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The new owner of Inveraray’s iconic but neglected pier has plans to re-open it to the public – but only after refurbishment work is complete.
The pier has been purchased by the Colonsay-based Byrne family, owners of the nearby Inveraray Inn.
Earlier this week company director Geaspar Byrne spoke exclusively to the Argyllshire Advertiser about the reasons for buying the pier and what lies ahead.
Mr Byrne said: ‘I have an interest in Inveraray and want to see it doing well. It is obvious to everyone that the pier not being open is a resource wasted.’
Inveraray Pier has been in existence since 1759. Comprising an older stone-built section and later timber structure, it was once a thriving hub for Inveraray’s herring fleet and a popular destination for passenger steamers. It was used by everything from pleasure craft to puffers, with the military also making good use of it over the years.
In more recent times it has fallen into disrepair and was closed off to public access in the last decade.
‘When we heard it was for sale we decided to make a bid,’ continued Mr Byrne.
‘It would have been a shame to see it fall into the hands of someone who would want to use it just as a private pier. It’s about securing its future.’
The Byrne family intends to re-open the pier for public use – but Mr Byrne is keen to dampen speculation about the potential future uses for the structure.
Before anything else happens, the condition of the stone and wooden sections must be assessed, and reports have been commissioned from engineers and conservation architects.
‘I don’t want to raise expectation unnecessarily, but the most likely scenario is that we look to re-open the stone pier first of all,’ explained Mr Byrne.
Repairs would be needed to the stone structure and ironwork. New handrails and safety equipment would be needed along with lighting and basic security measures such as CCTV.
Beyond that, the future of the wooden pier looks less certain. if refurbishment is not an option, alternatives might include floating pontoons, while the potential for dredging around the pier and harbour might be considered.
Through an agent, The Argyll Partnership, the Byrne family has contacted the Clyde Marine Planning Partnership with a view to having Inveraray included in the fledgling Clyde Regional Marine Plan, stressing that the pier ‘represents a great opportunity to contribute to the economic, social and environmental needs of the Clyde Marine Region’.
And the new owners have said that the community council, Inspire Inveraray and others from the area will be fully involved as the redevelopment takes shape. The plans are also said to have the backing of the Duke of Argyll.
Mr Byrne concluded: ‘Hopefully local people will want to help and come forward with ideas.
‘I don’t want to raise hopes at this early stage, but I hope that buying the pier is a good thing to do.’