Published: 05:00, 24 November 2021
| Updated: 15:01, 24 November 2021
Sheppey could get a new pier and marina in an ambitious plan launched today. (Nov 24)
Des Cross, a volunteer director who chairs Queenborough Harbour Trust, has come up with a multi-million pound scheme to recreate the golden days when the town had two famous piers.
Flushing Pier next to what was the Abbott Laboratories site now owned by Recipharm was used by trains to take passengers to ferries.
The other, also long since demolished, was used by HMS Wildfire minesweepers near the Old House at Home pub.
There is now a causeway allowing dinghy-owners, jet-skiers and Queenborough Rowing Club to access the water at low tide.
Mr Cross, 69, says he wants to breathe new life into the town which is already a popular mooring for sailors from the continent and those breaking journeys to and from London.
He said: “It will be the first new pier to be built in England for many years and will retell the stories and recapture the essence of the old piers.”
He says it would bring “major benefits” including 24-hour access to the sea without lock gates and provide an area for exercise, entertainment and mental wellbeing for individuals and families.
The two piers would be linked by a walkway at their ends to form a rectangular haven for yachts.
It will be a major attraction for the area and unique.
But he admitted: “To make this happen, there are many hurdles to overcome in terms of approvals, design, funding and construction.
"However, all of these are surmountable with enough determination, planning and support.”
To kick things off, he is appealing for any photos, paintings, drawings or plans of the old Flushing or Wildfire piers.
He said: “These would be hugely beneficial.
"We have already found some copies but we are interested in those which aren’t in the public domain, which might be in people’s photo albums or stashed in the attic.”
He stressed: “This is not a Queenborough Harbour Trust project.
"It is too big for the trust and totally separate.
"To ensure it pushes ahead I need to establish a managing group or committee and a new trust so it has energy, ideas, knowledge and continuity.”
He says he is planning to step down from the harbour trust in the new year to concentrate on the new project.
It is not the first time there have been plans for a marina at Queenborough.
In 2014 there was a scheme to convert the creek, paid for by a housing development.
But that has sunk without trace after Swale council said it had been unable to find any backers. It also needed lock gates.
Former ferry owner Dave Wilcock came up with building a marina in front of the Ship on Shore pub in Sheerness. And Peel Ports, which owns Sheerness Docks, has included a marina near Tesco’s Sheerness store in its 20-year master plan.
In recent years, part of Herne Bay Pier has been renovated and now contains stalls, children's funfair and an open-air theatre.
Southend Pier remains an attraction and during the summer Jetstream runs a ferry service to it from Queenborough.
Deal Pier is the last remaining fully intact leisure pier in Kent. It was opened in November 1957 by the Duke of Edinburgh and extensively refurbished in 1997. A new pier-head with restaurant was added in 2008.