BERWICK Pier is in need of substantial repairs again, just three months since a £2 million restoration project which closed the structure for 18 months was completed.
Recent gales and high tides have ripped up part of the concrete walkway between Crabwater Corner and the lighthouse.
The pier remains open to the public but walkers have been asked to take extra care until repairs can be carried out.
“The amount of damage that’s been done is unbelievable,” said Coun Brian Douglas, who ventured out on Monday to take a look.
“A southerly gale, together with the angle of the tide, has taken out a substantial section of the walkway about 40 yards up from Crabwater Corner to the lighthouse.
“There’s lots of broken stonework, so much so that I had to get a council sweeper along there. Large slabs of stone have deteriorated literally overnight and there are holes along the path.”
Coun Douglas, who represents Berwick North on Northumberland County Council, had accompanied officers on an earlier inspection of the recent restoration work.
“We already knew that further work was needed to finish off the surface walkways but there’s now been considerably more damage which will require further substantial works,” he revealed.
The latest repair scheme, funded by the Environment Agency, was originally estimated at £900,000 but the extent of the work required, along with the extra time it took, saw the costs soar.
The south side of the pier facing the estuary was the worst affected area and required the replacement of a lot of missing and damaged stonework and repositioning of protruding, loose or displaced blocks.
“The pier is something of a bottomless pit,” admitted Coun Douglas. “It’s going to be costing us money forever more. There is contingency funding available and I’ve had county council officers up to have a look at it but we will probably wait until better weather arrives in the spring before the repairs are carried out.”
A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said: “We did carry out an initial assessment of the pier in early December. As a result of a more recent report from Coun Douglas we have arranged for a further inspection within the next few weeks, with a representative of the company who worked on the refurbishment.
“We will determine whether further work is required and, so long as it is not considered to be urgent, will arrange for this to be carried out during the spring/summer this year.”
The 960-yard long pier, a Grade II listed structure, was built between 1810 and 1821 to protect the entrance to the River Tweed and provide an easier passenge into the estuary for ships visiting Tweed Dock. It also provides a vital defence for Tweedmouth and Spittal.