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Long walk, meet short pier

Somebody torched Hastings Pier last night.


It was a great spindly thing with a ballroom at the end, like a Victorian lady hiking her skirts and wading out to sea. Designed by Eugenius Birch (who also designed Eastbourne Pier and West Pier in Brighton — which was itself torched a few years ago), it opened in 1872 on Britain’s first bank holiday.

Its fortunes — like those of all Britain’s pleasure piers — were up and down through the 20th C and into the 21st. In the Sixties and Seventies, Hastings Pier was a rock and roll venue, hosting concerts by The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd.

They’ve already made arrests. I’m guessing it’s insurance money or something, but we may never get to the bottom of it.

There is no part of England that is farther than a hundred miles from the sea. When I was told this, I sat down with a map and a piece of string and worked it out. It’s true. The seaside holiday is deep down in the marrowbone of the Briton.

From the very beginning of the Nineteenth C — and really hotting up once railroads made travel easy — Brits built pleasure piers like this. Dozens of them. So they could visit the ocean even when the tide was out, without getting their pink satin slippers wet.

They’re like…long, thin state fairs stuck into the sea (the one at Southend-on-sea is almost a mile and a half long!). They had concerts and shows and shops and food running down the middle, railings on either side to look out over the water and at night they’re lit up like Rock City.

I love these things. I’m sure they make perfect sense to Brits.


Comment from Scubafreak
Time: October 5, 2010, 7:38 pm

Well, THAT sucks…. Sounds like when the pier in Atlantic City was torched.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: October 5, 2010, 8:56 pm

It’s hard not to think it was deliberate. The pier had stood unused for some time and the local council were trying to compulsorily purchase it. Unfortunately, they were up against a company registered in Panama (!) that wasn’t replying to letters.

Question is, what insurance company would pay out on a claim like that? It’s as much as you can do to get those devious bastards to pay out on a genuine loss!

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: October 5, 2010, 9:32 pm

compulsorily purchases CAN bring out the worst in people….

Comment from David Gillies
Time: October 5, 2010, 9:57 pm

Piers make perfect sense for coastal transport. It’s a lot cheaper to build a pier than a deep-water coastal anchorage for ferries where there’s no natural harbour or inlet. UK beaches tend to shelve very slowly, which means you have to go a long way out before there’s enough draught without constant dredging.

Ryde pier, second longest in the UK, is under maintenance at the moment. If it were destroyed you’d have to take a detour to Fishbourne, and it would be chaos. People were not happy about it hen I was last there.

Comment from Monotone (The Elderish)
Time: October 5, 2010, 10:14 pm

I Wonder how’d they’d like people setting their stuff on fire?

ugh, Seems like there’s alot of that going around over here too. Most of it over here is delibrate, so the idea that is isn’t much of a stretch.

Comment from Some vegetable
Time: October 5, 2010, 10:45 pm

It was some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground!

Am I really the first to make a “Smoke on the water” reference to an old rock venue that burned down?

Comment from Joan of Argghh!
Time: October 6, 2010, 12:22 am

I have a very nice pic of the Eastborne pier, but being from Florida I was so disappointed in the cobbly seashore there. It’s a shame that someone would torch the old gehls.

Not everyone loves the British seaside.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 6, 2010, 12:50 am

Heh. Very funny, Joan. Not without its truthiness, though anyone who lives in London — or, as we like to call it, Mogadishu — mustn’t throw stones.

For some reason, I got audio only. No video, which I assume exists. Buffering issue, maybe.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 6, 2010, 12:53 am

w00t! I am the #1 Google hit for “Barney Frank teeth.”

As in, “he hasn’t got any.”

Seriously, Massachusetts — elect somebody who can afford some fucking dentures, please. Thank you.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: October 6, 2010, 3:42 am

OK< WAY off topic, but this was too funny not to post…..


Comment from Frit
Time: October 6, 2010, 9:52 am

Scubafreak: I’ve seen that video without the subtitles, and I laughed my fuzzy tail off! Shared it with my partner, and several friends, and they also appreciated the humor. Yes, definitely worth posting here. 🙂

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: October 6, 2010, 10:36 am

I hope no one was injured. Badgers usually show up before the Big Red Trucks do, and I am always glad when I can tell dispatch to inform FD that building is unoccupied. The worst is when you pull up, and can smell roast person. I wa at a trailer fire once in the late ’80’s, that was in a 1960’s era mobile home, that had urea foam insulation. Urea foam insulation goes WHOOM! when it ignites. All that remained was the frame rails, when I got there, and the smell. The occupant had gotten out, but decided to try and go back in to retrieve objects, and was caught when the insulation went up. Fortunately that stuff is banned, but there are still some older trailers that have it.

I wonder if a North American Fire Department could have saved it? I know in Europe, the pumpers tend to be 2000 liter a minute pump equipped, while here in the US and Canada, 1500-2000 gallon per minute is the norm. That extra 250-500 gallons can make a big difference. Since we don’t have to take narrow pre motor vehicle urban and village streets into consideration, Seagraves and Pierce Arrows are much larger and more powerful than Dennises or Merrywethers.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: October 6, 2010, 10:55 am

Is there no subject that one of us minions doesn’t know an unhealthy amount about?

Quite amazing…

Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: October 6, 2010, 3:07 pm

I’ve just run across a television show set in Port Isaac, Cornwall; where one of the characters was burning a badger. On a funeral pyre. Do they do that often, do they? Burn badgers, I mean?

They don’t call it Port Isaac, though.

Comment from Allen
Time: October 6, 2010, 6:08 pm

I don’t know, but I wouldn’t put it past the Brits. First, they go on a pier building binge, and now they’re on a pier burning binge. It’s probably just some newer pagan rite. 🙂

Dammit Weasel! Just when I had that image washed clean you just had to bring it back. This must be some new form of coercion. How about Barneyboarding?

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: October 7, 2010, 9:16 pm

I hope it was a dead badger,

Comment from Hector Owen
Time: October 8, 2010, 4:42 pm

I can’t think of seaside holidays without remembering that charabanc trip, years ago.

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