Culture

Pier today, gone tomorrow: The battle to save Hastings Pier

There are now just 59 surviving piers around the UK

Nothing conveys the glory days of the seaside holiday like the great British pier and Hastings’ offering was built back in 1872. The original pavilion was razed by fire in 1917, rebuilt in the 1920s and became a popular music venue, with The Rolling Stones, The Who and Jimi Hendrix playing there. It was also the location of Syd Barrett’s last ever show with Pink Floyd.

A storm in 1990 caused extensive damage to the 278m-long Grade II structure and the pier passed from owner to owner until a fire in 2010 left it almost completely destroyed. The Hastings Pier Charity was set up to rebuild the structure, which opened again in 2016 after a £14m restoration, largely funded by lottery money. The development won the Stirling Prize for architecture in 2017 – and then the charity went into administration.

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Hastings Pier in 1912. Image: Hastings Pier Charity

The National Pier Society lists 59 surviving piers around the UK: two in Scotland, seven in Wales, four on the Isle of Wight alone and 46 around England: 41 major piers have been lost, destroyed by weather of fire.

Despite another organisation, Friends of Hastings Pier, crowdfunding almost £500,000 last month the pier was sold to businessman Sheikh Abid Gulzar for £50,000. The Friends criticised the lack of transparency, noting that the £14m investment has effectively subsidised a private venture, but they hope any development will ultimately benefit the community.

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The pier won RIBA Best British Building in 2017. Image: Hastings Pier Charity

Gulzar, who also bought Eastbourne Pier in 2015, said that he was shocked when he learned that after millions of pounds of investment, the Hastings Pier Charity had no plans in place to make the pier sustainable. In his favour he cites the success of Eastbourne Pier. Hastings Pier reopened last month but community groups are seeking a parliamentary inquiry. Literally a pier review.

Image: Hastings Pier, Getty 

Our Summer Comedy Special brings together the ‘end-end-of-the-pier’ stand-ups who still stand out. These staples of the summer seasons still populate the nation’s collective memory so we’ve brought them together to share their favourite gags and funny stories with us.

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