OCEAN POLLUTION - September 2015. Fishing nets are caught on the steel structure of the pier, proving that the English Channel is potentially dangerous for marine life. There is a vessel under development called SeaVax that could (in the future) patrol these shores vacuuming up plastic waste and chopping up fishing nets. The progress of such technology is entirely dependent on the availability of funding.
- Happier times. Paddle steamers (such as the PS Brighton Queen and the PS
Devonia) operated by P and A Campbell ran trips from the pier along the south coast and across the Channel to Boulogne from 1906 until the outbreak of the
War. These were resumed after the war, but the paddle steamers were gradually withdrawn from service. In 1957, the final season was operated by a motor vessel.
The Pier suffered a fire on July 30, 2014 that ripped through a large amount of the central domed building.
Sussex Police initially said that the
fire was not to be treated suspiciously, though later the police said arson was suspected.
30 July 2014 - DAILY MAIL
The main roof of the pier, built in the
East Sussex seaside town in the 1870s, has been completely destroyed, leaving only a
Eastbourne Pier - A sorry sight and a costly situation for insurers and the operators
COASTAL COMMUNITIES MINISTER: Penny Mordaunt paid a visit to Eastbourne and Hastings to see the devastation and progress, respectively. Eastbourne is a pier with serious financial problems where it appears that the limited income generated from traders cannot pay for the upkeep of a listed structure. When this happens many listed buildings collapse and disappear. Piers on the other hand seem to have a high incident rate of fires, a convenient remedy to eliminate a duty to the historic built environment.
UNCANNY - How is it that so many piers go up in flames? That is a question on the minds of many a citizen along the south coast of England. We all know that times are hard for pier operators, and that gets one thinking. Hasting, Brighton and now Eastbourne have all had pier fires. In Brighton they gave one of the piers away for almost nothing in the hope that a private group could raise the money to restore it.
SUPPORTS - Recent work on Eastbourne pier include these heavy duty fabricated steel collars and triangulation ties. The pier though is built of iron and steel that rust very quickly in the presence of the salt in seawater. In other words, the pier in on a slow burning countdown to a pile a reddish-brown powder. No matter how you look at it, eventually the pier will crumble - unless there is a proper replacement and maintenance plan. For that, you need an income that is sustainable.
STEELWORKS - A view underneath the pier reveals that a number of beams have been replaced with galvanised triangulated versions of a different design to the sawtooth originals, and that yet more will soon need replacing. The condition of the pier is not good as at September 2015.
Ant Miller, who was on the beach when the fire broke out, said it quickly spread throughout the building.
EXTINCTION LOOMS - When this happens to an operation teetering on the brink financially, it is the beginning of the end, unless some serious action is taken. It will take someone with deep pockets to restore this building. The previous owners Six Piers, applied for permission to take the structure down but then sold up before being required to put it back. Along came another owner with no money, who wanted to raise money by charging an entry fee of £2. If this trustee did not have the cash to make good without upsetting the people of Eastbourne, why purchase it. There was (and is) a charity that is prepared to do the job without inconveniencing the population.
PENNY ARCADE - The is the entrance to the Blue Room, the building that burned to the ground in July of 2014. The Fire Brigade should have brought hoses (or made sure that they could bring hoses) from the entrance of the pier to inside these buildings. Even better, we would suggest that in view of the huge number of pier fires, that a law should be introduced to ensure that piers have sprinklers installed and/or are capable of being fed from the sea over which they stand. Fraudulent insurance claims are way too tempting for pier operators who are not making sufficient profits.
SOUTHERN QUEEN - A beach launched pleasure cruiser that was once a major attraction on Eastbourne beach. The town appears to be on a slide away from being the seaside attraction it once was. It does not help that the location makes it far harder to reach by car than other popular destinations. Brighton and Hastings are much easier to drive to. The A27 and A22 need a lot of work to try and equal the score.
Airbourne, one of Eastbourne's biggest events, is due to take place on the seafront between 14 and 17 August.
Eastbourne boasts a lovely pier, which although modernised many times still retains much of its Edwardian splendour. The gift shops, sweet shops, bars and restaurants still make it a very pleasurable place to wander on a pleasant summer afternoon. At night the splendid illuminations cannot fail to impress the visitor.
Eastbourne Pier - The East Side in daylight and West side of the Pier at night
Eastbourne Pier - An old postcard depicting the ocean scene at night. For over ninety years this icon has graced the town of Eastbourne. It is part of Eastbourne folklore and a heritage to be proud of. In addition, such assets tell the story of mans progress, likes and dislikes. The fire damaged building simply must be rebuilt. A petition to replace the icon is gaining ground as of 20-11-15.
The Eastbourne Pier Company was first formed in the year of 1865. After considerable debate a site was decided on at the junction of Marine Parade and Grand Parade. A special Act: The Eastbourne Pier Act 1865. was passed through Parliament and the land under the sea was purchased from the Crown. The limits then laid down still apply today; 'The Pier must not be expanded or extended". The land at the shoreward end was leased from the Local Board at the amount of five shillings a year for 99 years and this was paid through the years, until 1988, when the local 'County Council' finally decided it was no longer feasible to collect the 25 pence charge.
Eastbourne pier under repair Sept 2015
During the mid 1990's there were only about three spans of girders actually erected. However, since that period, four more spans have been added. The Pier now runs out at a distance of five hundred feet. The Pier has a clear deck width of twenty-two feet affording comfortable seating on either side, with the whole of its length being relieved by two recesses 68 feet wide. The body of Eastbourne Pier will eventually consist of twelve bays, or spans, of girders 60 feet long, which will be supported by cast iron columns let into very strong screw piles penetrating deep into the bed of the sea at a distance of seven feet. The sea bed consists of very hard blue clay. The columns are twelve inches in diameter and 25 feet in length fixed into screw piles eight feet long. The second recesses, when finished, will form a convenient space for refreshment stalls - whilst the band, throughout the summer months, will perform to the delight of the
Camera Obscura Dome - now restored. A camera obscura (Latin: "dark chamber") is an optical device that led to photography and the photographic camera. The device consists of a box or room with a hole in one side. Light from an external scene passes through the hole and strikes a surface inside, where it is reproduced, inverted (thus upside-down), but with color and perspective preserved. The image can be projected onto paper, and can then be traced to produce a highly accurate representation. The largest camera obscura in the world is on Constitution Hill in Aberystwyth, Wales.
The first theatre was built in the year of 1888 at the seaward end. It held three to four hundred people, had a flat floor and cost £250.00 to erect. The Pier Master and a Deck Hand ran it. When it was taken down, it was carted off to Lewes in one piece and used as a cattle shed. The second theatre was built from 1899-1901. It had no pillars to obstruct the view and the balconies were built on the cantilever principle. Also, in this complex was a bar, the Camera Obscura, a Cafe and the Pier offices. There was no heating laid on until 1906, yet shows were laid on all year round. It was used every summer, except during the Second World War, until 1970. In January of that year, a Pier employee of three weeks standing, set fire to the theatre. As luck would have it, the safety curtain was down and special non-flammable paint was always used but it was so badly damaged that; it was closed down and converted into a nightclub - called the Dixieland Showbar.
The landing stage was built in the year of 1893. Before that, there was a very narrow monkey run. Three berths were built, one facing out to sea, one facing east and one west. It was a wooden structure and was extended in 1912. It was built of Greenheart and Jarrah. Greenheart comes from Guyana in South America, is very hard and is resistant to marine borers. It was widely used for dock piles and underwater work where long life and durability are necessary. Jarrah comes from Australia and is a species of Eucalyptus. It is a heavy hardwood with great strength. It is fire resistant and very durable. After the Second World War, a concrete landing stage was built with metal gratings. It is a yearly job to clear the honeycomb gratings of barnacles, which fill the holes and form a solid mass. When the waves collide, it lifts the gratings and can inflict severe damage.
In 1901, two games saloons, mid-way along the Pier were opened and in 1902 and 1903, heavy cast iron windscreens decorated with dolphins were installed. In 1925, the shoreward end was widened for the erection of a Music Pavilion seating 900 people. This was used for many years as a ballroom and later became an Amusement Arcade. There have been three different entrance buildings. The first remained until 1912 and the second was replaced in 1951, by the present kidney shaped flat roofed building. The Camera Obscura is still in the dome above the Atlantis (formerly called The Roxy) but no longer open to the public since the fire. It was run, before the outbreak of World War II, by a Mr Pelly, who also doubled as an agent for the Steamer Company.
Eastbourne Pier - (left) view looking out to sea from the starboard side, and (right) a SeaVax project member taking in the sea air.
After the war the Camera Obscura was restored. The room is circular and windowless, and the whole of the roof revolves on huge ball bearings. The silver surfaced mirror and lenses are mounted at an angle of 45 degrees in the dome. As the roof is turned, the mirror reflects the image of the scene outside and projects it onto a white emulsioned bowl about six feet across. The picture is moving, and in colour, and shows up brilliantly in the darkened room. One evening in May, 1940, an Army Officer duly arrived at the Pier with orders to blow it up so that it could not be used by the enemy for invasion purposes. The army was persuaded to wait until the show finished, but as the audience left the Pier, sappers were placing explosive charges in place. In the end, it was decided not to blow it up, but to remove a large section of the deck.
Various traditional pier theatres were built over the years but after the last one was destroyed by fire in 1970, it was replaced by a nightclub and bar which remain to this day. On the landward half of the pier stands a fish and chip kiosk, an amusement arcade and a fast food outlet. Further out, as well as the club there is a cafe, a restaurant, a glassblower, a clothes shop and an ice cream shop. The tower at the end of the pier is often used as a viewing point during the annual air show.
The first entertainment was a band playing in the bandstand on the Pier head in the early 1870's. At first, concerts were given on Sundays, but local opinion was very much against this and the Duke of Devonshire, the chief shareholder in the Company, was called upon to stop them. They were allowed, after devine service and were supposed to be of a religious nature. Finally, they were withdrawn altogether. Even as late as 1926, no kiosks were allowed to open on a Sunday. Towards the end of the 1870's, the bandstand was moved to the middle deck and was removed altogether after the Second World War. Minstrels and other concert parties including the Knuts Kamp Komedy Kompany, from the Summerdown Convalescent Camp during the 1914-18 war, performed on the bandstand. It was stated that if you were good enough to get into the Blue Boy's Concert Party - then you ultimately enjoyed a far greater convalescence than was really required.
The concert parties developed into the popular Summer shows, which became bigger and better and were regularly performed in the theatre. Previous to this, plays and musicals were witnessed there and the first talking pictures in
Eastbourne were actually shown there. The old projectors were sold after the
Second World War. Sandy Powell and his 'Starlight' company did fifteen summer seasons in a row until the disastrous fire in January 1970 closed the theatre down. In the Dixieland Showbar there were modern pop groups at weekends, Cabaret shows during the week and dancing on Wednesdays. The Ballroom was used for dancing from the time it opened until recent years, when the public taste changed from ballroom dancing to discotheques. It was called the 'Blue Room' (later called Funtasia). A large number of
automatic machines were also installed within the pier which provided alternative entertainment for
OCEAN SUITE - Was launched in July 2010, since when it has been a venue to celebrate
Weddings, Birthdays, Christenings,
Christmas. To book the Suite contact Leanne Deakin on 01323 410467
The winter package includes Arrival Drink, 3 Course Wedding Breakfast, Toasting Drink, Linen, Crockery, Cutlery, Glasswear, Front of House Waiting Staff and Events Manager, Chefs and Kitchen Support Staff, for an advertised £3,500 including VAT and room hire.
Eastbourne Pier - view from the Camera Obscura to seafront
Steamers: Paddle steamers used to call at the pier to pick
up passengers. Often two would come from different
directions and would race in to beat the other to get
the passengers and their money. The Pier master would
see to it that strong timbers were put out to protect
the pier. Cambell's Steamers ran from the pier
between the wars but many of them were lost during the
Second World War, especially at Dunkirk - and some were
even blown up by mines at sea. The Empress Queen was on
the stocks when war broke out. She was requisitioned by
the Navy and used in
Scotland as a troop carrier. She
was 1,750 tons and a screw powered vessel. She hadn't
much steerage in shallow water and would have to drift
in to berth at the pier. She was really too large for
the piers to handle and eventually Brighton, and
Eastbourne, both refused to handle her.
Eastbourne's beaches are advertised as being exceptionally well maintained - and they are compared to other beaches because the town depends on tourism for a living. These beaches pass the European standards for bating water and yet .....
That may not be as accurate as the local authority would have you believe. This picture was taken by our roving reporter during a 30 minute stroll along the shore on the 6th of September 2015. He found litter all along the beach from Fort Fun to the pier. He did not venture further to the known pollution black spots under the cliffs. Beaches are subject to a visual appraisal for debris. It is a simple matter to arrange for such inspection after the beaches have been tidied - usually specifically for such inspections.
ENTRANCE - This is an incredibly lackluster entrance. It is a jumbled collection of cheap printed plastic hoardings with no obvious theme. It smacks of random banner advertising, rather than a major attraction - and that is because the pier as it is currently operated is not a major attraction. The pier is not suitable for adaptation to a fun park, or for amusement rides and the like. It is simply too small for that. Such amusements are not in any event in keeping with the original design brief.
During 1925, at the Promenade entrance, the Music Pavilion was erected - with a capacity of 900. Evenings of concert music and Summer Shows were a feature until the introduction of Ballroom Dancing. A further change in the late 1960's announced the opening of The Blue Room Family Leisure Centre. The centre today is still a major feature of the pier's activities. In 1969, the Company and the Pier was taken over by Trusthouse Forte Leisure Ltd, a subsidiary of Trusthouse Forte Ltd, and in 1980 was registered as a private company. In 1970, the Pier Theatre was destroyed by fire. However, the remainder of the complex survived and, is still in evidence today.
After the Theatre was destroyed by fire, the owners at that time decided to build a discotheque in order to move with the times. Over one million pounds later, Eastbourne Pier saw the completion of the fabulous nightspot known as the 'Atlantis Nightclub' - which comfortably holds 870 people. The new 'Copa Bar' holds up to 300 people and also presents a commanding panorama over the English Channel. At the front of the pier, the old 'Blue Room', originally a ballroom, later became the' "Funtasia Family Entertainment Centre', boasting some of the latest technological advances in amusements - in a surrounding enhanced by the preservation of its original Victorian opulence. On the 29th May 1996, Eastbourne Pier was refurbished - recreating its Victorian splendour. Since then it has gone downhill. It needs another facelift desperately.
LANDING STAGE - Hayley is the event manager for the Miss Ocean water sports pageant that could be hosted in Eastbourne one day. The Cleaner Ocean Club Ltd (COC) team were inspecting the structure to work out how much money it would take to get this Dodo of an operation back as a going concern, should the pier ever come up for sale. The ace in the hole for the COC is that they have a major maritime exhibition planned as part of a museum annex, that will make Eastbourne Pier one of the places to visit on the south coast. We cannot reveal what the exhibition will contain, because once rival potential bidders know how to do it, they will use the COC's know how as part of their bids. The COC is more than willing to work with other bidders to forge a stronger alliance, by way of becoming Pier Partners.
In celebrating the climax of its half million pound refurbishment, the pier was lit up for the first time in it's 124-year history - an event that was accompanied by a major firework display. The pier's traditional Gift shops, Lace shop, Palmist, Glass Blower and Jewellery Maker were joined by a new pier-end Waterfront Inn with a pub-style food menu - along with Eastbourne's first Burger King." On the 1st September 1998: First Leisure Corporation Resorts Division sold to Leisure Parcs Limited. In addition to Eastbourne Pier, Leisure Parcs Ltd also own Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens, along with Southsea Pier, Llandudno Pier and all three Blackpool piers. The pier was taken over by Cueden Leisure but is now owned by Crown Entertainment Centres.
For centuries, the sea has held a certain fascination and people have been drawn to coastal resorts. The British seaside appears to have retained a special magnetism, and this may have something to do with the fascinating structures made fashionable by the Victorians. Piers were designed to be as individual as the character of the particular resort where they were placed, but the primary function of most of them was to provide an area for 'promenading' or 'taking the air'. Later they were adapted to incorporate landing stages for the increasing paddle steamer trade. At the beginning of the 20th century there were some 100 piers dotted around our coastline, but the number surviving today has dwindled to 54, and the condition of these varies enormously. During the last 10 years some have been splendidly restored, others are awaiting funds for restoration work, and some are sadly disappearing slowly with dereliction. The framework of many piers show incredible engineering skills, and this was coupled with a certain panache that the 19th century entrepreneurs had for embellishing and ornamenting their structures. These are a unique legacy, quintessentially British, and oozing with nostalgia.
A heartwarming adventure: Pirate whalers V conservationists
with a $billion dollars riding on the outcome.
LINKS & REFERENCE
Sunshine Girls: Chrissy and Hanna enjoyed this view in 2006 - with the pier still intact. It looked a lot better in 2006, but was still tame in terms of attraction pulling power.
INHERITANCE: There are stormy times ahead for Eastbourne pier. What will be left for this young lad, when in years to come he takes his children down to the seaside?
SUSSEX INDEX A - Z
CUCKMERE VALLEY - EXCEAT
Eastbourne Pier - Youtube
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