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Pier renovation team celebrates arrival of super-strong glass visitor centre

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Written by: Gavin Thompson | Posted 26 February 2016 6:00

Pier renovation team celebrates arrival of super-strong glass visitor centre
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Award-winning Bristol architects O’LearyGoss celebrated the placement of a £300,000 glass superstructure on Clevedon’s Grade I Listed Pier’s £2.25 million new visitor’s centre.

The balustrade for the upper-viewing terrace has been installed along with glass superstructure around the new visitor’s centre which is set to be finished in mid-April

Architect Robert O’Leary said: “It has been the kind of formidable challenge O'LearyGoss love, dealing with the second highest tidal range on the globe and it’s fantastic to see the glass superstructure installed.

“The pier’s under-deck porthole window has been thoroughly tested against the worst of recent rain and storms. It’s a round window allowing previously unseen views of the pier’s elegant Victorian structure.

“The circular stone surround being installed by Hancock Stone is natural Forest of Dean Pennant stone to match that used to build the pier’s approach and Toll House in the 1860s.”

The super-strong, solar controlling glass is supplied by Bristol-based Glasssolutions. The visitor centre contractor, Beard Construction, has set up a temporary retractable roof allowing work to progress in winter weather, including the delivery of large glass sections.

Clevedon Pier visitor centre installation

Pictured: The glass structure of Clevedon Pier visitor centre during installation

O’LearyGoss’ imaginative design sees the glass superstructure at the Marine Parade end and will house Tiffin Tea Room with toilets, function and education room, shop and exhibition space plus top-deck viewing platform.

Visitor numbers are up despite the detour over scaffolding during construction.

Clevedon Pier is the only Grade I Listed pier in England and O’LearyGoss spent four years planning the unique project.

Financial support came from a number of charitable trusts and included £720,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £825,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund.

Ninety per cent of funds were raised with the Pier Trust also bringing a £250,000 in through a community share issue from over 1,100 local investors.

Plans for Clevedon Pier visitor centre

Pictured: Plans for the new visitor centre on Clevedon Pier

Chairman of Clevedon Pier Board Simon Talbot-Ponsonby said: “O’LearyGoss’ fabulous new building will secure the long term future of the pier for everyone.

“This project is the culmination of many years work and new facilities will help visitors fully appreciate the pier and allow our Trust to be financially self-sufficient.”

Clevedon Pier was a remarkable engineering feat for the 60-strong team of men who began work on it 18 months before it opened in 1869 at a cost of around £12,000.

Built from discarded Barlow Rails used by Isambard Kingdom Brunel on the Great Western Railway it stretched 850 feet out on the Severn Estuary which has at 50ft tidal range.

In 1985 the pier was dismantled and re-opened in 1989 but full restoration took until 1998 by which time costs had reached £4.2 million.

The long-term maintenance of the pier is around £1 million every decade to cover major repainting and repairs.

O’LearyGoss is a 12-strong team of Redland-based architects who are also behind the £5.2 million transformation of The Regent in Clevedon’s Victorian conservation area on Hill Road.

The Regent, a derelict 19th Century former bakery, hotel, pub and restaurant is now luxury apartments, shop and local Sainsbury with high levels of sustainability and renewable energy.

O’LearyGoss has also completed a number of multi-million pound projects in Portland Square, Bristol, “Seeleys Hotel” and Bridge House in Clifton and The Robinson Building in Bedminster.

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