South Parade Pier Fails To Sell

A historic seaside pier which was once a popular tourist attraction and featured in The Who's rock opera Tommy has failed to sell at auction.

South Parade Pier in Southsea, Hampshire, was given a guide price of £190,000 to £210,000 at the sale today by Clive Emson auctioneers.

But despite the failure to sell, Rob Marchant from Clive Emson said a post-auction deal could still be struck.

He said: ''The pier offers huge scope, but needs investment, and might still be snapped up for the price of a three-bedroom semi.

''We are talking to interested parties and hope to find a new owner soon.

''It has two venues that in more recent times have held concerts and events, and there is no reason why they can't be successful again.

''Other privately-owned piers have shown they can be commercially viable and this is a great-looking pier with magnificent views.

''It also comes with a long and interesting history and it remains a Victorian pier that still has a long life ahead of it despite its age.

''I'm sure there is an investor out there who could revive the fortunes of this grand old structure.''

A spokesman for the National Piers Society said: ''South Parade pier dates from 1879 and has a distinguished history.

''It is a listed structure and needs someone who can restore it to its former glory while at the same time appealing to 21st century consumers.

''Given its existing facilities, the possibilities are enormous.''

The sale follows recent difficulties experienced by its owners Fred Nash and Dawn Randall, with the pier going into administration twice in the past 18 months as well as being partly closed because of safety fears.

It is estimated that the buyers of the pier would be faced with a bill of £2 million to restore it to its former glory.

The pier was opened in 1878 by Prince Edward with its original purpose as a terminal for ferries to the Isle of Wight.

The pier was destroyed by a major fire in 1904 and the rebuild, costing £85,000 and taking four years, was carried out by the Portsmouth Corporation.

The new pier, which featured a 1,200-seat theatre, became popular with tourists before it was requisitioned during the Second World War to be used as a key part in the D-Day preparations and embarkations.

After the war, the pier continued as a popular attraction with performances including shows by Frankie Howerd and Peter Sellers, who was born in Portsmouth.

In 1974, the pier was used as a backdrop for the Ken Russell film of The Who's Tommy rock opera, during which another substantial fire broke out, leading to a further rebuild.

In recent years, the pier has consisted of an amusement arcade, shops and two venues which have hosted concerts and nightclubs, including a show by Damon Albarn's project The Good, The Bad and The Queen in 2007.

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