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Hastings Pier. 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, 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 original 2,000 seater pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1917. 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.
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 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.
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.
The pier was eventually sold in 2000 and reopened under new ownership in 2002. It was passed to Ravenclaw, an offshore enterprise in 2004.
On this day 13th September in 1883 there was a great Liberal demonstration in the Cricket Ground on. Thousands of people attended throughout the afternoon, enjoying much music from various bandstands, fairground amusements and a range of food. The culmination came in the evening when all the leading Liberal dignitary in the area sat on the large platform that had been erected to present an illuminated address to John Howell, the local builder who had done so much to promote the Liberals. He was then President of the Hastings Liberal Association. Mr Howell said that he had become involved with the Liberals 40 years before, when he was a poor apprentice in his teens, in the anti-Corn Law campaign.
On 22 November 1883 there was a bye-election in the Holy Trinity ward, and Mr Howell was elected. John Howell & Son, known as John Howell, was the leading building and engineering company in Hastings, Sussex in the 1860s. Its founder, John Howell Senior (c1825−1893) engineered churches and other public buildings in the area to the designs of innovative architects, including Holy Trinity Church in 1860 to the design of Samuel Sanders Teulon, and St Johns Church, Hollington in 1865−1868 for Edward Alexander Wyon. John Howell Junior (1851−1903) constructed the old Gothic Revival Hastings Grammar School building to the design of Jeffery and Skiller in 1883. Howell Senior was a campaigner on behalf of the Liberal Party and held a prominent political position in the town from the 1860s to the 1880s. He came to Hastings as a fatherless boy, but was the Mayor of Hastings by 1878.
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