SWANAGE Pier has been officially reopened following successful repairs to last year’s storm damage that left it on the verge of collapse.

The Swanage Pier Trust was left facing a £50,000 repair bill following the fierce storm, last March, when gale force conditions swept a structural pile out to sea.

Parts of the historic Grade II-listed structure, voted Pier of the Year in 2012, were closed on safety grounds immediately afterwards.

After launching an appeal for funds, donations from local residents started coming in – then a £39,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was secured.

On Friday local dignitaries, HLF representatives and pier staff held a ceremony to officially mark the full reopening of the structure.

Swanage Pier manager Ben Adeney said: “Swanage Pier is an important part of our heritage and the local community.

“We are committed to education and helping our visitors to learn about the structure and its restoration.”

The Swanage Pier Trust also celebrated the completion of other repairs which concluded just prior to the storm damage.

As part of the repair project a team of volunteers have been trained to document, extract and replace many of the brass plaques from the pier.

A display has also been produced to illustrate the heritage and the progress of the repair work, and an area of the site has been improved specifically for pier education purposes.

Pier trust chairman Derek Tarrant said: “We owe a huge debt of thanks to all those who helped us to get the damage repaired.”

Meanwhile, HLF regional head Nerys Watts said the pier has been of “great significance” throughout Swanage’s history.

He added: “We were therefore delighted to be able to support the Swanage Pier Trust in their work to repair the pier, ensuring that it can be preserved for and enjoyed by future generations.”