Pier shares sale hits £500k target

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Hastings Pier

A charity has smashed its target of selling £500,000 worth of shares in a fire-ravaged pier to help fund its long-awaited restoration.

Earlier this week organisers behind the revival of Hastings Pier in East Sussex called for a final push to reach the target before today's deadline.

After selling more than £470,000 by Thursday, the Hastings Pier Charity said the last-ditch appeal for more investors has now helped it hit £500,000.

A statement on the charity's website said: "We would like to say an enormous thank you to everyone who has contributed to the effort to restore and renew the pier. We look forward to seeing everyone on the new pier when it opens late spring next year."

In January, work started in earnest to restore the Grade II-listed Victorian pier in an ambitious project costing more than £13 million.

That money is being used to fund the engineering, steelwork and major renovation needed to bring the structure back to life.

But the share scheme was offered to pay for attractions needed to make it financially viable, with more than 1,900 mainly local shareholders investing.

Plans for the pier include funfairs, a circus, an open-air cinema and theatre, farmers' markets and a mirrored heritage centre to reflect the seaside views.

The heritage centre will house memories from residents, and will feature recorded recollections, pictures and memorabilia of the old pier.

There are also "tentative" plans for a microbrewery on the pier, and a bar and restaurant under the guidance of eco-restaurateur Jamie Grainger-Smith.

Most of the existing pier structure is being recycled or reused, with wood from the old decking being turned into benches, chairs and tables for the new pier.

The pier has stood as a derelict eyesore since it was almost destroyed in a fire in October 2010 following years of neglect.

Two men, then aged 18 and 19, were arrested shortly afterwards but the Crown Prosecution Service later said there was not enough evidence to bring charges.

Nothing was done by its then Panama-registered owner Ravenclaw to restore the structure, which first opened back in 1872.

The lack of effort led Hastings Borough Council to seek a compulsory purchase order so control of the pier could be handed to the specially set up charity.