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Work begins on Hastings Pier renovation after years of neglect
This is what a ravenous fire and years of neglect have inflicted upon a Victorian pier.
These images mark the first time the press have been able to set foot on Hastings Pier in three years and shows the scale of the project that lies ahead for the landmark’s new owners.
Work has begun this month on bringing the historic and fire-ravaged pier back into use with the replacement of an essential but severely-damaged column.
The work marks the first stage of a restoration project which will cost more than £13 million.
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In January, the real work starts on reviving the structure, once known as "the peerless pier", and it is hoped it will be finished by early summer 2015.
Project manager David Spooner of the Hastings Pier Charity explained the work so far has restored a critical column which broke off at some point in the past five years.
The work was carried out pre-dawn last Thursday and Friday during low tide to prevent equipment being damaged by seawater.
Concrete has also been applied around the base of the column with a steel casing around it which should last for at least 50 years.
Two more columns near the promenade will be replaced before the start of the main steelworks on January 6.
Mr Spooner said: "We will take up the decking and work from the road, replacing steelwork that has rusted away and build ourselves a major access so that we can get out to the end of the pier and demolish the old ballroom.
"That will take us about six months and then we will come back and re-do all the decking, refurbish the pavilion, build a new visitors' centre, and 15 or 16 months later we will finish and there will be a lovely new pier."
The Grade II-listed pier has stood as a derelict eyesore since it was almost destroyed in a fire in October 2010 following years of neglect.
Hastings Borough Council sought a compulsory purchase order from Panama-registered owners Ravenclaw so control of the pier could be handed to a specially set up trust.
A community share offer for the pier has seen such a high-level of interest it has been extended until April 5.
It has raised more than £180,000 with 750 investors aiming for a minimum of £200,000 although organisers hope the final sum will be nearer £500,000.
Organisers have suggested a share would make an ideal Christmas present.
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