OUT IN THE FIELD: Behind the scenes at our beloved pier

Eastbourne Pier 2014 SUS-140925-113449001
Eastbourne Pier 2014 SUS-140925-113449001

I’ve been lucky enough to have had some pretty amazing career highlights in the last couple of years. A tour of the Beachy Head Lighthouse, playing on court at the Devonshire Park international tennis tournament (even if I didn’t win), scaling the scaffolding at the Congress Theatre and this week I was privileged to go behind the scenes of the fire damaged Eastbourne Pier ahead of its re-opening tomorrow. Seeing the distorted metal structure, the burnt lamps, the charred remains of the staircase in the Blue Room and the beach below is just so sad but it is also uplifting to see what has been done in such a short space of time to get the pier open for business again. Naturally, the metal structure is behind wooden screens and will be removed in the coming months but visitors will be able to use the new walkways built either side to access the businesses, cafe and nightclub further down the pier. There’s lots planned for tomorrow with plenty of fun for all the family. All we need now is for Jeremy Clarkson to volunteer to have wet sponges thrown at him, all in the name of charity, by the firefighters who he criticised for not managing to save all of the burning pier that fateful day in July.

A little further up the seafront at the Wish Tower and ambitious plans have been unveiled by Eastbourne stalwarts for a new permanent eatery and, more importantly, a memorial to those brave folk who suffered during the Second World War. The plan by the council was always for the Western View Cafe to be a temporary solution, a stop gap while detailed proposals were drawn up for a restaurant and formal memorial to bombing victims. We are now two years on and despite several submissions by interested parties, nothing appears to have come on the agenda for the site and people are getting a tad frustrated. Supporters say the new drawings don’t represent a formal development plan but are a concept aimed at keeping the future of the site in the public eye. Let’s hope it works.