Bygones: Writer among his piers
RECENTLY local publicity about the sale of Cleethorpes Pier has seen mention of myself in connection with the National Piers Society, writes Tim Mickleburgh.
How, though, did this society come about, and how did I get involved?
It's appropriate for me to answer such questions at this stage, as I've recently been asked to pen a 1,000-word chapter for a new book the society is compiling in conjunction with English Heritage.
You see, I'm the sole remaining committee member from those early days!
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For me the tale commences in early 1979. I'd been interested in piers back in 1971, thanks to being inspired by Scartho resident Lester Kitching.
Over the years I had accumulated much research material, at a time when the only published general work on the subject dealt solely with pier railways. So it was a case of writing to libraries, and trying to gather as much knowledge as one could in those pre-internet and Wikipedia days.
By 1977, Simon Adamson had written his pioneering Seaside Piers, so I thought I would pen something.
My Guide To British Piers ran to 40 pages (including cover), making it a similar length to my recent A Short History Of Littlecoates School. It came out in December 1978, the month of my 17th birthday.
Copies were sold in aid of the Brighton West Pier Society, which I'd joined the previous year.
I naturally sent a complimentary copy to its secretary John Lloyd, and as well as being thanked for my endeavours, was asked in January 1979 if I'd like to be involved in the setting up of a National Piers Society.
The impetus for this came from a conference in Brighton about piers run under the auspices of the Faculty Of Architects And Surveyors (FAS). At this there were representatives from pier owners, as well as pier campaigners such as Tony Wring and Peter Mason (Clevedon) & John Hodgkins (Southend).
So it was that we all met one Saturday morning in London at the FAS offices, joined by other pier notables including Gavin Henderson and the aforementioned Simon Adamson. A steering committee was set up, which I became a member of, and we were on our way!
Sadly, I missed the grand launch at the Connaught Rooms that July, hosted by Sir John Betjeman, then Poet Laureate and first honorary president of the NPS. My excuse? Not being able to afford the cost of the £10 meal! And yes, it is a decision I've long regretted.
Thankfully though, I've many happy memories of my activities for the society over the years since 1979.