I regret I did not write this letter last year, when I last visited Eastbourne. At that time, I noticed how shamefully the town neglected its most beautiful and historic buildings.
Now, one of those buildings has been damaged – perhaps irreparably – by fire. And I am wondering whether this tragedy could have been avoided if greater care had been taken of the town’s Victorian pier.
I have lived in, or been a frequent visitor to, Eastbourne for more than 70 years. My grandmother, Beatrice Ellis, a lifelong resident, often remarked that “there’s no place like Eastbourne.” She would have been devastated by what has happened to the pier. But, perhaps like me, she would not have been surprised.
On my most recent visit to Eastbourne in the summer of 2013, I did what I like to do most – spend a lot of time on the seafront. I was struck by the neglect of the town’s three most historic structures – the pier, the Wish Tower and the Redoubt. The pier looked awful – peeling paint, rust, rotting wood, a general air of neglect. The Wish Tower and Redoubt had been hideously deformed by modern additions. I felt this was shameful. What must visitors think? Can’t the town be more respectful of its heritage? I hope the pier can be saved, and restored as much as possible to the way it was. Even more, I hope the borough council will learn a lesson from this.