Blackpool News / Blog Blackpool’s Piers Receive International Recognition with inclusion on the 2018 World Monuments Watch 16 October 2017 by Visit Blackpool The World Monuments Fund has announced that Blackpool’s piers are to be included on the 2018 World Monuments Watch, a call to action for cultural heritage sites facing imminent threats and challenges, helping create opportunities for positive change. Since 1996, founded in partnership with American Express, the World Monuments Watch has served as a catalyst for action for hundreds of sites, leading to improved safeguarding of places of cultural heritage, more suitable tourism management, and increased community engagement. The historic Blackpool piers are included on the 2018 Watch due to threats from the effects of climate change. Blackpool is unique in being the only UK seaside resort with three piers and grade II listed North Pier is particularly significant as it is now the oldest remaining example of a pier designed by Eugenius Birch using his revolutionary screw pile system. They also incorporate important and innovative design and engineering elements that make them a unique collection of seaside structures. Blackpool Council Leader, Cllr Simon Blackburn, says he has long been concerned for the future of the piers in the face of significant changes to both weather patterns including rising sea levels and what people are looking for in a seaside holiday. He said: “We are delighted that the Worlds Monuments Fund has recognised the significance of Blackpool’s piers. We know how important they are historically and that they are key flagships for our tourist offer. “They are also vital to our community in terms of resort identity, heritage, employment and community pride. “The piers are three of the most iconic structures in Blackpool and we need to ensure that through local and international collaboration that they remain significant features of the town to be enjoyed by future generations. “Being included on the watch list offers real opportunities for dialogue with central government as well as other towns, nationally and internationally, that are experiencing the same problems.” Joan Humble, chair of Blackpool Civic Trust welcomed the announcement and said: “We know people in Blackpool are concerned about the future of the piers, particularly North Pier, which has seen serious damage from storms over the last few years. “Part of the problem is that often, private owners can only do so much and there are understandable limits on how much public money can be spent on what are effectively private businesses. “We have to begin talking about what the future of our piers is for the next hundred years and how we protect them into the future.” All three of Blackpool’s piers are hugely significant in the history of the town. The entrepreneurial pier builders were in part responsible for how the town developed with all three close to railway stations; creating hubs for tourist activity with the town growing around them. Recent research published by AOL (2016) has shown that a walk along the pier is the most popular activity for visitors to the British seaside. However, all three of Blackpool’s piers face serious challenges from climate change, changing tourism trends and funding. Increased damage from storm surges combined with rising sea levels are one of the biggest challenges for the UK’s pleasure piers, but they are not alone. Piers and boardwalks across the Atlantic on America’s east coast are also suffering increased storm activity as weather patterns change. This offers sites like Blackpool the opportunity to look at what is happening worldwide and identify what can be done with local, national and international partners to protect these vulnerable structures. The National Piers Society estimate that 20% of piers are currently ‘at risk’ of being lost and it is significant that many of the coastal towns that lost their piers during recent decades have struggled to maintain their identity as seaside resorts or have significantly declined as destinations. Tim Wardley, Chairman of the National Piers Society, also welcomed the inclusion of Blackpool’s piers on the 2018 Watch. “Blackpool is such an important place. In fact it is probably unique in the history and development of a seaside resort, the seaside holiday and piers, with the Tower, Winter Gardens and Pleasure Beach at the heart of that importance. “So few resorts have so much infrastructure intact and still enjoyed by the public which tell the story of a seaside community born through tourism. “This is an opportunity for Blackpool to lead the way in a dialogue that has the potential to help other piers across the country and to raise the profile of the difficult situation many of them are in today. We’ve already been working closely with the council to see how we can bring people together as part of understanding the future of the piers and how we protect them.” The World Monuments Watch gives local communities opportunities to understand the importance of their heritage and to work with local and central government to find ways forward to meet the challenges. In the case of Blackpool’s piers, the 2018 Watch will help those involved identify next steps and offer expertise from around the globe to explore what can be done. Blackpool Council is now completing an action plan setting out how it will work with the World Monuments Fund and other local and national partners to create a programme of events and activities that both highlight serious issues and bring people back to the piers to celebrate their place in Blackpool’s seaside story.