Eastbourne Pier fire: Can the Victorian landmark ever be restored?

Fire crews claim to have saved ‘a great deal’ of the Victorian structure

Fire crews said on Thursday they have saved “a great deal” of Eastbourne Pier, after a fire that lasted hours ripped through the 144-year-old Victorian structure.

The blaze – believed to have been started behind some wood panelling in the arcade – began on Wednesday afternoon and destroyed the pier’s roof. No injuries were reported and Sussex Police are not treading the fire as suspicious.

As of 9:45am on Thursday around 20 firefighters remained at the scene “damping down and cutting away” to ensure all hot spots were dealt with, and to ensure no chance of re-ignition, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said.

But Eastbourne Borough Council leader David Tutt said he was hopeful the pier could be repaired. He is expected to be having meetings on Thursday in order to assess the damage and see how the council can “move forward”.

 

Eastbourne Pier has a nightclub and is a popular wedding venue, in addition to being known for the arcade. Mr Tutt said: “We are offering whatever help we can to the owners if there are weddings booked and so on to find new locations so nobody is disappointed.”

Eastbourne Borough Council said senior decision makers will meet on Thursday to discuss the response to the fire and “immediate next steps”. The council thanked the emergency services, particularly East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, for their “outstanding” work in tackling the fire.

“It is thanks to their bravery and professionalism that there was not more extensive damage to the pier,” it said in a statement.

What appears to be left of the pier is a shell of the structure’s largest dome, close to the shore, with a number of buildings badly damaged, while an investigation into the blaze is underway, a fire service spokesperson told the BBC.  

Despite the leaping flames and great plumes of smoke that were seen engulfing the pier during the blaze, chief fire officer Des Pritchard of the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service told the BBC that “there’s a great deal that’s still there”.

He said the outgoing tide and low water pressure had hampered crews, who were still dousing spots of fire overnight, but that their hard work had “paid off”.

“Pier fires are notoriously difficult to fight because there is one way on and one way off – and the tide can cause additional problems.

“The hard work of our firefighters has paid off in that we have been able to save a section of this iconic landmark but I know for the people of Eastbourne, this will still be devastating.”

Around 60 firefighters had arrived at the scene by 3pm, including personnel from neighbouring towns, but the severity of the blaze saw crews rise to around 80 people by 6:30pm.

“The good news is that we don’t have a Brighton or Hastings scenario where the whole pier is destroyed,” Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd said.

Brighton’s West Pier burned down in 2003 and the structure’s shell can still be seen looming out of the water between Brighton and Hove. In February this year, storms in the UK destroyed yet more of the pier, with the former pavilion split into two sections after part of it collapsed into the sea under the strength of 70mph winds.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links