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20 September 2002

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 An event aimed at promoting the wide range of health-related projects in Sefton takes place at the Royal Clifton Hotel in Southport next month (October).

Everyone is welcome to attend the free Active Citizens Health morning, organized by North Sefton Community Development Project. During the morning there will be a wide range of activities and health related demonstrations including reflexology, first aid and exercise.

Sue Reed, Community Development Manager, said: "The aim of the event is to promote the variety of health projects currently running in Sefton. We'll have loads of displays and demonstrations going on including reminiscence, relaxation, tai-chi and aromatherapy. Everyone is welcome to come along and have a try."

The event takes place between 9.30am and 1pm on Thursday, October 10th and refreshments will be available.

For further details contact Sue Reed or Peter Appleton at Sefton Council for Voluntary Service on 01704 501024.


An award-winning project to help men in Southport and Formby find work has reached a milestone by assisting its 100th client.

Marvin Taylor, of Ainsdale, has become the 100th man to receive support from Sefton Council for Voluntary Service's WorkSkills Inc., a project that tackles barriers to employment.

Marvin (49), a heat treatment technician working off-shore in the oil, gas and nuclear power industry, hadn't worked for three years after serving a prison sentence. On release earlier this year he wanted to renew the documents required for his career and needed to complete a variety of courses.

He approached WorkSkills Inc., which was able to fund a course so that he could obtain his SCAT card, an international passport in health and safety for the construction and engineering industry.

He passed the course and then went on to complete a first aid course with St John Ambulance in Liverpool, also funded by WorkSkills Inc.

"They have been very helpful and are still helping me, "says Marvin. "If it hadn't been for WorkSkills Inc. I wouldn't be in this position now with the right documents to get back on the rigs. I have a lot of respect for them."

"It is an excellent project but they need more funding. If it wasn't for projects like this a lot of men wouldn't be able to move forward and would be stuck on the dole. With this there is a chance they can go back to work." continued Marvin

Since completing the courses Marvin, who is also working towards a law degree through the Open University, has already been offered jobs in America and Norway.

Jackie Le Fevre, who developed WorkSkills Inc. and manages the Sefton CVS skills development unit, said:- "You only have to look at the labour market to see that men and particularly older men are having a difficult time. We are delighted that this project has been such a success and we have been able to help 100 men in the area take positive steps on the road to employment."

WorkSkills Inc. is currently funded by Merseyside Health Action Zone but will need a new benefactor from the end of March next year if its unique services are to continue.


A staggering 200,000 visitors have strolled along Southport Pier since it re-opened in May following a £7 million restoration programme.

This far outstrips the annual figure of 100,000 reported prior to the pier closing in 1996.

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"These figures are incredible and are only those who have walked to the seaward end of the pier. They just show how important the pier is in attracting visitors and boosting the town's tourism economy." says Lord Fearn, Sefton's Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Tourism. 

"Residents and visitors alike have recognised just what a superb attraction the pier is. It is one of which we are really proud."

Since the pier re-opened less than five months ago people of all ages have been flocking to Southport to walk the full length of Britain's oldest pier. The pier had been shortened following a fire at the seaward end but has now been restored to its full length.

David Knowles, chairman of the Southport Pier Trust, said: "The number of visitors we have received justifies the work that has taken place to save the pier. It is an outstanding achievement which puts Southport on the map as the major tourism venue in the North West."

At one time it was feared the Victorian landmark would be bulldozed after rescue-package problems and the collapse of a construction company. But Britain's oldest and second-longest pier has been saved for future generations.

Visitors can now enjoy spectacular views from the end of the pier across Liverpool Bay to North Wales and the new modern, contemporary designed pavilion features an exhibition on the history of the pier and also the local natural habitat, coffee shop and seating area.

A further £2 million is now being sought for the fitting out of the visitor centre at the end of the pier, a new passenger tram, a tram station and new pier entrance.

The restoration work has been by the Merseyside Objective I programme, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Central Southport Partnership.


The pier was officially opened on August 2 1860 with a grand gala including procession, banquet, firework display and ball.

It was one of the earliest built using iron and was often referred to as the first pleasure pier.

It cost £8,700 and at 3,600 ft in length is the second longest in the country behind Southend.

Objection was raised to the length of the walk so on May 7th 1863 a single-track tramway was opened. This was followed by the first cable tramway for passenger traffic in the world that opened in 1865.

Over the years the pier has undergone many changes due to fire and storm damage. The first major fire was in 1897 when damage was estimated at £4,000 and destroyed the pier head and pavilion. This led to the construction of a grand building at the old entrance called the Pier Pavilion where many stars performed including Gracie Fields and George Formby.

In 1933, a blaze destroyed 150 yards of the pier including an extension, concert pavilion and clubroom. Damage was estimated at £5-6,000.

The third fire in 1959 destroyed the bar, café, amusement arcade and landing stage. Damage was estimated at £50,000 and the length of the pier was further reduced.

The most recent fire was in February this year only weeks after renovation work had started. The former arcade at the end of the pier and 180 ft of decking was destroyed.

During World War II, the pier was closed to the public so searchlights could be installed to help destroy German bombers on their way to Liverpool.

The pier has been at the centre of many strange events. From 1894-95 the winters were so cold that even the sea froze beyond the end of the pier.

Pier divers entertained crowds during the Victorian era like Professor Osborne who specialised in riding a bicycle off the end of the pier, Sid Smith or 'Dare Devil Tootzer' as he became known, who dived into the sea from the pier train as it was in motion and Professor Gadsby, the one-legged diver who was well known for diving into a sea of flames.

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