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.
This week has seen the first really bad weather we have had for a while. It’s not been one long week of strong winds and rain though, there have been periods where the clouds have cleared and the wind dropped. It was during one of those periods that these were taken.
The wind wasn’t too bad at the time, but the waves rolling in were still quite impressive. The spray coming off the crest of the way was nicely highlighted by the sun which was slowly being obscured by the incoming rain.
To give an idea of how high the waves were, some of them were reaching the top of the Harbour Arm. In truth I’d hoped the winds would be stronger as the sight of them smashing onto the beach and Harbour arm is spectacular. I’ll have to wait for that though.
This is a view of the West Hill, Hastings. The prominence on the left is called ‘Ladies Parlour’ a flatish piece of ground that sits on top of sandstone cliffs that drop away to the sea. This ground was possibly part of the original Norman castle that was built as a motte and bailey in 1066 then rebuilt in stone in 1070. It is now separated from the castle by a ditch, which was apparently dug during the castle redevelopment in 1220. Since then the castle has been burnt by the French and bombed by the Germans. We have punished those crimes by charging their descendents (who visit the town in droves) exorbitant fees to visit the castle.
This picture has been taken from Ladies Parlour looking towards Hastings ‘new’ town and Beachy Head. The new town is actually the site of the former harbour, now long silted up. The castle is best pictured from the town, however this view does show what a commandingÂ postition it had. It remains one of the key visual features of the town.
It’s a sad sight a the moment but there is hope for Hastings Pier after the fire that nearly destroyed it. After a great deal of campaigning, the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust (HPWRT) have secured a round 1 pass for an Â£8.7m Heritage Lottery Fund grant, including Â£357k in development funding.
Â£8 million of that will be spent restoring and repairing the iron structure.
Although a resident of the town for all of my life, I can probably count the number of times I visited the Pier on one hand. There was nothing there of interest to me, just standard tourist tat and arcades.
I think they should put a quality restaurant at the end of it, with huge windows so that diners can enjoy the views of the sea and town. I’d probably go there from time to time they did that.
The plans for the Pier according to the HPWRT website are to “restore the Hastings pier to its former glory as the â€˜Peerless Pierâ€™, iconic of the British seaside, providing all year round family activities and leisure, including traditional and vintage seaside amusements, an education centre for schoolchildren to learn about the past and the future including the environment, and the use of low energy and renewable energy sources which we aim to incorporate into the pier. But also to use the pier for its original Victorian purpose of a healthy Â leisurely Â pastime, â€˜walking on waterâ€™, therefore, our first step will be to make it an inspirational and fun board walk, part of a new a vibrant seafront at White Rock contributing to the social, Economic, cultural and environmental regeneration of Hastings and St.Leonards”.
No mention of a restaurant.