Eastbourne’s camera obscura needs major repairs

Abid Gulzar on the newly repaired steps leading up to the camera obscura
Abid Gulzar on the newly repaired steps leading up to the camera obscura
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The staircase leading up to the camera obscura on Eastbourne Pier has been repaired but the camera itself is in need of major repairs.

Around £65,000 from the £2million given by the Government in the aftermath of the 2014 pier blaze was used to pay for repairing the steps leading up to the hugely popular camera obscura.

The stairs were deemed no longer fit for purpose and work involved restoring the east and west staircases leading up to the attraction to meet current standards as well as renovating the room below the camera.

But pier owner Abid Gulzar says thousands are now needed to repair the camera which gives visitors a 360 degree view of the seafront.

He said that while he hoped to get it up and running again next year so it could become a tourist attraction in its own right, he has to balance the cost with other priorities.

“Everything has a cost to it, and that includes the obscura,” said Mr Gulzar, who bought the pier for an undisclosed sum just over a year ago.

“We have been very careful over the past 12 months to balance our priorities.

“We are a business and we have to.

“Our plan was always to get the steps done first, and now we can look at the obscura.

“It has been very dangerous there until recently. I fell on the steps and spent two days in hospital.

“The engineer has now visited the site and we are currently working out what the cost will be.”

The tower at the end of the pier contains one of the earliest camera obscuras ever made and is thought to be one of only two of a kind left in the United Kingdom with the other in Edinburgh, Scotland.

A spokesperson at Eastbourne Borough Council told the Herald, “While the pier is privately owned, £65,000 was allocated from the Government grant to pay for repairs and refurbishment to allow access to the camera obscura.

“This work was extensive and included, among various other elements, replacing in their entirety staircases to the east and west of the dome that houses the obscura and the associated balustrades.The work is nearly complete.

“The camera obscura itself was last restored in the early 2000s but, regrettably, since then it has not been maintained by consecutive owners of the pier.

“The current pier owner, Sheikh Abid Gulzar, is aware of this and the repairs that are now required to bring the camera obscura back into use.”

Former Prime Minister David Cameron pledged £2 million to boost the town’s economy when he visited Eastbourne two days after the fire which destroyed a third of the iconic landmark.

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