Hastings Pier restoration gets under way

It's great to see restoration work on the Pier getting started.
     For one of her earliest posts, back in February 2012, Battleaxe wrote an impassioned piece about the apparent lack of progress on the pier project, and got into hot water for it. I've scarcely dared mention it since. Since then, things have happened. The main grant of lottery money was secured, a community share issue has been launched and work has now started.
This is what we like to see!
     This morning, we took advantage of a brief dry interlude to view progress on the Pier, and then visit the new Pier Hub which has just opened in the old White Rock Baths building just along the sea-front.  It might have been dry, but it was still virtuous of us, the wind blowing along the sea was just savage.
     So, where are we now?
     Firstly, the share issue, which was originally intended to raise £500,000. (We have bought our shares). According to the relevant website, the initiative has so far raised nearly £225,000 - about 45% of the total. This is encouraging, and the minimum issue target of £200,000 has been exceeded, which means that the share issue will be taken up. However, the rest of the money needs to be raised by April, so more shares need to be sold quite quickly.
     What does Battleaxe have to say about this? For many people in Hastings, the minimum investment of £100 is a lot of money, particularly in the current economic climate. I wonder why the minimum was set at this level? I feel sure there would be an increased take-up if the minimum was set at £50, or even £25. I have talked to many people, for example in the WI, and is clear that many people would like shares but cannot afford them. If there is some legal requirement that £100, equating to 100 shares, has to be the minimum stake, maybe more could be done to help people to club together to buy shares. The share offer document refers people who may be having trouble raising £100 to the Hastings Pier Charity website, but I can find nothing about it there.
      So, what does the project look like on the ground now? One of my original gripes was about lack of
 publicity and explanatory notices on the pier gates. This has now been rectified, with plenty of big notices and nice graphics.
Men at work....
 Better still, you can actually peer through the railings and see men at work, now apparently renewing the steel supports for the wooden decking. I do know they have been at work underneath the pier as well, restoring the underpinning supports. Clearly, the current terrible weather must be a worry. The tide was very high today, and further storm surges and gales are forecast for the weekend. Those Victorian pier builders knew their stuff - putting in just the right number of supports to enable their piers to survive the worst weather, but I also understand that even a small number of missing supports can fatally weaken the structure. Lets hope our pier copes OK.
     Having had our good peer at the pier, we visited the new visitor Hub. It seems very pleasant, light, warm and welcoming, with kids things, a model of the new pier, notice boards, a video, a pleasant gentleman to talk to us, and even things for dogs. However, as yet there are no signs! One small 'A' Board on the sea side of the building, where the door is, but nothing anywhere else. Lets have flags on the flag poles (OK they'd blow away right now), murals or bright big signs on the street side.
Pier Hub - the front....
.....and the street side - perhaps a little anonymous?
     Inside, Battleaxe would like to see more content. How about fundraising/knick-knacky stuff on sale? Lets have some Pier stickers, pencils, key-rings, bags.  Let's have reproduction historic pier postcards, reproductions of 'Hendrix on the Pier' posters etc. (I've got a tee shirt with that poster on - they must be obtainable). We could have more books about piers to look at, and more on sale. I know the thing has only just opened and it is the worst possible time of year, but later on, it would be nice to see some outside tables etc. Could they sell ice creams?
    Anyway, it's all encouraging.
    Finally, there is a BBC1 TV programme featuring Hastings Pier, 'The End of the Pier Story'  at 19.30 on Friday 7 February.
Inside the Hub



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