John Cleese backs Birnbeck Pier campaign

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Media captionActor Timothy West explains why he wants to see the pier saved

Comedian John Cleese and EastEnders actor Timothy West have backed a campaign to save a derelict Victorian pier in Weston-super-Mare.

Let's Save Birnbeck Pier was formed after the structure, which closed in 1994, suffered recent storm damage.

The group plans to join forces with the longer-established Friends of the Old Pier Society to form a charitable trust enabling it to apply for grants.

Cleese sent a message backing efforts to save the Grade II listed pier.

The Monty Python star, who was born in Weston-super-Mare, said: "Dad and I used to go to the pier because they had a TV in the bar and we went and watched England Test matches there.

Image caption Timothy West lived in Bristol as a child and visited the pier on family holidays

"We also used to catch the ferry to Barry Fun Fair from the side-pier. It's a very striking and unusual pier, and I hope we can manage to rescue it."

Timothy West, who is patron of the National Piers Society, lived in Bristol as a child and visited the pier on family holidays.

He said: "I particularly liked watching and sailing on the Campbell steamers that used to call there and went across to South Wales and down the coast to Lynmouth and Ilfracombe and back to Bristol, Clevedon and so on.

"The pier had a wonderful elegance and still has.

Image caption The pier opened in 1867 but was closed in 1994

"In its dilapidated condition you can still see what a graceful piece of engineering it is and... it is very sad to see it in its present state."

Ron Lock from Let's Save Birnbeck Pier said: "Following recent storms it became apparent we could lose our old lady forever and I'm not prepared to stand by and watch that happen."

After the group joins forces with the Friends of the Old Pier Society the new trust would try to strike a deal with property developers CNM Estates, which now owns the pier and surrounding area.

The company said the cost of repairs would be revealed in the next two to three weeks, following a survey.

The story of the new campaign to save Birnbeck Pier will be told on Inside Out West on BBC One on Monday 9 February at 19:30 GMT and will be available for 30 days afterwards on the iPlayer.

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