There is something special about piers and they are an integral part of a traditional seaside holiday. The pier at Eastbourne is no exception, particularly when seen with the sunrise behind it, or lit at night.
The proposal for a pier was first mooted at the end of 1863, and highly favoured by the town’s major landowner, William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire. It was to have been 1000 feet in length and, at a cost of £12,000, would have been situated at the end of the town’s grandest avenue, Devonshire Place. However, the project was delayed and finally abandoned in favour of the present site at the junction of Grand and Marine Parades. The pier was eventually opened in 1872 but the landward end was swept away in a storm in 1877 and had to be rebuilt.
It is an elegant cast iron structure built on stilts and projecting about 1000’ into the sea, and had a theatre, bar ands camera obscura. Holiday makers were charged 1d to walk along it. Paddle steamers ran trips from the pier along the south coast.
During the Second World War, part of the decking was removed. A Bofors anti-aircraft gun was sited midway along the pier and and machine guns were placed in the theatre.
The theatre at the end of the pier was destroyed by fire in 1970. The pier suffered another fire in 2014 which destroyed the main arcade building and other buildings in the middle of the pier.
The pier was then bought by a local hotelier who has completely renovated it, repainted it in white and blue and added new benches down the pier.
It looks splendid and is still popular with locals and holiday makers. There are good views back across Eastbourne from the pier and it blows away any cobwebs!
Unfortunately at the end of October, Many of the pavilions were empty or to let. The Victoria Tea Room looked popular and the Drop in the Ocean at the end of the pier was offering ‘live entertainment’ with music blaring out.
There were a couple of gift souvenir shops a glass studio, candy shop and ‘new age’ Crystals and candles. One of the smaller pavilions did have slot machines, but apart from that, there was only the booth with Zoltar speaking your fortune for £1.