A pier is reborn and an orchestra saved!
Hurrah for Hastings Pier! Or rather, hurrah for those determined people who fought to preserve it and restore it. We were so delighted to hear that it had been promised a £14m restoration job which is due for completion in spring 2015, thanks to hard work and campaigning by the Hastings Pier Charity.
The 'peerless pier', as it became known, was owned by an overseas company that neglected it so badly that a compulsory purchase order was issued last year and Hastings Borough Council, which is providing some of the funding, took over ownership in August. Most of the grant comes from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with other significant contributors including the Coastal Communities Fund - also using Lottery cash - and East Sussex County Council. Shares in Hastings Pier go on sale tomorrow (Saturday 5 October) which can be purchased at £100.00 per share if you fancy making your own investment in its future.
The charity has set out plans to restore it as a major seafront attraction with a 21st century take on the traditional scene, and very much a facility for locals and visitors alike. The pavilion will be renovated - it's not the original, which was destroyed by fire in 1917, but it has played host to such big names as the Rolling Stones, The Who and Jimi Hendrix - and a new visitor centre will be added in a style sympathetic to the pier's Grade II listing. The plans are fascinating, with designs that reflect the sea, both literally and metaphorically, and have sustainability and local interest at their heart.
Talking of great rescues, over in Brighton an incredible fundraising effort to save the freelance Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra raised over £70,000 in a couple of weeks and thus safeguarded the threatened 2013-2014 season. Without this cash injection the orchestra would have been disbanded and become another arts casualty - and a blow for local pride. So if you're staying in one of our nearby seafront apartments or you book a cosy cottage on the South Downs why not indulge your musical ear? My only tip would be, if you see (or rather, hear) them at the Dome, take water as it gets pretty hot in there.