Weston-super-Mare pier reopens two years after fire

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Thousands of people queued in pouring rain for the reopening of Weston-super-Mare's Grand Pier, which has undergone a £39m transformation.

There was no official ceremony, just the simple removal of a barrier.

A spokeswoman for the Somerset landmark - closed since fire destroyed its pavilion in July 2008 - said the pier could only hold 6,700 people.

Co-owner Kerry Michael said he was proud of the end result, which he and his sister had worked hard to achieve.

"It's just brilliant to see everybody fill the pavilion with laughter and joy. It was almost a stampede at 10 o'clock (when it opened)," he said.

"We did have a big opening planned, but when we didn't get open when we wanted to, we decided just to open the doors and make it for everybody, not just one or two people. We will have an official opening at some stage."

New rides

The pier now boasts the UK's first laser maze and the only double one in the world.

The landmark, which has been redesigned with a modern glass fronted building by Bristol-based architects Angus Meek, is also home to Britain's smallest rollercoaster - the Robocoaster - a large robotic arm ride.

The biggest ride is a 300m electric floor pick-up go-kart track, which is the only one of its kind in the UK and cost £1m.

Image caption,
It has cost more than £39m to rebuild the pier

The pier was expected to be completed in June, but has been hit by several setbacks.

The reopening was attended by Tourism Minister John Penrose, who is also the MP for the town.

Earlier, the pier's spokeswoman warned people to expect queues, but said there would be entertainers in the street to keep them occupied.

The Grade II-listed pier first opened in 1904.

The first pavilion was destroyed in a fire in 1930 and, two years ago, an electrical fault caused the second fire.

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