TEN years ago, two brothers in their twenties took over the ownership of Clacton Pier after putting a financial deal together.

Billy Ball, then 28, and Elliot Ball, then 25, bought the iconic attraction from the Harrison family who had been in charge since 1994.

They got to work stripping out the arcade and making changes aimed at rejuvenating the fortunes of the business and taking it to a new level.

A decade on and the two directors can be proud of what they have achieved – transforming the pier, creating a 52-week-a-year attraction..

Billy is the first to admit it has been far from plain sailing and it is only with the support of the pier “family” that they have managed to pull it off.

He said: “I can well remember those first few weeks when Elliot and I got stuck in pulling things down and finding out what we were really up against.

“I think it is fair to say that the pier had suffered from under investment over many years, but people do not realise how much money is needed just to repair and maintain a structure that is now more than 147 years old.

“That is before you even look to bring in improvements.

“We had our father, Billy Ball Snr, and other members of the family in the background – as well as the wider family of our staff committed to our dream – and it has been a case of sheer hard work and determination from many to get where we are today.

“There have been very long hours on site, sleepless nights, meetings with banks and advisors along the way but it has all been worth it.”

The first statement of intent was to bring in the helter skelter, followed by a complete refit of the Boardwalk Bar, introduction of bowling lanes, new rides such as Stella’s Revenge and the Miami.

The dilapidated swimming pool, which had previously been home to orca whales and other sea life, was mainly filled in.

The area was then occupied by go-karts and bumper boats.

More recently the Ball brothers drew up plans for a major development at the landmark costing more than £4 million.

The first phase of this was completed last July and involved Skull Point adventure golf, Discovery Bay soft play, Dockside Dodgems, the Galley Restaurant and Captain’s Table Takeaway.

Phase two is now almost finished with the whole of the front section of the pier being enclosed and made weather tight so the it can be used for winter events, as well as a new adult gaming area and other significant improvements.

In the future the brothers’ goal is to refurbish the Jolly Roger, the pier’s oldest building dating back to 1881.

It will be a home for for multi-purpose uses such as conferences, weddings, sporting and community events.

Elliot said the business needs to continue to offer even more for its customers. He said: “You simply cannot afford to standstill and we are still as driven today as we were when we took the pier over on March 16, 2009.

“We never saw this as a project to upgrade the attraction and sell it on.

“We are in it for the long haul and it is part of a family legacy.

“It is all about creating something special in memory of our father and believe he would be proud of what we have achieved.

“But, as he taught us, you cannot rest on your laurels and we look forward to the next ten years and the challenges that will come our way.”