Eastbourne Pier owner reveals sad state of former theatre

Eastbourne Pier owner Sheikh Abid Gulzar has taken a swipe at previous owners of the seafront landmark for allowing the disused former theatre site to be left in what he called a 'shocking state of disrepair'.

Tuesday, 3rd May 2016, 2:53 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd May 2016, 3:54 pm
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The Pavilion Theatre – which was popular for decades – has been untouched by a string of owners since it was badly damaged by fire in 1970.

Mr Gulzar said that 46 years later, the area is damp, lying in an unusable state, and with electronic wiring hanging from the roof and walls.

Mr Gulzar said, “People have expressed some very strong views about Eastbourne Pier since I bought it last autumn, and they deserve to know the truth.

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“The whole area is an absolute disgrace and it should never have been allowed to get into such a state. And yes, it is me who has been left with the job of sorting it all out.

“I intend to sort it out – because I want the pier to be lovely everywhere and I want the people of Eastbourne and beyond to love this iconic site.

“What has been left to ruin here is completely unacceptable. Why has it never been said before that the old theatre should be sorted out? Many have been keen to say they want the old theatre back working on the pier, but I don’t think anyone realises the true extent of the mess that it has been left it. It is shameful. Why has nobody done anything about it?”

Mr Gulzar says he has 10 workmen in the area trying to sort out the windows and other renovation work, but he admits it is a very big job.

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He also said it would be an ideal location for a casino.

“This is where I want the casino to be,” he said. “I also think a dance hall – proper traditional dancing – would also be very popular. But please realise the extent of the renovation that is needed.

“I am absolutely appalled that nobody has ever asked any questions about it. A minority were quick to criticise me at the outset, but this is a scandal.

“However, I will do my very best – with my team – to bring it back to a condition that we can then use the area properly. It is one of my biggest challenges on this pier.”

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In 1970 a pier employee set fire to the Pavilion Theatre on the pier and severe damage was caused to its shoreward end, including the destruction of the access staircase to the camera obscura.

As a result the theatre was closed down and the remaining part of the building converted into a nightclub. The theatre area has been redundant since then.

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