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Felixstowe business buys comedian's pier

PUBLISHED: 15:04 30 January 2002 | UPDATED: 15:24 03 March 2010

COMEDIAN Jim Davidson was laughing all the way to the bank today after selling his seaside pier to a Felixstowe family business.

The entertainer and TV personality - host of Big Break and the Generation Game - agreed to sell his interest in the Wellington Pier and Winter Gardens at Great Yarmouth to Family Amusements Ltd.

COMEDIAN Jim Davidson was laughing all the way to the bank today after selling his seaside pier to a Felixstowe family business.

The entertainer and TV personality – host of Big Break and the Generation Game – agreed to sell his interest in the Wellington Pier and Winter Gardens at Great Yarmouth to Family Amusements Ltd.

The company, which was founded by Stan Threadwell snr nearly 40 years ago and is now run by his sons, Stanley and Darren, already owns the Britannia Pier at the Norfolk resort.

Stanley Threadwell jnr, who lives in Felixstowe, said: "We are delighted to have been able to acquire this fine attraction and to be working with Jim Davidson to continue the fine traditions of the Wellington Pier."

He added that the company was putting together plans to completely refurbish the pier and the Winter Gardens.

Family Amusements, which has its offices in Manwick Road, Felixstowe, has not disclosed the financial arrangements of the deal for the 148-year-old landmark.

As part of the agreement, the Victorian pier will still be run by Mr Davidson and he will be appearing there during the summer season.

Mr Davidson has faced a series of financial struggles over the pier and the Winter Gardens in recent years. He took over its lease in 1995 with a grand plan to make the Wellington Theatre a top venue.

However, three years later councillors were concerned over the future of the pier and felt not enough big acts were being bought in to attract visitors.

Extensive negotiations followed, and Mr Davidson, who had a 25-year rent free lease from the borough council in Great Yarmouth, was bailed out by the local authority to the tune of £100,000 in two years.

Councillors justified the cash hand-out by saying it would enable the Mr Davidson to attract top-class acts and run a longer theatre season.

Family Amusements Ltd and its associate companies operate along the east coast, with interests in a number of resorts.

Its businesses include Pettitt's Animal Adventure Park at Reedham, Lowestoft south pier, a bowling alley in Norwich, and amusements at Southend.

The company owned Felixstowe pier from 1966 until it gave the landmark to a charitable trust – now chaired by Stan Threadwell jnr – four years ago for it to draw up a redevelopment plan.

The company still owns the amusements arcade at the entrance to the pier, a large arcade and snooker hall in Sea Road, and the Regal restaurant and gym.

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