Hastings Pier

From Historical Hastings
Hastings Pier

Construction of Hastings Pier started circa 1869; the first works commencing early in December[1] and the first pile being driven on the 18th December at the 3 am low tide. The pier opened to the public in 1872 opposite the General Infirmary (now White Rock Pavilion) in White Rock and enjoyed its prime in the 1930s, later becoming 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.

Landing Stage

The pier had a landing stage around the seaward end said to be able to accommodate up to four paddle steamers at the same time.[2]. This was originally accessed via a staircase in the centre of the pier's width, with walkways leading off to either side. At the time of opening, it was claimed that the landing stage could accept vessels at all states of the tide, with a minimum of 3-5 foot depth available[3].


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[4]

1917 Fire

The original 2,000 seater pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1917. This was eventually replaced in 1922.

Art Deco Frontage

In 1933 the old tea room and entrance front abutting onto the Parade Extension was replaced by a restaurant and Art Deco facade. This was followed in 1934 by the reconstruction of the shore-end pavilion, which resulted in the creation of theatre space. Further re-development followed in 1936 when the pier-end pavilion was rebuilt to incorporate a ballroom, lounge bar and cafe with open-air terraces on either side on the first floor - this floor being accessed via wide staircases on either side of the ballroom entrance, this final development of the 1930s requiring some reinforcement to the sub-structure at the sea end of the pier to support the additional loads[5].

Post War

Further, more minor renovations followed the pier's temporary closure and demolitions to the deck to prevent it from being used as a potential landing stage for any invasion during WWII.

Notable Artists 1960-circa 1980

Poster for the 1967 Jimi Hendrix Gig

The Pier played host in the 1960s, 70s and 80s to notable artists such as Tom Jones, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Genesis, Ten Years After, Motorhead, Status Quo, The Specials, Alvin Stardust, T-Rex and Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett played his last ever show with the band here on 20 January 1968.

A particularly memorable performance for some was that of Dexy's Midnight Runners around 1980, who left the stage after performing for around 20 minutes due to heckling from the, mainly skinhead, audience.


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 around the mid-1970s, then amusements before being sold for scrap, but turned up on Brighton Pier, re-assembled, some weeks later.

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 leading to considerable deterioration of the structures.

In February of 1980, rumours circulated that the pier was to be sold leading to the chairman of the pier company, John Lester, putting out a statement saying that this was untrue. The pier, however, was sold in April 1983[6].

1999 Closure

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. A trust took over the running of the pier from the absentee owners, Ravenclaw, with the council planning to commence compulsory purchase order proceedings in July of 2010.

2010 Fire

A fire, set deliberately in the Ballroom area, driven by strong winds, swept through the superstructure of the pier at 1 am on the 5th of October 2010[7]. Two teenagers were arrested near the pier to face charges of arson, but the prosecution did not proceed, the youths being released[8].

2020 Re-opening

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.


References & Notes