Restoration on track following Hythe Pier donation

Hythe Pier
Image caption,
Hythe Pier is the base for a passenger ferry service to Southampton

Plans to restore and redevelop a Victorian pier on Southampton Water have taken a step forward, with the structure donated to a community group.

The 640m (2,000ft) Hythe Pier is the base for a passenger ferry service to Southampton.

Operator Blue Funnel has gifted the pier to Hythe Pier Heritage Association which plans to raise £3m to restore it.

Association chairman Peter King said the pier had a "new future".

Television historian Dan Snow is among those who have supported the campaign to save the pier, describing it as a "national treasure".

The pier opened in 1871 and two locomotives, built in 1917, still run on a narrow gauge railway along its length.

Image caption,
The pier was handed over to the community group from ferry operators Blue Funnel

Blue Funnel bought the pier and ferry in 2016 after more than 9,000 people signed a petition to save them when previous owners warned the ferry's future was in doubt due to falling passenger numbers and high costs.

The community group is to take over the running of the pier which has proved costly for ferry operators.

Mr King said the group had a "viable plan to create a sustainable future" for the pier.

"Our vision is to create a vibrant community facility to allow the ferry service to prosper and for the community to reconnect with something which has stood at its heart for more than a century."

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