Sussex

Hastings Pier to reopen on Wednesday after £14.2m renovation

Hastings Pier Image copyright Simon Hookey
Image caption The pier had already been closed for several years before the fire because of safety concerns

Hastings Pier is to reopen on Wednesday, nearly six years after it was gutted in a devastating fire, its owners have announced.

The 144-year-old structure has been closed to the public for 10 years and was almost destroyed by the blaze in 2010, leaving its future in doubt.

But after being taken over by a community charity, it is finally back after a £14.2m renovation and is set to play a key role in the town's future.

First to open is the restored pavilion.

The rest of the newly built complex will follow over the coming weeks before a gala celebration marking its formal opening next month.

Image copyright Hastings Pier Charity
Image caption The public will be able to walk around the entire pier for the first time for 10 years

Hastings Borough Council estimates the attraction will generate more than £1m a year for the local economy.

The pier, one of three along the south coast built by 19th century architect Eugenius Birch, opened in 1872.

But after its heyday as a holiday resort in the mid-20th century, it fell victim to the emergence of the package holiday and cheaper foreign travel.


What the reopening will mean for Hastings

  • More than 300,000 extra visitors to Hastings per year, according to the Hastings Pier Charity
  • An extra £1.2m for the local economy (Hastings Borough Council figures)
  • Creation of 40 new jobs (Hastings Borough Council)

As the Victorian structure continued to deteriorate, the pier was forced to close amid safety fears.

And just as bids were invited to redevelop the decaying wreck, the fire broke out, destroying about 95% of the structure.

An action group has overseen its recovery, raising more than £14m - largely through lottery funding - to restore what little was left of the pier and redevelop the rest of the site.

Image copyright Hastings Pier Charity
Image caption Restoration work began at the beginning of 2014

The so-called "people's pier" is being run by a management company, owned by more than 3,000 community shareholders, who bought into the project at £100 a share.

Lawrence Bell, who runs the White Rock Hotel near the seafront, said the fire galvanised the campaign to save the building.

He said: "The burning-down saved the pier. Everybody in Hastings didn't want to lose it and now they are looking forward to using it."

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