Councillors in the UK seaside town of Southend are inviting regeneration proposals for the town’s famous pier – and have ruled out arcade games as a prospect. Current indications suggest that the new development will take the form of a hotel, with a dedicated area for entertainment and events, and dining facilities.
Speaking to local newspaper The Echo about the proposals, council leader Nigel Holdcroft attributed the decision to rule out arcade entertainment on the pier to popular demand, as well as a desire to provide something different to the town’s theme park Adventure Island. However, he does show support for the amusement sector, adding:
“If anyone has plans for another major amusement complex in Southend on this sort of scale, we would be delighted to hear from them and talk about the opportunities available. […] But I do not think this is the way forward for the pier and the public in our consultation have made it clear they want something lower key.”
Southend Pier is the world’s longest pleasure pier, stretching 1.3 miles off the Essex coast and operating its own railway in order to ferry visitors from end to end. The pier has been undergoing various regeneration projects since 2000. In 2005, a major fire caused severe damage to the Old Pier Head, including the railway and various commercial premises.
This story holds some personal significance to me, as I’ve often visited Southend and grew up associating the pier with arcade gaming. For me, it’s sad to see that they won’t play a part in the future of the town’s most prominent tourist attraction. Having said that, Southend will continue to enjoy a much higher presence of arcade entertainment than most of the UK due to the extensive strip of arcades operating along the seafront, and the town remains a good destination for any arcade hunters.