'Goldfinger' tycoon closes iconic Hastings pier

Hastings Pier was designed by renowned Victorian engineer Eugenius Birch and opened on a wet and windy August Bank Holiday Monday in 1872 by the Earl of Granville, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. 

The opening was a grand affair attended by local MP Thomas Brassey and, local lore would have it, 'Egyptian princes'. 

From the outset it was a popular tourist attraction, with visitors travelling from miles around. Its permanent pavilion was used for concerts and plays, and the pier’s landing stage enabled ferries to ship passengers to nearby piers on the South East coast and, on a few occasions, to Boulogne in northern France. 

From the outset it was a popular tourist attraction, with visitors travelling from miles around (undated photo of tourists lounging on deck chairs at Hastings pier)

From the outset it was a popular tourist attraction, with visitors travelling from miles around (undated photo of tourists lounging on deck chairs at Hastings pier)

In 1910 an ‘American Bowling Alley’ was erected a third of the way down the pier and a joy-wheel roundabout soon followed at the front of the pier.

After a fire severely damaged the seaward end of the Pier in 1917, a new pavilion building was constructed in 1922, which was given an art deco re-vamp in the 1930s.

That decade was to be the pier's heyday. In the first week of August 1931, 56,000 people passed through the turnstiles (the population of the town at the time was 66,000).

During World War II the Pier was temporarily closed and requisitioned for training. In 1943, a middle section of the decking was removed to deter the Pier being used as a landing platform for invading ships. 

A boat load of holiday makers arrive at Hastings Pier in this undated photograph

A boat load of holiday makers arrive at Hastings Pier in this undated photograph

Although the enemy never landed at Hastings, a large number of Belgian and French refugees landed on the pier in a tug boat.

In the 1940s and 1950s paddle catamarans were for hire on the beach below the Pier.

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