I posted a Youtube video yesterday showing the unlikely combination of a fire alarm going off while the Pier basement is flooding:
This morning, the water is still flowing and saturating the beach for a good distance away from the Pier. Happily for residents and hotel visitors, at least the fire alarm has been stopped – someone literally hit it with a hammer until it stopped ringing. I’m told nobody is going to do anything about the water until after Easter.
As it was a nice low tide, and a beautiful morning, I headed down to the beach for a walk and to see how the Pier looked. From a distance, it doesn’t look too bad, though if you zoom in to the full-size version you can just about see despite the pixellation that some of the columns are no longer vertical:
But when you get close, you can see the original hole in the western side of the deck is getting larger, and there is now another one on the right hand side of the picture below:
Standing back a bit further, you can see in the area on the right how the lengthwise frame which supports the deck has been deformed compared to the concrete deck above it, and it now wobbles about a foot off a straight line overall. Consequently there’s a danger that the deck isn’t sitting properly on the frame, and the frame isn’t sitting properly on the columns. In the ellipse to the left, you can see a beam has fallen out and is resting on a rusty truss which itself is broken and in danger of falling away:
The City Council seem to think it’s safe to leave this threat covered by “informal agreements” with the new owners. Three people walked their dog under the Pier while I was taking these photos. The security guard quite rightly came down and told them not to, but he has no power to prevent anyone going under the Pier and the Pier is still not properly fenced off. People, please, do not go under the Pier. It is not safe! All my photos for some time now have been taken from just outside the structure, and even then I don’t hang about!
Moving round to the eastern side of the Pier, the low sun early in the morning brings out all sorts of colours. It also allows you to see clearly how stalactites are forming on the underside of the concrete deck as water seeps through cracks:
These are the first photos I’ve taken which really show the complexity of the ironwork out at the seaward end of the Pier. You can see several of the columns are well off the vertical and some of them will need replacing by the new owners urgently if the deformation of the structure is going to be stopped:
There’s no time to lose with repairing the Pier, and it’s important that the City Council makes sure any public money going to the new owners is going to be spent in support of a clear programme of works that safeguards the entire structure. Community Infrastructure Levy money has a clear legal purpose – it is not to be used merely to subsidise a business, it must support some kind of genuine development for the public’s benefit. To their credit, PCC have refused to allow the owners to remove the wooden hoardings that close off the area under the canopy at the front and have asked for more detail from the new owners than the seven-page plan submitted so far. Nick Moore (@backinpompey on Twitter) took this photo the other day of a repair that was done in the hope that PCC would allow the canopy area to be reopened:
That sort of work might stop the sign falling down over Easter, but the Pier as a whole needs a lot more TLC than patching up with plywood. The City Council must finally, and three years belatedly, take its statutory responsibilities seriously and make sure that happens. Bits will keep falling off in the meantime.
The last picture is of a bit of iron I picked up, which would once have been one of the plates that sit (or are really wedged) between the various bits of ironwork holding up the deck. As the iron is oxidised by rusting it laminates, expands, and cracks, while effectively pushing apart the materials it is wedged between. When the storm knocked some of the columns and beams out of place, dozens of these plates fell out and were washed up. That must mean there is a lot of the structure now not properly tied together: