Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hastings Pier: burning yesterdays

Hastings Pier: burning yesterdays

Hastings Pier burned last night. I can claim neither a history with Hastings, nor any specific connectivity. A few days only in a lifetime. But the image lingers.

My wife and I had spent some time in Southampton in May 2006, while immersed in one of our annual peregrinations around our favorite island. As planned earlier, we decided to take a train over to Hastings for a few days: a journey of approximately three hours.

We stayed at The White Rock Hotel, across the promenade from the pier. (Later that year the pier was closed for safety reasons.) My wife took the accompanying photograph from our room. During our stay, as was the case during last night’s conflagration, Hastings was buffeted with high winds. (My wife’s diary has an entry which states: “… a big window looking out at the old Victorian pier and at the water … great wind blowing … furious waves … high waves breaking under the pier across the road.”)

I have trawled my mind for remembrances of Hastings Pier in film. Without research, I can think of none, but television is likely another matter. My wife and I are partial to Foyle’s War. We have seen the complete series at least three times. But it has been a while since last we watched, so we cannot recall in which episode (or episodes) the pier might have been shown. But we suspect the pier is evident somewhere along his rounds, as Inspector Foyle roams the region, maintaining order on the home front while his nation is at peril. (The pier seemed too iconographic not to have been used.)

So Hastings Pier is in my mind this morning. Another vestige of another yesterday that is not what it was. There is a sadness about burning yesterdays. So I will not add a picture of last night’s carnage but rather leave the photograph as our remembrance of a few windy days in Hastings. And, were some juxtaposition of time and reality possible, I can picture the good Inspector Foyle standing on the promenade this morning and watching the fire subside, manifesting that little facial tic of his, and showing just a glint of sadness in his eyes.

(A note for our English friends only. If early reports are true, the fire which destroyed a century-and-a-half old pier was attributed to arson caused by two yobs. That might qualify for an Asbo each.)


  1. So sad; yes: two halfwits are being held.
    Angela and I visited Hastings a year or two ago on various pilgrimages and found the place delightful. (Among other things, as I'm sure you know, it was the home town of the enigmatic Grey Owl.)
    Angela took some nice photos of the pier; you may enjoy looking at them here:


    The most interesting use of Hastings in the movies that I know of is Pasolini's Canterbury Tales.

    Best as ever,

  2. I believe Sam and Andrew had tea on the pier before they started dating in Foyles War.
    Even though I live in California now, I used to visit Hastings a lot. It's another part of our English heritage that is ending and makes me so sad.

  3. Thank you Matthew. I have a slight familiarity with the Grey Owl. And I not surprised that you knew a film in which the pier was shown. I have not seen Pasolini’s “Canterbury Tales” but for years I touted “Gospel According to St. Matthew” as my favorite film about Jesus. But it has been years. I enoyed the photos of Hastings and will peruse Devon later. Best, particularly this October. Gerald

  4. Thank you Hannah. I think I remember that scene with Sam. I have the full series, so will take a look later. We spend two months a year working in England and roaming around when time permits. You are quite correct about the vestiges and foundations of your heritage ending, but that, alas, is not restricted to England. Best. Gerald