FISH is back on the menu at Southend Pier after the previous fish and chip shop was destroyed by a pier fire 14 years ago.

From this week, visitors to the world’s longest pleasure pier will be able to grab a meal from the brightly coloured beach hut at the pier head.

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Gutted - fire struck the pier in 2005

Southend Pier was hit by the huge blaze in 2005 and a popular pub serving fish and chips was among the attractions to be destroyed.

Darren Lattimer, owner of Southend Pier Fish and Chips, said: “Last year, I got the all clear to start selling cones of chips to customers from a small beach hut and it proved a real hit with visitors. But people kept telling me they wanted fish and chips.

“So I’ve worked with the pier’s management and am coming back this year with a bigger hut and better facilities to bring fish and chips back to the pier.”

Despite the council opening a new pavilion and cafe at the pier head in 2009, the frying of fish and chips on the wooden pier was banned because of the fire risk it posed. Food had to be prepared offsite and transported to the pier’s own railway line.

Thanks to the installation of a high-tech sprinkler, fire main and alarms - combined with advances in fryer technology - fire experts last year deemed it safe to get the fryers going again.

The hut will be open every day the pier is open, until the end of the visitor season - serving cod, scampi, chicken bites, sausage and a selection of pies, all served with chips.

Scott Dolling, director of culture, tourism and property at Southend Council, which owns and operates the pier, said: “Fourteen years after our beloved pier was gutted by fire, I am delighted that fish and chips are firmly back on the menu.

“A trip to Southend isn’t complete without a walk or train ride down the world famous pier and a fish and chip meal.

“Although cooking equipment has never been responsible for any of the fires in the pier’s history, we’ve done everything possible to minimise the risk.” of fire happening again in order to be able to insure the pier and keep it open to the public.

“But now we’re confident that fish and chips can be safely prepared and I couldn’t be happier to see it back in its rightful place.”

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