It was very sad that Hastings pier was destroyed by fire on Tuesday morning. Around midday I looked out of the window and it seemed very foggy - didn't realise it was smoke - a helicopter was hovering over the pier but I thought that a boat might be in trouble. It was only when I turned on the radio that I heard what had happened on the news - we hadn't heard anything during the night.
Before it closed in 2006 I liked walking along the promenade and then out over the sea to the end of the pier - the view when you looked back was spectacular. The ballroom at the end also hosted some famous gigs: The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, The Sex Pistols - I saw a great show by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds there a few years back.
I walked past it last week and actually thought at the time 'this is an arson attack waiting to happen' - it was very easy to get on to the pier despite some fencing and there have been a number of unfortunate precedents around our coast. At least the arsonists appear to have been caught. Sadly, Hastings has an unusually high number of stupid residents and a stupid number of high residents thanks to the pervasive drug culture, a hangover from the Thatcherite policy of 'decanting' troublesome families and the long-term unemployed to its B&Bs in the 1980s. The fabric of the town has definitely been improved over the last few years, so this is a major setback. If only a multi-millionaire would step in and fund a rebuilding.
Author of Subterranean City, Beneath the Streets of London, London's Coffee Houses, Decadent London, The Folklore of London, Subterranean City (Revised and Expanded Edition), Netherwood, Last Resort of Aleister Crowley, Lord of Strange Deaths, the Fiendish World of Sax Rohmer; Secret Tunnels in England, Folklore and Fact