The People’s Pier research project investigates community piers as an emerging form of community hubs. It focuses on two related aspects of seaside piers and community connectivity; first how communities of place may be strengthened in their confidence by taking collective action to safeguard a local heritage asset like the pier and second how the community pier and its popular culture heritage can be utilised to build positive relationships across different groups and empower the community.
With an interdisciplinary team of researchers, creative practitioners and working in collaboration with our community organisation partners – The Clevedon Pier and Heritage Foundation and The Hastings Pier Charity – we seek to make a contribution to the understanding of the role of popular culture in relation to community development and culture-led regeneration.
The project is led by the University of Brighton and funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The project seeks to understand the function and significance of a community pier for those costal communities that have one, like the Hastings Pier in East Sussex and the Clevedon Pier in North Somerset and to develop an understanding of how seaside pleasure pier culture converges with, engenders and sometimes resists, 21st century community led approaches to the economic regeneration of British seaside resorts.
We hope that our research will contribute towards a recognition of the value of seaside pier culture as well as inform innovative ways of utilising the pier as a community space, engaging communities.
The project is still on going but findings from the ‘silent disco on the pier’ pilot of a new type of immersive audio guide developed within the project have been presented to the national organisation for Heritage Open Days.
Further, extracts from a set of oral history interviews conducted with members of the local community in Clevedon have been developed to form part of the pier’s new visitor centre’s interpretation in the form of an audio post where visitors can listen to a selection of four themed podcasts.
The team has also presented at conferences.
Dr Olu Jenzen - University of Brighton (PI)
Dr Matt Brennan - University of Edinburgh (Co-I)
Dr Nicholas Nourse - University of Bristol (Co-I)
Dr Lavinia Brydon - University of Kent (Co-I)
Mr Archie Lauchlan - University of Brighton (Co-I)
Brennan ,M., Brydon, L., Jenzen, O., Lauchlan, A., Nourse, N. (2016) The people’s pier: popular culture, heritage, and contested community spaces. Paper presented at the Changing the Future Research Landscape Connected Communities ECR Conference, University of East Anglia, 22-23 March 2016.
Jenzen, O. and Rapley, B. (2016) Silent Disco on Hastings Pier. Presentation to the national organisation for Heritage Open Days, Heritage Open Days London Fair, 14 April 2016.
Jenzen, O. (2016) The people’s pier: Regeneration, community engagement and popular culture heritage. Paper presented at the University of Brighton Annual Research Festival on 11th July 2016.
Brydon, L., and Jenzen, O. (2016) ‘Exhibition Review and Artist Interview: Pierdom by Simon Roberts, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, 3 October 2015 – 21 February 2016’ in NECSUS European Journal of Media Studies. (under review)
The Clevedon Pier and Heritage Foundation
The Hastings Pier Charity