National Piers Society
History of Hastings Pier

Work on the 910 foot pier, designed by Eugenius Birch, began in December 1869 and it was opened on the first ever August Bank Holiday (1872). It had cost £23,250 and incorporated a very handsome 2000-seat pavilion at the seaward end. One of the tollhouses was damaged by a storm in 1877 but was repaired.

In 1885, a £2,000 landing stage was built. In 1910/11, a small building housing a shooting gallery, 'animated pictures' and slot machines was added, followed in 1912, by a rifle range/bowling alley. This shoreward end of the pier, known as the 'parade extension', was sold to the council in 1913 to finance a new arcade, shops and a tea-room.

The pavilion was destroyed by fire on 15th July 1917 but was replaced in 1922, albeit in a less elaborate style. A shoreward end pavilion was built in 1926. An Art Deco facade was added in the 1930s. The pier's seaward end was damaged by storms in 1938, closing the pavilion and costing £22,000 to repair. The pier was sectioned during World War Two and was taken over by the armed forces. It suffered some bomb damage during the conflict. It reopened in 1946. The West View and East View solaria were added in 1951 and 1956 respectively.

In 1966, Hastings Council built the 'Triodome' on the parade extension to house a special embroidery marking the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. The extension and Triodome were sold to the pier company in 1968. In 1969, the Triodome was converted into an amusement arcade and the bandstand shelters became kiosks and shops.

In 1993, Humberglow Ltd paid £196,000 to acquire the Hastings Pier Company. In the same year, storms caused £100,000 of damage. An application for millenium funding was unsuccessful and the pier was put up for sale in 1996.

In June 2006, following the serving of a closure notice by Hastings Council, the pier was closed. However, in 2007, Stylus Sports paid for repair work to be carried out beneath the former theatre. The central section of the pier was then re-opened in July 2007, only to be temporarily closed again a few weeks later followiing a storm in which the pier was struck by lightning, causing the emergency evacuation of visitors.

A detailed Structural & Heritage Value Appraisal was carried out for Hastings Borough Council by Gifford Structural Engineers in 2007. A copy of this is accessible via the Pier Weblinks on this page.

Little was done to protect and preserve the pier structure and in March 2008, further damage was caused to the seaward end of the pier during strong winds and very rough seas. In September 2008, the Hasting Pier and White Rock Trust , a local campaign group, submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the rescue and redevelopment of the pier, but complications arose following the unearthing of the legislation from 1985 which prevented the sale of the pier.

Efforts continued, however, led primarily by the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust to try and return the pier to its former glory and in July 2010, Hastings Borough Council finally agreed to pursue a compulsory purchase order for the town’s Victorian pier. If successful the council would then hand over the keys to Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust, which would begin looking for funding for structural repairs and refurbishment.

But then, in the early hours of October 5th 2010, a devastating fire swept through the pier, destroying most of the super-structure. Two men were subsequently arrested on suspicion of arson and bailed pending further action. However, the case dragged on until in April 2011, much to the disgust of local people, the CPS decided not to charge anyone due to lack of evidence.

The destruction of most of the pier was clearly an immense tragedy for the people of Hastings and particularly the members of the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust who had fought so hard to have the pier restored and brought back into public use.

Throughout 2011, the local Council employed experts to assess the full extent of the damage to the pier and attempted to get the owners, the Panamanian registered Ravenclaw, to carry out repair work to stabilise the structure. When this proved unsuccessful, the Council began steps to compulsorily purchase the pier, the intention being to work with the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust to restore the pier to its former glory. 

In October 2011,Simon Opie, who had worked successfully improving Euro Disney in Paris and set up Madame Tussaud attractions around the world was appointed as the Chief Executive of the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust.

The following month, Hastings Borough Council agreed to serve a formal repairs notice on the pier owner, Ravenclaw, giving them 2 months months to start repair work or they would seek a compulsory purchase order to save the pier. But by March 2012, Ravenclaw had still failed to respond to the Council's approaches and so the Council's solicitors issued a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). The order gave anyone the right to make an objection to the Secretary of State for Culture within 28 days. In May 2012, the Council announced that only one objection to the CPO had been received, that this was not from Ravenclaw, and that they were consequently "still very much working towards handing the pier over to the Hastings Pier Charity." The charity's administrators, Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust, said they were hopeful they would own the pier by the end of the year.

Also in May 2012, the first plans of the restored pier were published and made available on the website of the Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust, now Hastings Pier Charity.

Then eventually in November 2012 it was announced that the Heritage Lottery Fund had awarded Hastings Pier a grant of £11.4 million towards the total project cost of £13.9 million for the rescue and restoration of the Pier.

In August 2013, ownership of the Grade II-listed structure was passed to Hastings Pier Charity, the organisation which was set up to manage the multi-million restoration project, enabling work on the project to commence for an estimated completion in spring 2015. A spokeswoman from Hastings Borough Council said most of the £14m came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with significant additional contributions coming from the Coastal Communities Fund, Community Assets Fund, Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council.

In October 2013, a Community Shares scheme was launched to sell shares in the pier at £100 each to provide further funds towards the pier's refurbishment. By the end of the month, £100,000 had already been raised towards the target of £500,000. Simon Opie, CEO of the Hastings Pier Charity, said the shares were not just about the money but also to continue interest in the pier after its restoration.

Also in October, students from the University of Brighton in Hastings took part in a competition sponsored by the Hastings Pier Charity to create a short film exploring the heritage of the pier.

October also saw the announcement of a new volunteer scheme for Hastings Pier Charity’s new visitor space, The Hub, scheduled to open in the top part of the seafront White Rock Baths in January 2014.

In November 2013, the Hastings Pier Charity took the unusual step of leaving Charity Commission regulation and moving to become an exempt charitable "bencom", (a society for the benefit of the community) registered under Industrial & Provident Societies (I&PS) legislation.

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  Pier Statistics
 
Length Opened Status Owner
910ft (278m) 1872 Grade II Hastings Pier Charity

  Pier News
Aug 2014 - Questions over Eastbourne pier fire cash
May 2014 - Council loses pier appeal case
May 2014 - Council to learn pier fate
Apr 2014 - Pier shares sale hits £500k target
Apr 2014 - Pier shares deadline approaching
Apr 2014 - Battle firm helping to restore fire-hit pier
Apr 2014 - Pier supporters dig deep for rebuild
Mar 2014 - Pier aiming to re-open in Spring 2015
Mar 2014 - Pier reconstruction: First decking planks laid
Feb 2014 - Hotel invests £10000 in the pier's future
Dec 2013 - Pier shares deadline is extended
Dec 2013 - £13m Pier restoration gathers pace
Dec 2013 - First stage of pier restoration begins
Nov 2013 - Pier charity changes its status
See Pier Newslinks Archive for earlier stories
Pier Gallery
Aftermath of Hastings Pier Blaze (courtesy Paul Kelly)
Flickr gallery of images of Hastings Pier
Simplon Postcards of Hastings Pier
Hastings Observer Bygones Pier Memories
Geograph search for images of Hastings Pier
Google search for all images of Hastings Pier
   
Pier Movies  
YouTube video of Keith & Lily Foster's song 'On The Pier'
Chris Foote Woods YouTube video of Hastings Pier
YouTube video of Hastings Pier and Beach
Pier Weblinks
Hastings Pier Charity
Hastings Chronicle Pier History
Hastings Chronicle Pier Timeline 1860-1909
Online petition to save Hastings Pier
Dec 2007 Structural & Heritage Appraisal and Council Report
   

Pier Webcam
Hasting Pier Charity Webcam
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