Brothers celebrate 15 years at helm

by Nigel Brown Mar 11 2024 7     2,849
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March 11, 2024


Two brothers are set to celebrate 15 years at the helm of Europe’s largest pleasure pier.

Billy and Elliot Ball took over Clacton Pier on March 16, 2009 and have steered the iconic seaside attraction through several stormy waters over the past decade and a half.

Not least of these was the collapse of the west corner of the ride deck on Valentine’s Day in 2020 due to the effects of Storm Ciara, followed just weeks later by the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.

Government restrictions closed the site for a number of months over two periods with the subsequent loss of income.

However, none of this distracted the brothers from their goal of continuing to restore the pier to its former glory and create a legacy for their family which will also benefits the town and district’s tourism offer.

Many millions of pounds have been pumped into major improvements including new developments, attractions and rides.

At the same time cash has continually been poured into the maintenance and upkeep of a structure that is almost 153 years old.

All this has been achieved, while at the same time remaining at the centre of the community with regular events and supporting charities and groups.

Director Billy Ball said it is no exaggeration to describe the 15 years as a roller coaster of a ride.

“From the day that Elliot and I were handed the keys and discovered the real state of the attraction to where we are now it has been a massive challenge,” he said.

“That is in no way to detract from the major efforts of those who proceeded us as each has played such a huge part in simply ensuring the pier is still here and operating.

“We always had a plan – and we have one for the future – and we are working our way through that as and when the money and opportunities arise.

“If anyone asked me the secret of the success we have had so far it would be hard work, determination and the bloody mindedness we have drawn on to meet the challenges that arise when running an attraction 6.5 acres in size and one that takes a constant pounding from the North Sea.”

The brothers were 28 and 25 respectively when they bought the pier from the Harrison family.

“We were relatively young, energetic and fully prepared to get stuck in. We are still the same men but a little bit older and wiser. Our commitment to the business and area remains undiminished and we are still driven to do better,” added Billy.

“We are not regenerating the pier to sell it on – we are in it for the long haul and it has very much become our life from day one.”

He was also quick to praise staff, suppliers, contractors, family and friends who have helped make the dream come true.

“There is no possible way that we could have done it without them and their support has been immense and kept us going,” Billy said.

“It might be a cliché, but it has been a real team effort and will always have to be.”

The largest single project was a £4million development in 2018 which made the pier a true all year round attraction. It involved a soft play area, adventure golf, first floor dodgems, new food and drink areas as well as weather proofing the pier’s central concourse.

Last year the brothers proudly opened Jurassic Pier, an exciting interactive walkthrough experience leading to a 4-D special effects cinema with motion seating.

Some of the latest rides have included a Big Wheel, Log Flume, and the Looping Star Roller Coaster. On top of that the amusement arcade has been revamped with new machines and the Boardwalk Bar and Grill given a totally new look.

“With 15 years under our belt we are continuing to plan ahead with new projects always in the pipeline,” said Billy.

“One major ambition is to transform the Jolly Roger building – put up in 1893 – into a multi-purpose venue fit for the 21st century while being sympathetic to its incredible heritage.

“We want it to involve significant community use and when this goes ahead very much depends on the funding being available. The challenges continue and we will tackle them in exactly the same way as we always have – head-on!”


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Dan 1 month ago

Great work guys, you have done the town proud.

Martin Jones 1 month ago

The success of Clacton Pier is critical to the success of Clacton on sea.
Well done guys your investment is making the town look good for the future.

Sarah McGougan 1 month ago

extremely well run, great staff, friendly and welcoming.....yes, keep up the good work

Ricky Page 1 month ago

Staff very welcoming excellent facilities very good value for money

John Birch 1 month ago

Keep up the great work you should be very proud both of you

John Birch 1 month ago

Keep up the great work you should be very proud both of you

John Birch 1 month ago

Keep up the great work you should be very proud both of you

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