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Auctioneer to sell South Parade Pier at Ageas Bowl sale
10:22am Monday 19th November 2012 in News
A rare opportunity has arisen to buy one of Britain’s few remaining private piers .
South Parade pier set to go under the auctioneer’s hammer with a guide price of £190-210,000.
The pier in Southsea is one of about 55 that remain in Britain.
The unusual lot is among 135 being sold through Clive Emson, the regional land and property auctioneers, next month.
The pier was completed in 1878 then officially opened by Prince Edward and has had a colourful history – having hosted some of the biggest names in show business and also been on fire three times.
The last occasion was in 1974 during the filming of the rock opera Tommy and, in a scene from the film involving Oliver Reed, smoke is visible.
The Victorian pier began life at a time when Disraeli was Prime Minister and we were fighting the Zulus in South Africa.
It started as a terminal for ferries that travelled to and from the Isle of Wight, but in 1904 it suffered its first fire and was completely rebuilt at a cost of £85,000.
The new “pleasure pier” became a centre for entertainment and later boasted a 1,200 seat theatre that attracted the biggest names of the day.
At the outbreak of war the pier was requisitioned by the government and it played a key role in the D-Day preparation and embarkation.
After the war it attracted the heroes of the age including Frankie Howerd and Peter Sellers then it was rebuilt again in 1967 following a second fire.
After that, stars including David Bowie and Genesis played there and after the 1974 fire the pier was rebuilt in sympathy with its history and it now it boasts several venues.
There is the “Gaiety Suite” with a capacity of 750 that includes a stage, dressing rooms, kitchens and bar, and also a smaller licensed bar with a capacity of 400.
A substantial basement that has lain unused for many years is also included and there is the “open east passage” that leads to the southern end of the pier that used to house fairground-style stalls, rides and crazy golf.
It also has a boardroom, a fishing platform and stunning views across the Solent and the Isle of Wight beyond.
Earlier this year the pier closed and does require investment. However, experts believe the building has the potential to become a major attraction once again.
It will go under the hammer at 11am on December 12, at the Ageas Bowl.
Rob Marchant from Clive Emson, said: “The pier offers huge scope, but needs investment, and might be snapped up for the price of a three-bedroom semi.
“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.”
Details of the freeholder have not been disclosed.
A spokesman for the National Piers Society says: “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.”