Well, what is going on at Hastings Pier? It appears transformed… for the better. Battleaxe devotees will know that I have ranted on about the Pier since this blog first started – my earliest post was back in February 2012. After Gulzar bought it the Pier seemed a hopeless, lost cause. But now he has sublet it, and it is all much improved.
Yes, back in 2012 I wrote an angry piece about how the restoration project had failed to get going even after the award of Lottery money, and got into trouble for it with the then CEO… but time moved on, we became community shareholders, and full of enthusiasm, attended the grand opening in 2016. We watched in horror as the charity managing it collapsed, and it was sold to ‘Sheik’ Abid Gulzar for a pittance in 2018. We protested about Gulzar’s prolonged closure of the Pier in 208/19, and then tried to make the best of plastic animals and gold elephant teapots for a bit, before giving up. We have not been near the place for months.
Gulzar still owns the Pier, and it must be a worry that the constant, on-going maintenance a structure like that needs is presumably not happening, but for now, things have changed for the better.
Look at this from the Brighton Argus… The Pier is now managed on a temporary basis by an outfit called Music First. I can’t find out much about the company by Googling… they seem to be based at an address in St Leonard’s… primarily event organisers and concert promoters. See this bit from the Hastings Observer – not very informative but I don’t know much more…
Anyway, last weekend Battleqaxe and Philosopher went to have a nose about. We had forgotten how much we enjoyed the great views from the deck…
However, it was very windy, and the 600 seat socially-distanced ‘biggest beer garden in the UK’ was a bit empty. It all looked very high tech to get anything to drink – there was one of these on every table.
One thing that might put me off would be lack of shade – the tables are all in the sun. Maybe a few table shades?
Gulzar’s big sheds, which caused such a furore with the HBC Planning Department and then took several light-years to actually get erected, seemed shut up and deserted – I don’t know what will happen to them. The amusement machines still seemed to be operating in the former Visitor Centre. However, plenty of the smaller huts were occupied and busy, and there were various other catering outfits dotted around as well as fish and chips.
The main cafe has, thank goodness, lost the gold-teapot-strange-red-statue vibe and is now occupied by a pop-up kitchen called 3 Souls in a Bowl. Again, I’ve heard good things about it, will try the food and report back.
Despite the wind, the Pier was busy, and most important of all, it is transformed – the atmosphere has changed for the better – people enjoying themselves, and far less tack and rubbish. I do feel slightly that with its live music, craft beer, Asian fusion food etc it is all aimed more at youth… where are the grannies in plastic macs drinking cups of tea?
But if Hastings Pier is busy and buzzing, then that’s enough for Battleaxe!
Stop Press… I’ve just been reading on social media that some fairground rides have just arrived at the Pier. Excellent.
Finally, here are the masked Pier Inspectors at work…