It was a case of peer meets pier today as Worthing’s seafront landmark was awarded a top national honour for the second time.
To mark Worthing Pier winning the National Piers Society’s ‘Pier of the Year’ competition for 2019, a ceremony was held at the pavilion café.
Dame Joan Bakewell, a baroness in the House of Lords and patron of the society, handed over the award to the mayor of Worthing Paul Baker.
The Labour peer praised the iconic Art Deco, Grade II listed building which was first opened in 1862, saying: “Worthing is a queen of piers, there is no question about it.”
Worthing last won the award in 2006, making it one of a handful of piers across the country to be crowned twice.
Before accepting the honour, Mr Baker said it was a ‘tremendous’ achievement.
He said: “The pier has been a part of my life for as long as I have lived.
“I remember fishing off the pier – not catching anything, but fishing nonetheless – and the new amusements, which aren’t so new anymore: the amusement arcade.
“What a thrill it was: being a young boy walking along the pier and feeling like I was on a sea voyage, imagining I was out sailing the seven seas.
“We have won it twice; now lets go for the hat-trick.”
Dame Bakewell, a broadcaster and journalist, was part of the House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns, which published a report on April 4 outlining what coastal communities can do to reinvent themselves.
Brighton was cited as an example of a successful transition from holiday resort to a thriving city.
Dame Bakewell said that the regeneration of Worthing Pier and its Southern Pavilion by Worthing Borough Council was an example of this right here in our town.
She said: “It is a sublime example of what a pier does and the variety it offers.
“I wish I lived nearer. It is a wonderful party venue. Get married here; get divorced, even.
“I hope it bears fruit and has a long and illustrious life attracting people to Worthing.”
Among dignitaries at the event was Susan Belton, chairman of the Worthing Society. She said the group was ‘delighted’, adding: “I feel our heritage is here to be enjoyed by the whole town, and this building is a magnificent example of that.”