Happy birthday Hastings Pier

By | Category: Travel news

© Dan Sperrin

No, its not the anniversary of the pier in Hastings – either its building or its dreadful fire two years ago. Earlier this week the Heritage Lottery Fund celebrated its 18th birthday by handing out grants which included £11.4 million for the Grade II listed Hastings Pier which was badly burnt out two years ago. The grant should be sufficient for it to be restored and re-open to visitors in 2014. Amongst those campaigners that CD-Traveller has written about in the past, this will seem like a birthday present.

It’s hard to believe that the Heritage Lottery Fund is 18 years old. It seems to be have been around for ever. During that time it has handed out £5 billion for heritage works and goodness knows how many projects and buildings would have been left to rot and collapse without their support. Forget the well-rehearsed arguments about our taxes shouldn’t be undertaking this role rather than lottery money and whether we aren’t preserving too much. Or that the money would be better spent – in these economic times – on health and community support. Those arguments will always be around and opposing views will continue to exist.
Instead we should wonder whether the pier in Hastings would ever be able to open without this support. Or that the other projects given grants like the 149 year old Hoxton Hall which is a rare surviving example of a saloon-style music hall would survive at all.

Other projects given money this time around include Westonbirt, St Mary at the Quay in Ipswich, Kimmeridge Fossil Museum in Dorset and Rothesay Pavilion on the Isle of Bute.

But it is at the Swiss Garden in Old Warden Park, Bedfordshire that the money will be very useful. For as part of the grant to repair and conserve the garden’s buildings and ornamental structures, funding will also go to establish four apprenticeships so that skills are passed on to the next generation.


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