Clacton Pier (The history)

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Postby Chief Engineer » 28 Jul 2010, 23:57

Hi FB,

I am sure the rig in the picture you mentioned was used for piling, in fact I think if you look in most of the pictures of the Pier the piling rig can usually be spotted tucked away somewhere on the Pier.

By the time the 'Pet Shop Boys' filmed on the Pier that particular piling rig had been replaced by a more multi purpose machine. It had the nickname 'The Monster' but basically it was a modified Landover with a Tilco crane fitted with a winch and pile grab.

During my time on the Pier it never did any piling, just general lifting duties before the elements of the North Sea and a cold winter froze the engine block in half and sealed her fate.

The picture below is of the berthing arm nearing completion, I am sure the piling rig was brought in by the contractors 'Christiani & Nielsen Ltd' as it features a steam driven winch, The Pier's piling rig appears to be slightly smaller.

CE
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Postby Chief Engineer » 29 Jul 2010, 21:34

A bit of local advertising taking to the roads in this picture. Not quite sure of the date but I am sure someone will recognise who I think was a well known music hall comedian in the poster (top left hand ) to give a hint of the date the picture was taken.

Also I am sure someone can put a name to the face of happy chap giving us a wave, it would be great to give some of these faces of both entertainers and Pier workers a name for relatives to find.

CE



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Postby Chief Engineer » 04 Aug 2010, 21:54

One more picture featuring two piling rigs for the equipment enthusiasts. Kindly sent by Dolphin Boy it appears to carry on the series of photographs recently posted featuring the demolition of the old Blue Lagoon dance hall.

I think the reason for the two piling rigs is for the completion of the concrete deck of which half has already been laid, the full concrete deck now houses the under cover rides area. The larger piling rig is probably the one belonging to Christiani & Nielsen as they were the main contractors when it came to any concrete work.


CE
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Postby Chief Engineer » 04 Aug 2010, 22:06

With the old Blue Lagoon demolished we ought to take a look inside the new one. The poster on the hand rail in the first pictures is advertising the 'Grand Opening' I am sure that was a night the Mr. Kingsman and his family must have been very proud of their achievements, I will be posting up an editorial of that evening shortly.

CE
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Postby Chief Engineer » 05 Aug 2010, 21:45

As promised here is the story covering the opening night of the Blue Lagoon, first published in "The New Era Illustrated" July 1934.

The pictures above certainly give a glimpse at the decor and detail and give an feeling of how the Blue Lagoon felt on that first night, but the words below add the colour to the photographs and the feeling of Clacton's pride in the Kingsman family.

One little fact, that we would think quite strange for a dance hall today, was the lack of a bar, no alcohol at all.

CE
BOOM! BOOM!! BOOM!!! BOOM I I !

A general rush from hotels and boarding establishments along the front, and even from the town, to see the launching of the lifeboat—but no lifeboat appeared. The booming was assuredly the sound of rockets, but they were being fired to celebrate a far more auspicious happening—the Opening of the New Blue Lagoon—the latest and greatest of luxury Ballrooms, and the largest in the world over the sea.

Personally, we did not rush to see the lifeboat launched because we knew that the firing of the rockets marked the commencement of the ceremony of inauguration. Fourteen rockets in all were fired because this season is the fourteenth spent by happy holiday- makers on the most famous Pier around the coast.

The Opening of the New Blue Lagoon marked a New Era in the history of Clacton-on-Sea and, by invitation, we were present at the opening ceremony. Sir John Pybus, is his characteristically charming manner, referred to the fact that in November last the beautiful building was only in its inception stage, and surely Aladdin’s magician must have had a hand in its erection because it is difficult to realise how so ambitious a work could have been carried out in a few short months. On the Opening Night, Whitsun Monday, everything was finished to a detail.

Some driving force or rather dynamic energy was clearly behind the work, and who can guess the name of the possessor? Does his name begin with “K“?

Well no prize will be given for the answer. When Sir John Pybus jokingly referred to the fact that he could see many of his friends in the room, all looking more beautiful than ever, he was certainly telling the truth, because, under the really wonderful and novel lighting scheme, ladies looked more captivating than ever and gentlemen felt more sure of themselves.

But, before describing the lighting scheme, we should give some impression of the building, which is arranged mainly in the form of a sweeping architrave, which covers the whole of the dance floor area. On both sides are flat roofs, trellised and adorned with artificial blooms of roses and sweet peas amidst them being a myriad of tiny coloured lights. Beneath these are artistically arranged refreshment tables and chairs. In one corner is a novel alcove which accommodated Teddy Dobbs and his Band, who were in ,attendance to open the Season. The Bandstand is quite a clever inception; the lighting is concealed; and the painting, on the wall, of a stave of music, a clever thought.

The general decorative scheme is pea green and white—nevertheless it will always be. the “Blue Lagoon”
From the continuous windows, at one side, passers-by on the pier can be seen, whilst he other side looks out on to the open sea and the beach.

By the Blue Lagoon She’s Waiting “ should be a song that will be kept in memory for ‘all time because the Blue Lagoon is the spot dear to the heart of every girl visiting Clacton . In the Blue Lagoon many romances have had their inception, and surely Mrs. Kingsman ranks among the greatest of match-makers because she has so many friends who visit Clacton, year after year, who never fail to pay their regards to this very popular lady and to thank her for the happy hours at the Blue Lagoon when first they met and fell in love.

At the far end of the Lagoon is a mirrored wall which gives an indescribable effect of enormous length because it apparently doubles the area.

But we have left the good wine until last, and that is the Lighting Scheme. Across the broad sweep of the ceiling, at intervals, are luminous gas tubes which are generally termed neon tubes, and, although this term is not technically correct, it will suffice at the moment for our purpose. One of each set of tubes is of yellow glass, the other tubes being white, but the effect of the luminous gas passing through the yellow tube (this is a blue gas) causes it to radiate a bright green colour which, merging with the red and blue of the other tubes, mingling with the white of the ceiling, gives
perfect rainbow effect. Imagine, then or rather better visit Clacton and see the wonderful charm of a succession of rainbows.

We understand that nearly five miles of cable have been used in the lighting of the interior and exterior and there are actually 800 feet of luminous gas tubing used in the rainbow lighting.

After Sir John Pybus had spoken, the rainbow lighting was switched on, whereupon Mr. Kingsman junior, with the aid of a microphone, gave an address of welcome to the visitors, after which the National Anthem was sung and Mr. Fred Yeoman, as a vocal number sang “Ring up the Curtain” whereupon Teddy Dobbs and his boys settled down to the business in earnest, and the floor in a matter of seconds, invaded by a throng of delighted young people, all proud to be dancing in the New Blue Lagoon on the first night of its opening.

The high esteem in which Mr. and Mrs. Kingsman are held was evidenced by the enormous applause with which their names were greeted, and Clacton owes much to Mr. Kingsman who has, formed a meaningless, worthless landing stage into the most perfect amusement Pier we have ever had the pleasure of visiting.

It was on Whit Monday evening of 1933, that we stood on the Clacton front and watched a great pyrotechnic display celebrating the opening of the beautiful Swimming Pool, which is already so well-known.

Certainly, Mr. Kingsman is nothing if he is not a Showman. Every year, under his boundless energy, new attractions have been created. in addition to the New Blue Lagoon and the Swimming Pool, are the Ocean Theatre, in which first- rate entertainments are given by the best artistes, the management of which is under the directorship of Mrs. Kings- man and the Jolly Roger “ Theatre, which was completed and opened at the beginning of the 1 933 Season. Then we have the “Rambla “ Concert Party, a talented group of entertainers—a great show in the open air, with nothing to pay unless one requires a comfortable chair in which to enjoy the performance, whereupon the “large” amount of 2d. is entailed and Clown Bertram’s Theatre, wherein not only children but there parents are entertained.

Other attractions are Electric Boats on the Miniature Lake , the “Dodge ‘Em Motor Cars,” where one pays 6d. to have collisions which would assuredly be looked askance at on the road: side shows galore and every conceivable amusement including a new style of Roundabout with cunningly designed animals, on the backs of which people ride—a roundabout which is calculated to rouse one’s liver into a state of greatest activity because it travels at a speed we have never seen before. Add to this the pleasure of strolling along the Pier, which has a centre screen for the greater part of the journey so that should the breeze be over strong, there is always a sheltered side.
It seems a remarkable statement, but it is one of fact, that many thousands of visitors to Clacton , particularly those who travel by boat, never -leave the Pier until it is time to go home — they find all they want for a day’s full enjoyment without actually passing from the Pier to the town.
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Postby Chief Engineer » 08 Aug 2010, 00:15

'Teddy Dobbs and his boys'

The first picture is of course the band on the stage of the 'Blue Lagoon', the second one is slightly earlier in date and has the band on the Pier for what looks like a publicity photograph.

I am not to sure of when Teddy came to Clacton, there is reference to 'Teddy Dobbs Brooklyn Band'
on a 1919 Ocean Theatre hand bill and that he retired in 1960 but I am not sure if that was retirement from the Pier.

Phil Rich and his Orchester were billed in 1960 as supplying the music to dance by in the Blue Lagoon.

Any names of band members or further details would be gratefully received.

CE

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Postby FATBOY » 08 Aug 2010, 18:10

what is in the upstairs part above the boardwalk??? i heard years ago that there was a few flats above there???? not sure if that is true?
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Postby Chief Engineer » 11 Aug 2010, 21:34

Hi Fatboy,

Both of the first floors in the buildings on either side of the front of the Pier used to be the accommodation for the Kingsman's.

In the picture above of the inside of the Blue Lagoon with the Union Jacks and pennants, you can see the windows that look down onto the dance floor from the corridor that links all the rooms together upstairs . Apart from one room which was used as the office there are bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom and sitting room all above the Boardwalk Bar. The decoration and fittings of the bathroom are almost as the Kingsman's would have remembered it, right down to the green glazed tiles.

The upstairs rooms on the other side of the Pier offered the same accommodation and even included a full sized billiards table. The bridge across the entrance to the Pier of course linked the two sets of flats.

CE
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Postby Chief Engineer » 11 Aug 2010, 21:48

Time to take to the air again. The date is 21/8/1938 and we get to see an aerial view of the 'Steel Stella' in full swing during her second summer season .

The 'Dodgem track' (yes the same one as today but newer cars) and the 'Speedway' can be seen in the new undercover ride area. I am still trying to confirm the ride that accompanies the Steel Stella and Rifle Range on the outside ride area.

CE
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Postby Gary » 12 Aug 2010, 09:02

I'm totally blown away by all these images! :D

Really Mr Engineer, you should write a book or open a museum.

Top quality and thanks for your continued input on these forums.

Gary
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Postby Chief Engineer » 12 Aug 2010, 23:08

Hi Gary,

Glad your enjoying the images and hopefully the accompanying information on the Piers history that I am trying to piece together.

Like yourself when Peter Kingsman kindly shared these images of the Pier with me I was blown away as well, not only for the previously unseen shots of the Pier from the air and ground but also pictures of what I would call 'behind the scenes' which not only show the huge effort the Kingsman's and their staff put into providing entertainment of the day but it is also a fantastic view of social history of the day.

It does feel like I am writing a book at the moment but it is an enjoyable pleasure to bring all these pictures and the history of the Pier to all, plus of course it is cheaper than having to buy the book.

The new owners of the Pier are keen to dedicate an area on the Pier to enable a museum about the Pier's history from conception to modern day, but like most things in life these days , it has to make a profit and I doubt most of today's Piers visitors would have much interest in its past.

You may well have seen the Pier has a new web site up and running, I am hoping in the not to distant future to be uploading a more structured time line of the Pier's history along with categories on rides, theatres, past events etc as a sort of reference, but I will still be uploading and keeping this thread running, as long as our hosts Joyland Books are happy, plus I enjoy the feedback and hopefully other contributors with pictures, memories or who can put a name to a face will swell the historical information here.

CE
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Postby Chief Engineer » 13 Aug 2010, 00:02

I doubt we will ever see something like this again on the Pier, the picture was taken 11/9/37 and the comment on the rear of the photograph states that all the produce had been sold by the following morning.

I did a little research on the company name on the posters 'Associated Fruit Growers of Essex Ltd' formed in 1936 by Leslie H Clark and lasted till being taken over in Jan 1972 by Nursery Trades (Lea Valley) Ltd.

I wonder if the gentleman to the right is a proud Mr. Clark showing of his first years crop?

CE
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Postby Nick » 13 Aug 2010, 08:28

Chief Engineer wrote:I am hoping in the not to distant future to be uploading a more structured time line of the Pier's history along with categories on rides, theatres, past events etc as a sort of reference, but I will still be uploading and keeping this thread running, as long as our hosts Joyland Books are happy, plus I enjoy the feedback and hopefully other contributors with pictures, memories or who can put a name to a face will swell the historical information here.

CE


I can confirm that Joyland Books is very happy for you to continue this thread! For me, it is the most interesting thread we have on the forum and I am another person who looks forward to seeing the next post appear. The information and photographs are truly fabulous, so long may it continue!

Good luck with the history section on the Clacton Pier website.
Nick
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Postby Chief Engineer » 14 Aug 2010, 23:40

It must have been a terrible blow for the Kingsman's with all their investment and expectations after the successful opening and first couple of summer seasons of the Blue Lagoon and swimming pool, when the first rumblings of WWII at the end of 1939 signalled the start of a six year bleak time for Clacton and the rest of the country.

Clacton town unfortunately suffered its losses in both life and property , the coast line was quite heavily fortified against invasion and Clacton's second jetty was demolished to prevent it being used as a landing stage if the worst should have happened. I am not sure if the Pier got away with not being cut in two as a prevention, unfortunately a floating German mine had a good go at severing the Pier's head from its neck.

A Pathe News Reel captured the aftermath and damage caused but kept the identity of the location and Pier hidden:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0sE7uo9XLM

This set of photographs give a good view of how much damage the mine caused, the damaged concrete piles can still be seen today standing beside their replacements.

CE



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First pictures of Clacton Pier??

Postby DolphinBoy » 16 Aug 2010, 16:34

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I came across this photo in an old book, apparently they could be the first ever photos of Clacton Pier?
The info on the photos as quoted from the book..............

FIRST PHOTOS OF THE PIER. Early photographs of the pier as it was a hundred years ago.
The sea wall, which can be seen in the first picture, was built in 1881. The 'Pier Dining Rooms' and the other building were both leased by Mr Wallis, proprietor of the Royal Hotel in 1885 and turned into 'Hot & Cold Sea Water Baths'. The second photograph was taken after the word 'Dining' had been removed and a pair of davits added halfway along the pier. The building on the left of the pier entrance carries a notice 'Powells Complete Furnishing Warehouse'. A scale of charges were laid down for sea-borne cargo. A barrel of gunpowder was charged at 6d. Musical Instruments 1d per cubic foot, a corpse at £1. Since the passenger fare from London was 4/6d you were, to the pier authority worth more dead than alive. These photos are believed to be the earliest known photos of the pier taken between 1881 and 1885

The photos had a heavy screen on them so I didnt adjust them too much to preserve the detail
DB
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