We were fortunate last week to meet Sheikh Abid Gulzar on the beautiful Eugenius Birch Grade II listed Eastbourne Pier.
He saw my husband and I with our two grandchildren in the Victorian tea rooms and invited us to see the works in progress after I expressed an interest in his purchase of it and the work already undertaken after the disastrous fire.
I have known this pier since the 1950s and seen various owners try to maintain its classic beauty. Because of monetary constraints it has usually been a patch-up job.
Just one example – the woodwork used on the stairs and handrails on the building at the end of the pier was at one stage replaced with pine, a softwood, which gradually rotted due to the elements.
Mr Gulzar has replaced the whole lot with a hard wearing hard wood.
I can’t tell you what a thrill it was for me to have a two hour tour of this wonderful pier, especially the long lost pier theatre of my childhood, occupied it seemed every summer season by Sandy Powell.
We then progressed to the Camera Obscura at the very pinnacle.
This is virtually ready to go after the large lens is cleaned.
The wedding venue in the area that used to house the one time show bar and before that a buffet lounge, is beautifully restored and tastefully decorated, the boarding covering the windows removed to reveal the beauty of its outside surroundings.
I am so pleased that this wonderful Grade II listed pier of my childhood, with its happy memories, is in such good hands with someone prepared to steer it through difficult times, ploughing their own money into such a worthwhile project.
We were amazed at what he has achieved already; his taste and vision for the pier, as a family orientated destination, is I think, spot on and will save the pier for generations to enjoy in the future.
The people of Eastbourne are fortunate that he decided to call this lovely town home.