Great news here in Hastings when the Heritage Lottery Fund this week agreed an award of £11.4 million to the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust towards the estimated £13.9 million needed to restore our fire wrecked pier.This much loved landmark was opened in 1872 and designed by Eugenius Birch (also responsible for Eastbourne pier and Brighton's West Pier). Some 280 metres long, the pier underwent a variety of changes over the years and in the 1960s and 1970s played host to many top music acts including Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones.
Recent years saw lack of maintenance by the private owners and the pier was declared unsafe in 2008 and closed to the public. That is why, though having photographed it many times, I have never actually walked along the pier myself.
The 5th October 2010 saw a devastating fire (thought to be arson) which destroyed nearly all of the wooden upper structure and decking of the pier. As I posted at the time, I was able to get down there in the afternoon when it was still smouldering and being hosed down by the fire service. It certainly was a sad sight to see it in ruins - an event that gained coverage across the National press and Television news in the UK.
It has been a forlorn looking landmark since then but finally Hastings Borough Council have succeeded with a Compulsory Purchase Order against the owners and are handing the pier over to the charitable trust.
There is still some money to raise but, all being well, work should start in Spring 2013 with a re-opening in late 2014. It's not going to be just a rebuild of what was there but a whole new design utilising the original 1872 metal substructure -which survived the fire.
I'm greatly looking forward to watching and photographing the work in progress and, hopefully, taking my first ever walk on the pier in 2014. Regards, David.