PLANS to restore the historic Hythe Pier have been given a boost with a £10,000 grant from a local charity.
The money from the Beaulieu Beaufort Foundation, which was established to support local organisations and individuals, will help the Hythe Pier Heritage Association (HPHA) with its plans to safeguard the structure’s future.
As previously reported in the A&T, in 2016 campaigners feared the pier was at risk after the former operator of Hythe ferry said its service was no longer viable. However, at the 11th hour a deal was secured with Blue Funnel to take it over.
Over the last 30 years the railway has suffered from a lack of maintenance, and with its constant exposure to the weather, combined with wear and tear, its condition has deteriorated to the point where urgent action is needed to preserve it.
The plan, which is expected to cost around £222,000, will include relaying the tramway to replace worn rails as well as restoring the carriages and the two tractor units.
Chair of HPHA Peter King said of the grant: “It is a great start to our funding campaign to support the restoration of the historic and much-loved pier railway. We are very grateful to the Beaulieu Beaufort Foundation for their support and endorsement of our plans.
“These funds will be used to buy the materials we need to begin the work to rebuild the railway carriages which are in a poor state of repair. The work will begin once the current restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus crisis have been lifted.”
The Hythe Pier railway first began operating in the summer of 1922 and, apart from a short period in 2003 when it was hit by a dredger, it has been operating continuously throughout the last 98 years. It is also recognised in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest continuously running electric pier train in the world.