Scale of Southport Pier damage laid bare as historical failings lead to structure 'rotting away'

Southport's historic pier has been closed since December 2022
Southport's historic pier has been closed since December 2022 -Credit:Sefton Council

The iconic Southport Pier, a jewel in the UK's coastal crown and the second longest pier in the country, is now a shadow of its former self, rotting away due to years of neglect.

A shocking new report has exposed the historical blunders that have led to its decay. Closed since 2022 after engineers raised alarms following severe weather conditions, the beloved landmark has been off-limits, much to the dismay of both locals and tourists.

The closure has hit local businesses hard, with many relying on the foot traffic it once brought. Sefton Council, in a bid to salvage the situation, forked out £400,000 for a detailed investigation into the piers structural health, hiring AE Yates for the job, which was then passed on to Thomason Partnership Limited.


The findings were damning, highlighting past maintenance efforts as inadequate and showing disturbing images of the eroded foundations. According to Thomason Partnership Limited, "The current condition of the pier has been impacted by various issues since the significant multimillion pound refurbishment works carried out in 1998-2002 which left Sefton Council with inherent latent defects."

A full refurbishment of the pier was conducted 20 years ago, but this refurb is cited as a leading cause of the existing problems, with numerous defects to the way work was carried out and materials used, the Local Democracy Service reports.

In Section 5, the report adds: "The extent of the deck deterioration and numerous areas of the structure have reached a point where the pier is now deemed unsafe for the public to be allowed access."

Evidence of the condition of Southport Pier
Evidence of the condition of Southport Pier -Credit:Sefton Council

For anyone hoping for a detailed timeframe for Southport Pier's reopening, the 56 page report by Thomason Partnership Limited will only add further upset and frustration.

According to local residents, the closure of the pier has significantly effected Southport's leisure and tourism offer. However, due to the financial costs of the refurbishment, any possible re-opening has been placed in limbo.

Colin Jamieson is the owner of Southport Pier Pavilion and his business has suffered ever since it closed in 2022. Colin is very clear on the impact the closure has had on him and his peers. Colin said: "The town is suffering without the pier being open and all the other businesses say so."

"My businesses on the pier have been devastated by the closure with no help from the council to keep us afloat All we can hope for is they get the money as soon as possible and get the pier reopened by next April."

Due to budgetary constraints, Thomason's believe it is impossible to present a 'definitive scope' for repairs until the existing decking is removed. There is also a suggestion some off-site work may be more financially prudent - although no works are scheduled.

The financial investment to restore Southport Pier is beyond the means of Sefton Council who maintain they're actively looking into options to fund the repairs needed - expected to total around £13m. While £3m had already been set aside for works on the pier, leaders at Sefton Council stated they simply do not have the funds to pay for the works themselves and are proactively looking at sources of external funding to get the pier fixed and reopened.

Commenting on the latest report, Leader of Sefton Council, Marion Atkinson said: "The latest Pier report reaffirms, as other independent reports have, that we made the correct decision to close the Pier for safety reasons due to the legacy of problems we have inherited."

Cllr Atkinson added: "The report highlights the poor condition of the steel work due to the sub standard preparation in 2002. The report makes it clear due to the issues with the works carried out in 2002 the opportunity to implement a cyclic maintenance programme has been lost."

"Furthermore the report has identified poor fixings of the railings and areas of the Pier that are not suitable in their current configuration to support areas susceptible to overcrowding."