After being wrecked by fire in 2010, Hastings pier is set to re-open next month
When Hastings pier was 95 per cent destroyed in a suspected arson attack in October 2010, few expected the smouldering ruins to ever be resurrected. But thanks to a £14m scheme, the Grade II-listed Victorian landmark is set to re-open “no later than the middle of April” (according to its website).
Coinciding with the 950th anniversary of a local battle, the new Hastings pier will have funfairs, open-air cinema, farmers’ market and music. Although most funds came from a £11.4m Heritage Lottery Fund grant, a community shares scheme also raised funds from more than 3,000 people, including many local businesses, for the company that will operate the pier.
Hastings pier opened in 1872 but first closed in 2006 due to concerns over its safety. The 2010 blaze destroyed 95 per cent of the pier’s structure with YouTube footage showing it engulfed in flames several metres high. Two teenagers were arrested for arson, but the Crown Prosecution Service said there wasn’t enough evidence to bring charges.
The regeneration of Hastings pier was boosted by the Heritage Lottery Fund grant in 2012, but storms two years later damaged the structure, delaying the work.
“Until we took ownership of [Hastings pier] in August 2013, nobody had been looking after it,” said Simon Opie of Hastings Pier Charity. “It could have been just left there, a sorry sight and a blight on the seafront. But we’ve proved that when a community comes together, with good planning, you can make things happen.”
“People love the sheer daring of piers, building a platform over the sea and braving the elements,” he added. “Just walking out on a pier can be like that kick you get from a roller coaster. It’s slightly thrilling, walking a quarter of a mile out to sea and looking back… Piers dominate their local environment and people have an emotional connection to them.”
A gala celebration of the new pier is planned for Saturday 21 May, while a summer circus will be on the pier from 5 August onwards.