The Pier Will Live Again

By Tony May

Have you ever had your signature analysed by a computer and learnt what it reveals about your personality traits? I have, I paid my money and took my chances when browsing the kiosks on Brighton Pier a number of years ago. I remember reading the printout I got and contemplating what it said about me…

“Your friends see you as somewhat autocratic” it said. Now, not knowing what ‘autocratic’ meant I was puzzled by this? As soon as I got home I told Mum about my results. When she explained to me what ‘autocratic’ meant I burst out laughing!

Cheeky blooming computer! I thought – but I had to admit it was right never the less.

The reason I am telling you all this is that my mind has been thinking about Piers, their past and whatever future there may be for them of late. Why? Because, after what has seemed an eternity, meaningful work has finally begun on Hastings Pier.

Resurrection of the Phoenix from the fire is not what is going to take place, however, as there will not be any attempt to restore the Pier as such instead we are to see the pier ‘reinvent’ itself for practical and commercial purpose in a modern day town. This makes me both happy and sad. To think that the long- standing connection the Pier has to the history of our town has gone forever and that it will no longer be able to serve as a ‘living museum’ to the traditional seaside experience is upsetting. This said, the opening of a new Pier can only be a good thing for Hastings and I sincerely hope that it will soon re-establish itself as the focal point in local peoples lives that the old Pier once was. New memories created for a new generation with just a ‘tip of the hat’ to the old days is how I see it turning out from looking at proposed plans.

As I am sure you all know my thoughts and feelings regarding exactly what happened to the Pier on the night of the fire in Oct 2010 are well documented and so I will not repeat them here suffice to say that as time has passed I have come to realise, as that cheeky computer on Brighton Pier pointed out, that while I see things in a very black & white manner others do not and as such take a very Page Twenty-Three different view on what is and is not important and what course of action should be prioritized. This realisation has not come easy to me and I have not arrived to where I am today on the issue without a good deal of thought and heartache. Still, I can now honestly say that, having heard the voice of the community shout loudly in my ear that it wants to move on and think about the future and not the past, I am once again able to feel some connection to the Pier and take some joy from witnessing its gradual re-invention.Pier5

The current estimate as to when the Pier could re-open is ‘late summer, 2015’ but looking at the vast amount of work to be done that seems a rather surprising and optimistic date to me. Still, to have a date to think upon and plan towards must be good news as far as the town is concerned. Many of our battling small traders have had a rough time of things of late and a new Pier is certain to attract plenty of fresh visitors to the area. I believe Hastings is quite capable of making people fall in love with her once they do come. We have so much going for us here what with the No1 local music scene in the country (according to an online poll), the fresh sea air and the most panoramic view of the sea for miles not to mention festivals, traditions and the feel that history is but an arms reach away. Perhaps when the new Pier is up and running we will also finally master the art of marketing ourselves better as well, I hope so!

As one of the very last performers to sing on the old Pier it would be lovely for me to get a chance to sing at least one song on the new Pier. I’m not very happy to own the tag that I do so it would certainly help me to contribute something to the re-opening ceremony. As I am not a professional singer, however, I doubt that will happen but if not I may just have to settle for singing to myself from the Pier apron one quiet evening.

So, there you have it, the thoughts, hopes and dreams of one man regarding the NEW Hastings Pier. Real hope is now in sight for Hastings to once again feel like a proper seaside town and I sincerely hope that these photographs of mine are enough to start you dreaming.

Rye’s Own May 2014

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