Sussex

Restored 'phoenix' Hastings Pier wins national award

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Media captionThe reopening of the pier triggered a wave of nostalgia

A 19th Century pier that was almost destroyed by fire has been voted Pier of the Year.

Hastings beat off Worthing in the competition judged by the National Piers Society (NPS), with Llandudno pier taking third place.

The 145-year-old structure was hit by a devastating fire in 2010 but it reopened last year following a £14.2m restoration project.

Gavin Henderson, NPS president, said the pier was "truly a phoenix".

Maria Ludkin, chair of Hastings Pier Trustees, said: "We are absolutely delighted that our wonderful community-owned pier has won this prestigious award."

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

The pier, built by engineer Eugenius Birch, was prosperous during the mid-20th Century but it went into decline as holidaymakers travelled further afield.

It was closed for safety reasons in 2006 because it had fallen into disrepair, before fire tore through the structure four years later.

Work to redevelop it began after the council compulsorily purchased it from its owners in 2012.

The redevelopment took more than two years and saw the pier's former pavilion turned into a restaurant and bar.

The structure is now owned by the Hastings Pier Charity and 3,000 shareholders who bought into the project at £100 a share.

Image caption The pier was decked out in flags for its official opening

Image caption A lottery grant and a community campaign helped to bring the pier back to life

Hastings Pier's 'golden age'

Built in 1872, the pier was "the first true pleasure pier, devoted to entertainment", according to the National Piers Society.

In the 19th Century, it featured an Oriental-style pavilion, appearances by leading music hall stars, open air dancing and a shooting range.

The 1930s saw new buildings added including a camera obscura.

Taken over by the Army in the 1940s, the pier had a 75ft section removed to prevent enemy landings during World War Two.

In the 1960s, the ballroom saw performances by The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Jimi Hendrix Experience.


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Media captionThe final piece of decking on the restored pier was screwed into place by Suggs from Madness

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