End of the pier show

I was wondering why it was so hard to get out of my street today, thanks to the adjoining main road being blocked by badly parked cars of hideous design and colour. Upon winding my way through the aforementioned Chelsea tractors and sheeple carriers to go about some vital business I discovered the root of the problem.

I forgot this (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/unlocking-gates-to-queen-s-pier-will-be-historic-moment-1-7875883 ) was on.

Oh…….. yuk!

I should say that I’ve known Tom for a number of years, and he’s a great bloke. He is the cheery optimist behind a number of the island’s earliest and most innovative green projects, inevitably done on shoestring budgets and in the face of official disinterest or disapproval. Unlike the average Manx ecological lemon-sucker, Tom’s projects were done out of sheer curiosity and love of experiment – just to see if they were possible. As he is retired anyway, with no desire or need to work, they were also not sly career moves disguised as environmental evangelism.

Tom also has a…. somewhat mischievous … approach to Elfin Safety regulations. Inevitably, on being told he could not do something, he did it anyway and claimed to have “forgotten” about the restriction due to his advanced years. But the resulting thing would be so well built that there would have been a public outcry if he’d been told to dismantle it, so it stayed. They have not been maintained since, but ironically that is not so much due to government neglect as other green meanies of a more mercenary nature, who regarded their simple and effective design as a career threat and so left them to fall apart.

So, if anybody can see the project through it will be him, and good luck to him personally. But I still see no point in it, other than as an excuse for some old codgers to tinker about enthusiastically with something a lot bigger than a train set, and definitely no argument for public funding.

Apart from anything else, a vital part of the original structure (the connecting part which gave it an ‘L’ shape and offered weather protection for berthed craft) was removed 25 years ago and cannot be rebuilt. So at best you could restore a shortish walkway and ….. do what, exactly?

And who, under the age of 70, actually cares anyway?

As a stand-alone tourist attraction, it would attract, well …. nobody who could get there unaided or would spend money. As a part of a “package” to attract the grockles to Ramsey …. where else would they go?

What else in town, apart from some naff Chinese paving slabs and a Costa, is there to look at? The park is a mess, the new swimming pool is falling apart already, Mooragh Prom has more rusty motor homes than an Alabama trailer park, and the bridge between them and the main town is usually out of action.

The original appeal for restoration was at the time when the connecting area was removed and the main drag stripped of anything of architectural or historical interest. This, coincidentally, was at the time the Villa Marina Arcade was being similarly “asset-stripped”. UK scrap yards must have made a fortune. The argument was that a restored pier could tap into the emerging heritage market, based on recently retired, relatively healthy and mobile, tourists on fat final salary pensions.

But that market has been dead for at least a decade. The strongest proof of that is that Culture Vannin and the Tourist Department (neither of whom live in the same century as the rest of us) have just started pushing it as an excuse for lifetime salary funding.

So, finally, the only people to whom this project is of interest will be dead – or at the very least dead broke – by the time any meaningful restoration is done. I do wish the bodgers and codgers well, though at heart they must know it is as fanciful as raising the Titanic.


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