On the evening of August 4, 1973, during a show by The Comedians at the Ocean Theatre on Clacton Pier, the pier’s most popular attraction caught fire.

Steel Stella, a rollercoaster built on the pier in 1937, was loved by many, but also thought of as terrifying and noisy by others.

A crowd of around 800 people were oblivious to the fire until a white-coated pier worker ran on the stage, grabbed a microphone and said: “Don’t panic, the pier is on fire”.

Len Abbot, the comedy show’s pianist assumed it was a joke, as did the crowd.

Comedian Russ Abbott soon realised it wasn’t and calmly took control of the situation.

Jim Bowen, another one of the performers at the show’ helped the usherettes to show people out of the theatre and away from the pier.

There was no sign of panic, in what could have been a disaster if things were dealt with differently.

When it caught fire, pier staff had to get people off the ride and several workers climbed on the roof of the Ocean Theatre to dampen it down as a lot of sparks and hot ash were blowing around in the strong wind.

The prompt action of the pier staff prevented what might have been more serious.

Pier manager at the time, Ken Ashdown, ran up the catwalk of the 50ft high rollercoaster in an attempt to contain the fire.

Pier staff formed a bucket chain from the Dolphinarium to the fire.

Their fire fighting efforts were seen as play time by the dolphins as they kept grabbing the empty buckets and swimming off with them.

Firemen arrived quickly on the scene but had to keep their fire engines in the car park at the front of the pier amidst fears of falling through the pier boards.

The cause of the fire was put down as an electrical fault in the hut at the top of the ride.

In November of that year, workmen dismantled the rollercoaster and the wood was put at the entrance to the pier for the public to use as firewood.

That was the end of Steel Stella, Clacton’s most famous ride.

News broke last month that the replacement for the Steel Stella rollercoaster, Stella’s Revenge, would be removed to make way for a new ride for the coming season.

Stella’s Revenge was introduced in 2011 and was brought in to bring back the glory days of Clacton Pier.