THE restoration of Swanage Pier has taken a major step forward with the completion of restoration work on its 190-year-old Marine Villas.

Dorset company Greendale Construction Limited has finished work on the Georgian villas, which now offer an exhibition space, shop and cafe with a glass extension.

Internal alterations have allowed the creation of new toilets and a commercial kitchen, while a platform lift has been installed for access to the Swanage Pier Trust offices on the first floor and the Purbeck Coast community radio station, which is due to be launched later this year.

Glass floor panels have been added to enable visitors to see the historic saltwater baths below the ground floor.

Rob Hooker, director of Greendale Construction Limited, said: “We have been delighted to work with Swanage Pier Trust and Studio Partington Architects on this exciting and historically important restoration of the Swanage Pier Marine Villas. “The newly re-opened building will bring back to life this stunning Georgian building, bringing many new visitors to the area who will not only be able to learn more about its history, but will also benefit the town’s businesses and the local economy in general.”

Ben Adeney, chief executive of Swanage Pier Trust, said: “We have been extremely fortunate to have had the benefit of Greendale Construction’s extensive experience and expertise on this project and the outcome is incredible. Marine Villas will be an amazing location for the local community and public to enjoy for generations to come.”

Swanage has had a pier since 1859, but the current pier was opened in 1897. It was acquired by the Swanage Pier Trust in 1994.

The Marine Villas originally contained then-fashionable cold saltwater baths but were later converted into a private home.

New joinery fittings and doors, a reception area, exhibition spaces and a shop have been created in the villas, while the toilet block has been altered to create disabled facilities and modernise the gents’ toilets.

Funders of the project include the Heritage Lottery Fund, Coastal Community Fund, The Fine Family Foundation, Dorset County Council, Purbeck District Council, Swanage Town Council, trusts and foundations.