Stark close-up of pier fire damage

The fire-damaged Hastings Pier

The fire-damaged Hastings Pier

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THIS dramatic image shows the full extent of the fire damage to Hastings Pier.

Almost 90 per cent of the historic structure was destroyed during the blaze back in October – leading to genuine fears that the pier may be lost forever.

Since then Hastings Borough Council has shelled out £250,000 to make the pier safe amid fears that the structure may collapse.

And the community group hoping to rescue the pier is desperately trying to find another £200,000 to help secure the once proud Victorian attraction throughout the winter months.

However, access to the pier has been restricted, meaning the public was unable to see close-up the damage caused by the arson attack.

That was until the council invited the Observer to tour the wreckage on Friday – and according to the authority’s spokesman, the partial demolition has gone to plan.

Best Demolition – the firm contracted to make the pier safe in the short-term – has removed almost all the buildings on the top of the pier, including the once-popular bingo hall, and promenade of boutique shops.

All that remains are the units on the right hand side of the apron section – the part which used to house The Gritti Palace bar.

And heavy duty scaffolding has now been installed on the Old Town side of the pier to prop up badly damaged struts and trusses on the listed underside.

What remains is a sea of charred timber, derelict empty shops on the apron and swathes of scaffolding. A far cry from the bustling glory days of the 138-year-old pier which regularly attracted tens of thousands of visitors every weekend.

More importantly for the future of the pier though, the scene is a vast improvement on the smouldering shell which greeted passers-by following the massive fire earlier this year and The Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust still believes it can reopen a modern pier by spring 2013 – provided it can secure millions in funding.