is why it is still in reasonably good condition. The pier was made out of very good materials, there was no compromise in the way it was built.’

Mr Hawkins, whose company has been involved in a host of heritage restoration schemes including the Houses of Parliament and a series of Victorian piers from Eastbourne to Blackpool and Llandudno, said he was ‘very proud’ to have been involved in the Queen’s Pier project.

‘I would love to see it open. It’s an integral part of Manx heritage,’ he said, adding that it went without saying that MPM would be delighted to secure the contract for the full restoration of the landmark, if government funding was ever found in the future.

Full restoration of Queen’s Pier has been priced at £9.15 million or £11.675 million if phased over a number of years.

Mr Hawkins said that once the stabilisation scheme was complete, it would be ‘much more straightforward’ work to complete the pier’s restoration.

But he added: ‘It would still be quite a specialist operation but the awkward underwater work will have been done. We’ve done that difficult work labour-wise, but there would still be a tremendous lot of construction work to do, including the lattice girders and the decking itself.’

FACTFILE

  • 1886: Queen’s Pier built by Head Wrightson of Stockton-on-Tees at a cost of £45,000. At 2,150 feet in length, it is the sixth longest pier in the British Isles and is as long as Snaefell is high.
  • 1889: A landing stage is added at the seaward end. The last steamer called at the pier head in 1970.
  • 1981: The pier tram stops running
  • 1991: The pier closes to the public.
  • 1995: The pier is listed as a registered building
  • 2008: A survey of 3,200 households finds that 82 per cent are in favour of the pier being restored.
  • January 2009: Tynwald approves a CoMin report recommending the pier is refurbished
  • May 2010: Tynwald votes to approve a ‘de minimus’ scheme to stabilise the pier but keep it closed, pending future restoration.
  • April 2011. Tynwald votes to approve £1.758m for a stabilisation scheme, by 11-10 in the House of Keys and 7-1 in the Legislative Council.

© Isle of Man Newspapers. Written by Adrian Darbyshire
and published on 13th September, 2011

There are also a couple of photos of the pier following the completion of works

And a gallery of photos from the Contractors.
(Credit to Neil Price of BW Partnership)


 

 

© 2008 - 2011 Friends of Queens Pier, Ramsey, Isle of Man. Reg. No. 634. E&OE. Design By David Kinrade - www.davidkinrade.com