The pier has its critics but is now an undoubted growing attraction in the East Sussex town, hosting films, theatre, music gigs and festivals, with a bar and restaurant, small shopping booths and a memories room dedicated to the pier’s lively past.
One new event that is likely to bring out the crowds is on Saturday and Sunday, July 8-9, when 70 classic cars will drive onto the large open space at the pier end for the Classic Car Boot Sale.
Organised by Hemingway Design with Hastings council, the car boot will offer local art, upcycled pieces, vinyl, vintage fashion and homewares and ephemera sold from and around classic cars, plus food served from vintage trucks, and a double-decker DJ bus.
Hemingway Design runs four or five classic car boots around the country, including Glasgow and Morecambe, with the largest being the biannual event at King’s Cross in London in September.
Hastings Pier Factfile
- Hastings was one of 14 piers built by master pier engineer Eugenius Birch (1818-94) and opened in 1872.
- A true pleasure pier devoted to entertainment, 24,000 visitors paid 2d to stroll along it during its first week. The Oriental-style pavilion put on music-hall shows featuring Marie Lloyd among others and attractions included open-air dancing and animated pictures.
- All this ceased during the Second World War when the army took over the pier and a big chunk of it was removed to prevent enemy landings.
- It reopened in 1946 and regained its pre-war popularity with amusement arcades, shops, arcades, night swimming and even a zoo. In 1964 the Rolling Stones played to a capacity crowd in the pier’s ballroom.
- By the 1980s the pier was suffering from years of storm damage as successive owners attempted to find grants to repair it. Following the pier’s destruction by fire in 2010, the local council compulsorily purchased the pier and it has risen from the ashes.