October 5th, 2010
11:03 AM ET

Britain's 'Peerless Pier' goes up in flames

Two teens were arrested in the Tuesday fire at Hastings Pier.

Britain’s renowned Hastings Pier, a Victorian-era structure once dubbed the “Peerless Pier,” was 90 percent destroyed by fire early Tuesday.

Two local men, ages 18 and 19, were arrested on suspicion of arson after the blaze, according to the Hastings Observer.

The pier, which opened in 1872 as a holiday destination for tourists, was the work of Eugenius Birch, who designed 14 similar piers across Britain. Only seven remained before Tuesday’s fire, according to the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust.

The Hastings Pier was made of wood supported by latticed girders above cast-iron columns, something the trust calls "a lasting testament to the Victorian design genius." At its opening, the Earl of Granville proclaimed it “the Peerless Pier,” a pier without equal.

Entertainment on the pier adapted to the times. It hosted everything from dancing and music halls to slot machine gambling, rifle ranges and bowling alleys, according to the trust.

In the 1960s, iconic rock acts such as Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and The Who played concerts on the pier.

It has recently fallen on hard times and was closed in 2006. The trust was trying to reopen parts of the structure and on Monday night met to finalize its business plan, according to the Hastings Observer.

Local officials held out hope it could be rebuilt.

"We are very disappointed that this fire has taken most of Hastings Pier's upper levels with it.  The firefighters have worked heroically to try and contain the blaze but unfortunately because of the wind, the state of the pier and the danger of going on it, the fire really took hold," Hastings Borough Council President Jeremy Birch said in a statement posted on the Council’s website.

"The Council will now be looking at a new structural survey so that we can be absolutely clear on the degree of damage to the substructure.  Then we can see what the future holds for this iconic building on our seafront."

Memories and tributes to the structure poured into the “Save Hastings Pier!” Facebook page Tuesday, including one from a woman who attributed her existence to the pier.

“If it wasn't for Hastings Pier I literally wouldn't be here, my Mum first met my Dad on Hastings Pier way back whenever it was. They would meet there regularly and in the caves for dances and ended up getting married and having me,” a poster identified as Lisa Lomas wrote.

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Filed under: Architecture • Crime • Fire • History • United Kingdom
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. whatnext

    Of course, that's not America. A French trader just convicted of betting $61 billion of a bank's money, and costing it nearly $6 billion, was sentenced to 5 years, 2 suspended. If these two are convicted of burning the pier they'll probably be sent home and told to leave the other six alone.

    October 5, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. okay

    Fish and chips anyone ? Extra well-done

    October 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. okay


    October 5, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. okay

    And you automaticly says its muslims..were you never just a stupid kid with nothing else better to do than raise a little cain

    October 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Raising a little cain never involved burning down historic structures. These two little b@stards need to do some hard work cleaning up that site and helping to rebuild it. Maybe they could learn a trade and make something of themselves.

      October 5, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rush

      These two little chav's deserve to be lit up in similar fashion.

      October 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. okay

    @common sense..if you would open your eyes and pay attention you would see that i wasn't the one who said that and NO i'm not trying to incite a religiuos debate..it has nothing to do with this story....So..before you make your idiotic comments ..actually read the posts...and my comment didn't mean the kids shouldn't pay for what they or in any way condone it ..i was stating That nope.avi was automatically stating it was muislims..no where in the story does it say that..@NOcommon sense maybe you should go to the fox news board ..you might learn something..fool

    October 5, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. iyaz

    this is stupid

    October 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. okay


    October 5, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. okay


    October 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. spacedefector

    @okay – are you seriously that worked up, or do you simply not understand how these message boards work. @common sense was replying to @nope.avi's post (second post), not yours. Open your eyes!

    October 5, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. okay

    Sorry but didnt get avi 2nd post..i am on a phone..sorry if i offended you common and thanks for showing me my fault space

    October 5, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. okay

    This dam phone doesn't show me some posts for some reason..

    October 5, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. hmmmm....


    October 5, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Andy

    I hope they re-build it!

    – A

    October 6, 2010 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |