Just days after the 200th anniversary of the first British pier, at Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, was celebrated, a fire has ripped through Eastbourne pier’s main atrium causing millions of pounds worth of damage.
The fire on the 144-year-old structure is thought to have started at 3.15pm on Wednesday afternoon (30 July). Civic leaders said the large dome had been badly damaged and meetings were scheduled with owners Cuerden Leisure. Cuerden’s General Manager was yesterday said to be “on site attending to matters with the fire brigade”.
Carolyn Heaps, Lead Cabinet Member for Tourism and Leisure at Eastbourne Borough Council, told CN: “Our first concern is for the safety of all those who work on the pier and those who were visiting the pier [yesterday].
“It was tragic to see this much loved Victorian landmark on fire. The council was supporting the emergency services as they tackled the fire and in keeping the area around the pier safe.
“We will be liaising with the owners of the pier, Cuerden Leisure.”
The Grade II listed pier was “the finest pier along the South Coast” according to Anthony Wills of the National Piers Society.
Hoteliers have described it as “vital” to businesses in the area. The pier has been used in many films and adverts and people have been married on it.
Sussex Police said, however, they were not treating the blaze as suspicious.
Liberal Democrat local MP Stephen Lloyd said the fire was “dreadful news. We are all praying it can be saved”.
Had the fire broken out on a Friday or Saturday night “it could have been a complete disaster”, Lloyd added.
Some 40 piers have been lost in Britain in recent years, including Hastings Pier, which was destroyed by a fire in 2010 and the Grand Pier in Weston-Super-Mare which suffered a blaze in 2008.
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