Somerset

Birnbeck Pier loss 'significant' warns actor Timothy West

Birnbeck Pier and Timothy West
Image caption Actor Timothy West praised Birnbeck Pier as a "beautiful piece of engineering"

Actor Timothy West has visited a group fighting to save the crumbling Birnbeck Pier, saying it would be "a significant loss" if it collapsed.

The pier at Weston-super-Mare is among the 10 most endangered buildings on a list compiled by The Victorian Society.

Survey work is under way to determine how much it would cost to repair the main bridge and carry out structural reports for the other buildings.

Mr West said it was a "beautiful piece of engineering" and needed to be saved.

Image caption Birnbeck Pier is Britain's only pier built around an island
Image caption It shut to the public in 1994 and has deteriorated ever since

During a visit on Saturday, he said: "We lived in Bristol during world war two. We used to come to Weston for our holidays and I've kept links with this area ever since.

"I found myself living in places where we had wonderful piers, and this one particularly I was very fond of.

"Partly because of the Campbell [paddle] steamers which called here and went over to Cardiff and down to Ilfracombe, Lundy Island and so on.

"Long term I would like to see the whole pier and the island with the landing stage refurbished. It's a very long term project but it could happen."

Image caption The pier's regeneration trust is in the process of working out the cost to bring it back to life
Image caption Heritage England has recorded its condition as "very bad"

The Grade II*-listed pier, which is the only one in Britain leading to an island, shut in 1994 and has since fallen into a state of disrepair.

Successive owners' restoration plans have come to nothing and storms earlier this year left one walkway on the verge of collapse.

Richard Griffin, project director for The Birnbeck Regeneration Trust, said they had the support of the owner who had agreed, in principle, to a lease for a minimum of 25 years "once we get funding and planning permission in place".

"If we let it fall into the sea and rot away that would be a travesty to history," he added.

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