The past 17 months have seen the driest conditions on record in the East of England, and the South East isn’t fairing much better. This report from the Environment Agency shows that river flow, reservoir and ground water levels are well below what is considered normal. The report suggests the measures that might need to be taken if we do not get significant rainfall in the near future, with vague terms such as ‘customer restrictions’ and ‘efficiency education’ being mentioned. I don’t think we are near the Great Drought of 1976 yet, but if this goes on for a few more months that may change.
Ghosts of the pier is a photograph that combines a picture of Hastings Pier in it’s heyday with one of how it is now. When looking at old structures or places I always try and imagine what they were like in the past. I found a website (via a WordPress Blog whose name escapes me) that combines photos of World War 2 and splices them into photos taken today. The website is by Sergey Larenkov and I strongly recommend that you take a look at these moving and evocative pictures.
His work has inspired this post. It seemed a relatively simple task at first, all I needed was a decent quality picture of the pier in it’s prime, then take a photo of the pier from the same view. It wasn’t as simple as that!
Finding old pictures of the pier is easy enough, but finding one that shows the pier in the context of it’s setting and also with a decent crowd is harder. The next problem is to find a jpeg of sufficient quality to enable a reasonable sized image. I eventually found two likely candidates.
The next problem was to work out where the old picture was taken from, which is easy to estimate. The first shortlisted photo I couldn’t recreate as a large block of flats has been built that partially blocks the view. So I’m down to this photo, which was taken from the steps leading up to White Rock Gardens. The final part of the process is to take a photo that captures the same scene, but is also taken at the same height and angle of the original. The photo I finally used was one of several I took from varying positions. In the end the main guide was the curve of the roof and the alignment of the turrets on the right hand building.
The original picture I found on the Hastings Chronicle history of the pier, which contains the full story of the pier from concept to present day. The scene shows a concert being held in the early 1960’s.
And here is my duplicate shot of the pier today. I added a couple of modern day cars from the unused photos to add some contrast to the old ones.
Venturing further under Hastings Pier, the noise of the sea and my feet crunching on the pebbles increased as it was reflected back off of the metal work, decking and concrete. The sound of the traffic above was drowned out, and although busy with people on the promenade I felt as if I was in a completely different place. Perhaps that’s one of the best things about taking photographs, is that in the quest to find a different angle or shot you end up in the places few other people go.
Of the photos I took that day I prefer this one the most. What do you think?
In it’s 1970’s heyday Hastings Pier had a steam boat still gave tourists trips from the end of the Pier, a theatre, concert hall, amusements and a zoo. According to the Hastings Chronicle, when the zoo was closed a charity brought some of the animals including 10 hens and 20 rats. You can tell it was a good zoo. Hastings Pier also played host to some of the great music acts including the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendrix and Pink Floyd.Â It has also featured on some more recent music videos including Ash’s “Tracers” and Kingmaker’s “Queen Jane”.
These pictures show the damage caused by the fire to Hastings Pier’s top surface, and the intricate ironwork that makes up it’s structure. Although taken at midday, there was sufficient sea mist to create some nice sunrays through the gaps in the wood work.
I spent a bit of time photographing Hastings Pier last week, so my next few posts will have this as the subject. I have posted a view of the pier previously and described it’s fate, you can view this post here.
Eugenius Birch designed Hastings Pier, one of fourteen he built which include the West Pier, Brighton, Eastbourne and Margate. It took two years and about Â£1.5 million in today’s money to construct the 910 feet long (277 meters) structure. When the pier opened on 5th August 1872 it was raining. The local dignitaries at the opening included the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, Earl Granville and Thomas Brassey. The pier was described as being ‘the peerless pier’ or ‘the palace on the sea’.
A second pier, the St Leonards Pier, was opened along Hastings seafront at St Leonards (oddly enough) in 1891, opposite the Royal Victoria hotel. It survived a couple of German bombs during the 2nd World War, but was damaged beyond repair during subsequent storms and demolished in 1951.
Along with the Pier the Harbour Arm is the other major feature of Hastings beach front. It has featured in some of my posts already and will again. During construction in the 1890’s engineers found that the sea bed where the harbour arm ends changed from stable sandstone and gravel to the unstable mud of an old river bed. Faced with sprialling costs the project was abandoned. Although not completed the arm has helped build the long shingle beach that stretches between it and the pier. To see the difference 120 years makes compare this picture to this one here. That’s what longshore drift does.
In a recent post of mine I provided a link that explained the action of longshore drift. Although it’s not something most people notice or care about, it has profoundly changed the coastline in Sussex and the economic prospects of Hastings and the surrounding area.
There are three large stone castles along the coast here, Pevensey Castle near Eastbourne, Hastings Castle and Camber Castle. All three were built to protect landing areas and ports. Hastings and Rye in particular were key trade and military ports between 1066 and 1300 due to their proximity to France. Both towns would have been rich and of high status. What would they be like now if their harbours hadn’t silted up?
All though the great storms that occured in the 12th century contibuted greatly to their demise, the slow and steady work of longshore drift sealed their fate.
These photos show how the sea acts upon the shingle. Splash, drag and push is all it does, and through such work changes the fortunes of communities.
The RSPB website describes the Herring Gull as ‘large noisy gulls’ and mentions twice that they can be found near to rubbish tips. If the RSPB struggles to find something nice to say about them you know that it’s not the most loved of birds. Interestingly it says their numbers have declined over the past 25 years, yet there are still 750,000 of them in the UK during the winter. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them are in Hastings.
It had recently stopped raining and the stiff breeze was driving the clouds across the Channel. The large building is Marine Court , and the pier can just be seen peeking above the shingle.
I took a walk through my local woods to take these pictures. It was cold. When I took this picture the moon appeared much larger when I looked at it with my naked eye. This I’ve learnt is an optical illusion, as explained on this webpage.