WORKS are underway on a £300,000 project to strengthen the structures holding up Clacton Pier.

More than 3,000 concrete piles support the pier and many are more than 90 years old.

Pier bosses say there have been few significant repairs carried out since they were first put in place and small sections of the outer concrete are starting to crumble in places, exposing the metal reinforcements.

Some of those now need need cutting out and replacing so the pier can take the increased weight of planned developments.

Pier director Billy Ball said the work on the piles will take around two years to complete.

He said: “It was a bit of a daunting prospect when we started out as we believe that about 500 of the piles will need some repairs carried out so that they will hold good for another 100-years or so.

“It was important to ensure that everything was in order below deck for us to go ahead with our plans to make the pier a modern all-weather 52 week a year attraction.”

A firm of contractors were initially employed to get the project underway but now Mr Ball said an in-house team is getting specialist training to continue with the programme.

He is also looking to employ a couple more people with construction experience, who can handle a grinder and breaker, to join the team with the prospect of being kept on afterwards.

“We prefer all our work to be carried out by local labour wherever possible and that is why we want to carry on with the project ourselves,” added Mr Ball.

“It involves stripping back the concrete to the reinforcement rods, taking out the old metal where necessary and replacing it before using a specialist repair mortar and covering over using hand tools.”

The work has to be carried out at low tide and it has meant some early starts for Peter Burns, who has been working on the job throughout.

He said: “The worst was a 3am start but you soon get used to it. We are making steady progress and the main thing is to do a proper job.”

Anyone interested in joining the team under the pier should contact Sharon Charters by emailing or calling 01255 421115.