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Securing the Future of Rochester Pier

The FoRCE team

20 May 2022

The latest news from Friends of Rochester Churchfields & Esplanade

The decline of Rochester pier has been a matter of concern for a number of our Friends, Members and Committee for some time now, particularly since the floating and moving sections - the pontoon and brow - were found to have significant structural problems resulting in the whole pier closing to the public for safety reasons. Along with other local groups and parties, we’ve been asking Medway Council to make the issues with the pier a higher priority for a while, and in fact, just a few weeks ago, we heard that some funding would be allocated to address some of the issues. Things were just getting into gear to secure the pier’s future when part of the structure failed and the brow separated from the pontoon and sank.

The Friends of Rochester Churchfields and Esplanade had, in the last few months, established a dedicated river position on our committee and were about to begin consulting with our Friends and Members about their views and hopes for the pier. Following news of the collapse, we reached out to them to reassure them that we intend to be involved in any discussions about repair and restoration of the pontoon, and will work hard towards having at least the fixed structure reopened to the public as soon as possible. We’ve asked for their feedback, and a number of them have emailed Kristian Hansen, our committee member for the River, to express their dismay at the collapse, tell us how the pier was important to their enjoyment of the Esplanade area and Rochester as a whole, and suggest ways in which we can improve and preserve it.

We hope that this latest event will galvanise the council to further prioritise the pier, and listen to the views of local groups and residents about its future. Efforts were already underway to form a dedicated organisation to repair, restore and preserve the pier, and we at FoRCE have every intention of being part of that initiative. Whilst we’re not in a position to do much about the structural repairs that are now urgently needed, we do feel we can do a lot towards the restoration and beautification of the fixed structure, and have already gathered some ideas for improvements and projects which could showcase such things as local history and creativity, the landscape of the river and the Medway Valley, the impressive architecture of the Rochester Castle and Bridge, and even sustainable maintenance methods.

As concerning as the collapse of the brow and pontoon is, we at FoRCE believe this is a good opportunity to move forward faster with our partners and other local organisations to step up the efforts to return the pier to its former glory. Our Friends and Members are telling us that the pier is central to the enjoyment of the Esplanade by residents and visitors, and we intend to work hard to have this important asset returned to public use in our beautiful town, better than ever, as soon as is practically possible.

For further information please contact: river@esplanadefriends.org.uk

Kristian Hansen 07964 266480 or Terry Clennell on 07973 300729