More than 60 firefighters bravely tackled the fire as it raged throughout the day, with some even taking to the seas to douse the flames from on board an RNLI lifeboat.
The Herculean effort could not save the derelict pier and early estimates suggested as much as 95 per cent of the structure had been destroyed.
That included the historic ballroom, which had played host to some of the biggest names in music and was where the fire began just after 1am.
Initially, it looked like the fire could be contained to the final third but a change in wind direction forced the flames back down the pier and within hours, large chunks of the top side were reduced to ash and glowing embers.
It was a mammoth operation by the emergency services, with police, fire, lifeboat volunteers and even council staff fighting to minimise the damage.
The blaze could not have come at a worse time, with members of the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust meeting just hours earlier to finalise plans for taking over the ownership.