County news: Madness’ Suggs finishes refurbished pier’s decking

Madness lead singer Suggs screwed the last plank into a newly-refurbished pier’s decking in Sussex today (Tuesday, March 22), before its anticipated opening next month.

The Hastings-born pop star completed the redecking of Hastings Pier after a £15m renovation over the past two years.

Madness lead singer Suggs at Hastings Pier after finishing off the decking

Madness lead singer Suggs at Hastings Pier after finishing off the decking

The band will also be headlining a gala opening celebration on the pier on Saturday, May 21.

Graham McPherson, aka Suggs, said he is excited to be the first musicians to play on the pier following its impressive musical heritage after the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Who and others performed there in its heyday.

“I was born here and went up and down this pier as a kid myself but the band never had an opportunity to play her in our first incarnation,” he said.

“So the rest of the band had no choice in the matter.

Suggs drilling the final screws into the Hastings Pier decking

Suggs drilling the final screws into the Hastings Pier decking

“It’s lovely to see something that was such a massive part of Hastings’ culture come back.”

The new pier is 11,000sqm, nearly 300m long and a ‘work of art’, according to Suggs, after a successful restoration project following the devastating fire in 2010.

The original pavilion is the only building restored after the fire and will become a restaurant with an open space for amusements and carousels in front of it.

Then there are buildings akin to beach huts which will be boutique stalls for food and drink from Hastings businesses.

(L-R) Hastings Pier Charity chief executive Simon Opie, Heritage Lottery Fund south east committee chairman Paul Hudson and Suggs on the refurbished pier

(L-R) Hastings Pier Charity chief executive Simon Opie, Heritage Lottery Fund south east committee chairman Paul Hudson and Suggs on the refurbished pier

In the middle of the pier is the new building, The Deck, which will be a heritage centre and function room with a cafe and roof terrace on top – the only rooftop terrace on a pier in the world.

The wood used on the outside of The Deck and for the tables and chairs is all from restored planks from the original decking.

And at the end of the pier will be a space for gigs, open-air film screenings and a circus in August and where Madness will be playing.

More than £11m was awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to fund the bulk of the project as well as £2.5m from other sources.

Suggs signed the underside of the plank before adding it to the pier decking with Simon Opie

Suggs signed the underside of the plank before adding it to the pier decking with Simon Opie

HLF’s south east committee chairman Paul Hudson said: “Hastings Pier, a landmark for those who live nearby or visit, has witnessed over 140 years of history – from the Suffragette movement to the swinging sixties.

“The completion of its restoration is auspicious for the pier’s survival and will also provide important opportunities for social and economic regeneration.”

Chief executive of Hastings Pier Charity Simon Opie thanked the HLF for providing the ‘lion’s share’ of the funding which made the restoration possible.

Tickets for the Madness concert are £25 each and will be available from www.hpcharity.co.uk from 9am on Thursday (March 24).

The gala opening celebrations will be free but subject to ballot due to crowd restrictions.

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