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Hastings Pier wins RIBA Stirling Prize


Hastings Pier won Pier of the Year earlier, and now wins the coveted RIBA Stirling prize as well as the people’s vote.

I documented part of the preparation for judging by the pier engineering team, on a very early morning shoot:

More from the Hastings Pier Charity here.

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Fade Away and Radiate

hastings pier abstract 2

Continuing my obsession with Hastings Pier.

Wrapped like candy in a blue blue neon glow

The calm after Storm Angus is startling. From dramatic clouds, roaring winds and the loud soundtrack of water smashing the pebbles, all has slowed into a much smoother looking state.

The sky has become cloudless and sharply cold. The sky is an ever shifting wall of colour gradients, especially as the sun begins to sink, the sky intensifies. Everyone is on the West side of the pier staring into the sun.

Fade away, and radiate

The silhouettes of chatting ladies in the café sipping tea. They look up for a moment, tea cup held midway to the mouth, and say. “That was fast”, as the sun slips below the horizon–too engrossed in Christmas shopping lists and gossip to observe the spectacle beside them. It is fast, yes. The tangential speed (in Hastings) is about 500 miles per hour or something, isn’t it?

The beams become my dream

As the sun drops further, all the colours fade into black. The sea and sky begin to merge at the horizon into a vast dark infinity. For a few moments, the orange glow filters into the safety barrier on the pier. Like an electric bar fire. Like a flaming harp. Until they flicker and die. Until tomorrow.

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Come sail your ships around me

St Leonards Marine Parade

To be fair, this is a picture of St Leonard’s Beach, bereft of people due to the incumbent storm. Marine Court is so dominant, once the tallest residential building in all of Great Britain. I shall come back to the Sid Little designed seafront another time.

Marine Court is a Grade II (1999) listed Art Deco building modelled on the White Star Line’s Queen Mary. Completed in 1938, it is 49 metres tall and 127 metres long. It is built using, at the time pioneering modern steel frame construction – as used in skyscrapers to this day.

The West end suffered bomb damage in WWII and part of the building is now exposed brick. That is a story in itself, it was a flying bomb that was actually hit by Anti Aircraft fire, and dived off course into the nearby St Leonards church, destroying it. It actually whizzed up the road before exploding. Thankfully the church was empty and there were no casualties. At the time, Marine Court was occupied by troops, who were having a dance when the bomb exploded. Despite damage to the building, no one was hurt there either.

The building is looking a little unloved now, but actually the freehold is now owned by residents after massive neglect by the previous owner. There is a plan in place for restoration – especially as the building comes up to its 80th birthday.

I found this postcard which coincidentally has a similar view to my photograph. The architecture in that view is exactly as it was in 1938. Most of which, the new seafront was designed by Sid Little. The only new addition is the safety rail on the sun terrace, and it looks like the beach level is raised.

Marine Court postcard

PDF booklet about the history of Marine Court

There’s a great PDF booklet about Marine Court here:

Marine Court booklet (PDF)

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St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is not my favourite building in London by a long shot. Despite being a Londoner, I’ve never even been inside.

Something caught my eye this day. The light maybe.

Whenever I look at Sir Christopher Wren’s building, I’m always left in awe of the size of the original St Paul’s, burned down in the Great Fire of London 1666. The new building is 111m tall, but the old one reached 148m and was mostly made of wood!

Here’s a scrappy photoshop job to show how the old building would scale in modern London.