Hastings Pier was built in 1872 opposite the General Infirmary (now White Rock Pavilion) in White Rock 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, and 95% destroyed by a fire in 2010. Hastings Pier Charity oversaw a rebuilding project, with the pier reopening on 27 April 2016 The redeveloped pier won the 2017 Stirling Prize for architecture.
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. 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 ballroom that was situated at the end of the pier had a capacity of 2000 people.
Shooting Gallery & Joy Wheel
In 1910, a pavilion for shooting and a joy-wheel were installed on the main promenade section of the pier
The original 2,000 seater pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1917. This was eventually replaced in 1922.
Art Deco Frontage
During the 1930s, the pavilion extension buildings received an art deco facelift and a theatre rebuild. This was to be its prime era.
Post War and Listing
More renovation followed its temporary closure during WWII and it housed the famous Hastings embroidery during the 1066 celebrations in 1966. 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.
The Pier played host in the 1960s and the 1970s to notable artists such as Tom Jones, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Genesis, Ten Years After, Motorhead, Status Quo and Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett played his last ever show with the band here on 20 January 1968.
The Triodome, a white domed structure was placed upon the pier in 1966 where the bandstand was originally situated and utilised initially to display the Hastings Embroidery for the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. It later housed a mini-zoo, then amusements before being sold for scrap, but turned up on Brighton Pier, re-assembled, some weeks later.
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.
New owners re-opened the pier soon after, however it was not found viable and, as a result, the pier closed again in 2008.
During July of 2020, the pier re-opened post Covid 19 with an announcement that a new company was taking over management of events; Music First Events. There was a delayed re-opening ceremony where the Mayor cut the ribbon to formally open the venue on the 6th of July 2020.
- Ion Castro - Looking Back Column
- British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 31 December 1910 Pg. 0007