Hastings Pier

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Coordinates: 50°51′08″N 0°34′22″E / 50.852202°N 0.572645°E / 50.852202; 0.572645

Hastings Pier
Hastings Pier geograph-5972693-by-N-Chadwick.jpg
Image taken in June 2018
TypePleasure Pier
LocaleHastings, East Sussex
DesignEugenius Birch
Redevelopment by dRMM
OwnerAbid Gulzar
Total length910 feet (280 m)
Width45 feet (14 m) to 190 feet (58 m)
Opening date5 August 1872

Hastings Pier is a public pleasure pier in Hastings, East Sussex, England. Built in 1872 and enjoying its prime in the 1930s, it became a popular music venue in the 1960s. The structure suffered major storm damage in 1990, and was closed to the public for a time before closing completely in 2008,[1] and 95% destroyed by a fire in 2010. Hastings Pier Charity oversaw a rebuilding project, with the pier reopening on 27 April 2016.[2] The redeveloped pier won the 2017 Stirling Prize for architecture.[3].

Hastings Pier after the 2016 redevelopment

The charity went into administration in 2017 and the pier was sold to a private buyer in 2018. The pier re-opened on 1 April 2019.


An early view of the pier

The pier was opened on 5 August 1872 by the then Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, Earl of Granville. It was designed by Eugenius Birch, who also designed the West Pier, Brighton and Eastbourne Pier, both west of Hastings, and it is often seen as an innovative design considering the technical constraints of the late Victorian period. The pier was "constructed by a local company", while the contractors were the firm R Laidlaw & Son, Glasgow.[4] 600 guests sat down to lunch on the pier immediately following the opening ceremony, and included the local member of parliament Thomas Brassey and Egyptian princes.

The original 2,000 seater pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1917.[5] This was eventually replaced in 1922 and played host in the 1960s and the 1970s to notable artists such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Genesis, Tom Jones, Ten Years After, and Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett played his last ever show with the band here on 20 January 1968.

In 1966 the Hastings Embroidery was displayed in the white domed structure for the 900th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Hastings.

During the 1930s, the pavilion extension buildings received an art deco facelift and a theatre rebuild. This was to be its prime era. More renovation followed its temporary closure during WWII and in 1966 it housed the Hastings Embroidery during the 900th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Hastings.

Elements of the pier became listed in 1976 and subsequently changed hands on a regular basis with erratic structural renovation input from its subsequent owners.

In 1990 it suffered considerable storm damage, requiring a £1 million refurbishment. In 1996 it was put up for sale, but the future of the pier was put in grave doubt as interested buyers were reluctant to invest due to the serious amount of capital needed to improve the unstable structural supports. Financial losses led to the appointment of liquidators Leonard Curtis who closed the pier in 1999.[6]

The pier was eventually sold in 2000 and reopened under new ownership in 2002. It was passed to Ravenclaw, an offshore enterprise in 2004.

Pier access withdrawn[edit]

Hastings Pier in 2005

In July 2006, Hastings Borough Council, upon discovering that part of the pier's structure was unsafe, promptly closed the pier to the general public.[7] Protracted legal wranglings between the pier's owners, Ravenclaw Investments, and Hastings Borough Council followed. Finally, Stylus Sports, a pier tenant who operated the gaming attractions, in conjunction with Hastings Borough Council, funded much of the needed £300,000 of repairs, which enabled the court order closing the pier to be lifted. This financial infusion enabled the majority of the pier to reopen on 4 July 2007.[needs update]

However, on 12 March 2008 the local newspaper Hastings Observer reported to concerned readers how storm damage had caused considerable damage and that two support columns were in imminent danger of collapse. To prevent public access and any resulting injuries, stronger barriers restricting public access to the damaged areas were put in place and repairs to the bracing fixtures prevented any disaster from occurring. Nevertheless, when the remaining major tenant closed for business, access to the pier was restricted. The failure of the owners to respond to appeals from the Council to repair the areas and the continual deterioration of the structure led to its long-term future becoming uncertain.

Efforts to save the pier[edit]

The Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust[8] was established to raise funds through various means to renovate the pier, ranging from community fund raising (cup collecting, raffles and quiz nights etc.) to larger scale grant applications. Their long-term goal is to acquire the pier and form a not-for-profit company to renovate, reopen and revitalise the pier as a community owned asset. The Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust (HPWRT) strongly oppose to any decision to demolish and clear the site of the structure, which would cost an estimated £4 million of local money.

A protest march was held on 17 October 2009 as part of a campaign to save the pier.[9]

In November 2009 the owners of The Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare examined the possibility of purchasing Hastings Pier and restoring it to its former glory. However, after a structural assessment it was estimated that repairs would cost over £24 million, with a similar amount needed to restore attractions at the pier head. The structural engineers dismally commented that the pier was "one good storm away from collapse".[10]

October 2010 fire[edit]

Hastings Pier after the 2010 fire

The pier suffered extensive fire damage during the early hours of Tuesday 5 October 2010. Although the fire brigade arrived shortly after being alerted (at approximately 0100 BST), the fire had quickly spread causing severe damage to the wooden buildings. Estimates indicate that 95% of the superstructure of the pier was subsequently destroyed in the fire.[11] Two people were arrested on suspicion of arson,[12] but, despite numerous bail hearings, no charges were made.[13]

Redevelopment plans[edit]

Prior to its destruction in a fire on 5 October 2010, Hastings Pier was deemed to be the pier most at risk in the UK by the National Piers Society. Despite funding set-backs in 2009, such as the withdrawal of Capacity Builders grants,[14] the Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust had made efforts to revitalise the pier. On 1 February 2010, Hastings Borough Council finally resolved to develop an approval in principle to compulsorily purchase the Pier on the agreement of a business plan and suitable funding source.[15] The decision followed a study which showed the pier could be made safe for public use for £3million. On 16 March, Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust successfully obtained a £75k Feasibility grant to fund the completion of necessary engineering surveys and architectural plans for their overall business plan of securing capital funding.[16]

Following the fire in October that year, an English Heritage assessment confirmed that the previously noted heritage value of the substructure remained so the Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust submitted an application for £8.75m to the Heritage Lottery at the end of November 2010 to restore the substructure of the Pier and renovate the remaining building.[17] Heritage Lottery trustees visited the project and pier on 16 March 2011 to assess the application.[18] Hastings Borough Council were granted £100k toward emergency works by English Heritage in April 2011. This funding was intended to pay for structural supports to be applied to the central section which was weakened by the loss of the deck in the fire.

In May 2011, it was announced by Heritage Lottery Fund that a Stage 1 development grant, releasing the first £357,400 of a total £8.75m grant was awarded by Heritage Lottery.[19] This development grant was intended to complete the business plan, develop the heritage learning and activities programme and raise the £1m funding match. In the meantime, Hastings Borough Council intended to progress the CPO. The remaining award (Stage 2) was subject to the funding match being raised, the authorisation of the business plan by the HLF and the successful completion of the CPO.[20]

The redevelopment of the pier was designed by the architectural practice dRMM.[3] The charity went into administration in 2017 and the pier was sold to a private buyer in 2018.

Pier re-opening[edit]

In August 2013, a compulsory purchase order was enacted and the pier was returned to local ownership which enabled a £14m renovation project to go forward. The work was completed in early 2016,[21] and the pier was reopened to the public on 27 April 2016.[2]

Since re-opening, the pier has won the National Piers Society's "Pier of the Year" award in 2017, with Worthing Pier and Llandudno Pier in second and third place.

The redeveloped pier was awarded the 2017 Stirling Prize for architecture, considered to be the most prestigious architecture award in the United Kingdom.[3]

The organisation running the pier went into administration in November 2017, leaving the future of the pier uncertain.[22]

Hastings Pier was purchased on 15 June 2018 by controversial local businessman Abid Gulzar,[23] who also owns Eastbourne Pier.[24] The pier re-opened on 25 July 2018.[25] The pier closed in December 2018 and re-opened on 1 April 2019.

On film[edit]

The pier has featured in many films and TV series, such as The Dark Man (1951), ITV wartime drama Foyle's War, Kingmaker's "Queen Jane" music video (1993), Ash's "Tracers" music video (2009), the film Byzantium (2012) and the British television series ‘’Giri/Haji’’ (2019). In 2015 a feature-length documentary about Hastings Pier (titled Re: A Pier) was completed by filmmaker Archie Lauchlan.[26]



  1. ^ "Hastings Pier Survey and Evaluation". White Rock, East Sussex, UK: Ramboll UK Limited. 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Hastings Pier reopening delayed by a year". Sussex: BBC. 16 April 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Wainwright, Oliver. "Walking tall: Hastings pier wins the Stirling architecture prize". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  4. ^ 'The new pier at Hastings, Illustrated London News, 10 August 1872, p. 126.
  5. ^ Bainbridge, Cyril (1986). Pavilions on the Sea - A history of the seaside pleasure pier. Robert Hale, London. p. 197. ISBN 0-7090-2790-7.
  6. ^ Hastings pier forced into liquidation Archived 9 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Accountancy Age, 10 November 1999
  7. ^ "Pier hopes dashed". Hastings & St. Leonards Observer. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  8. ^ "HPWRT". Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust. Archived from the original on 23 September 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  9. ^ "Pier March video". Hastings Times. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  10. ^ "Grand Pier owners decide against attraction revamp". Weston, Worle and Somerset Mercury. 18 November 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Hastings Pier largely destroyed in huge fire". BBC. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  12. ^ "Two held after fire destroys Hastings pier". Reuters. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  13. ^ "Debris still falling from Hastings Pier after fire". BBC. 12 October 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  14. ^ "Row over third sector code beach" (PDF). Regeneration & Renewal. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  15. ^ "Hastings Borough Council Show Support". Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust. Archived from the original on 14 March 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  16. ^ "BBC South East News Report". YouTube. October 2010.
  17. ^ "Hastings Pier Heritage Lottery Application". Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust. Archived from the original on 23 September 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  18. ^ "Video Prepared for the Heritage Lottery Trustee Visit". Domestic Science.
  19. ^ "Buildings, Botany and Boats!". Heritage Lottery Fund. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011.
  20. ^ "Heritage Lottery Fund Says Yes to "The People's Pier"" (PDF). Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2011.
  21. ^ "Hastings Pier Charity". People's Pier. Archived from the original on 3 September 2013.
  22. ^ "Hastings Pier Charity in Administration". Hastings Observer. Hastings. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  23. ^ Sullivan, Hugh (24 August 2018). "Sheikh Gulzar: The debt gets personal". Hastings Independent Press.
  24. ^ "Hastings Pier sold to Eastbourne Pier owner Sheikh Abid Gulzar". BBC News. 16 June 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  25. ^ Wynn-Davies, Stephen (26 June 2018). "Pictures: Hastings Pier reopens to the public". Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  26. ^ "Team's feature-length film on history of Hastings Pier". Hastings and St Leonards Observer. 4 April 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2019.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Newport Street Gallery, Vauxhall
Royal Institute of British Architects
Stirling Prize

Succeeded by
Bloomberg London
Preceded by
Cleethorpes Pier
National Piers Society
Pier of the Year

Succeeded by
South Parade Pier, Southsea