In 2016 the Shotley community was dismayed to see their pier, which they viewed as a leisure facility, being advertised as a ‘retail opportunity’. A community group was formed, and through a combination of online crowdfunding and appealing to locals, raised £62,000 for a community share offer, which Power to Change matched. Group member Sally Chicken described the whole process as running “like a dream”, as it set the group up with the money it would need to buy the pier as a community.
Generating income through planks and plaques
The first 98 feet of the 650-foot long pier opened in 2021. So, while there is – both literally and figuratively – a long way to go yet, visitors can already walk along the pier as far as current renovations allow.
The group sells railing plaques which people can purchase and engrave with a personal message to be displayed on the pier. It also offers people the opportunity to sponsor planks and have their names upon them – one plank was even sponsored by the likes of ‘Misty the Cat’. Funds from these sponsorships are in turn used to pay for the pier’s new railings.
“We’ve always known the pier has a special place in people’s hearts, because they used to walk on it, go fishing with their grandad – whatever it was,” said Sally Chicken, Shotley Pier. “To actually see the messages, and to see people coming and laying a rose on their plank plaque – it really illustrates for us and the public just how much people care.”
Supply chain issues during the Covid-19 pandemic
Due to a combination of the issues raised by Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, items like railing clips and metal mesh proved incredibly hard to come by. The pier was even featured on the ITV news in September 2020 as an example of where national supply chains were falling short. While volunteers were able to continue their work on the decking as scheduled, the pandemic caused a number of material supply issues. The public opening of the pier was delayed by around half a year.
Future plans for the pier project
Working within a framework of finishing 150-feet at a time, the group will continue to source grant money to get the pier finished. Finishing the pier bit by bit will give locals and benefactors a chance to walk along and enjoy it, even as it’s still being built.
The group has just launched its next appeal to locals and will soon launch another round of crowdfunding. It is also looking into becoming a charity and accepting donations.