Blaze damaged pier opens amid fanfare

Trader Ian Donald SUS-140929-093902001
Trader Ian Donald SUS-140929-093902001

Eastbourne Pier reopened for business at the weekend – just under two months after a blaze destroyed almost a third of the popular seafront landmark.

More than 600 people were waiting at the entrance of the pier on Saturday lunchtime as security men took down the railings which had kept the public off the structure since Wednesday July 30.

A special walkway has been constructed down one side of the pier so people can get access to the shops, cafe, nightclub and fishing deck.

Wooden hoardings surround the burnt out metal structure of the Blue Room amusement arcade and there are viewing panels so people can see the damage caused by the fire.

Among the first on the pier on Saturday morning were VIPs and members of the emergency services who helped stop the blaze from spreading. Also invited were ten lucky Gazette and Herald readers who joined the civic dignitaries and fundraisers for refreshment and cakes in the pier tearooms.

Between noon and 6pm Saturday almost 5,000 people went on to the pier and on Saturday night Atlantis nightclub was filled to capacity with a crowd of 900 revellers. Similar numbers of visitors were recorded for Sunday.

Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd and the pier’s general manager Christos Stylianou officially reopened the pier and said they were delighted to see how the town had rallied round and shown support in the aftermath of the fire which is still being investigated as arson by Sussex Police.

Pier traders, who have been housed in pop up shops in front of the Carpet Gardens while rebuilding work was carried out, said they were delighted to be back in their units. Ian Gordon from Pier Gifts said he hoped the people of the town would support traders on the pier and Mike Beckwith at the Glass Studio said he was looking forward to welcoming customers.

In memory of Stephen Penrice, the 44-year-old workman who died after falling from the pier while construction work was ongoing in August, a bunch of sunflowers and a photograph were placed at the entrance on Saturday.

• For more on the pier, see Friday’s Herald.