As Hastings looks forward to the completion of its most iconic structure, a new project by the Hastings Pier Charity will be using state of the art equipment and techniques to explore its dramatic past. The In Living Memory project will employ a broadcast journalist and a team of local volunteers and students to gather a series of oral histories about Hastings Pier. What they uncover will form the basis of films, sound recordings, a book and a play about the Hastings landmark. Over the next 6 months, local people are being invited to contribute their memories of the pier to the In Living Memory project.
The Hastings Pier Charity has recently commissioned local broadcast journalist Jake Bowers to gather the people’s memories of the People’s Pier. His work will concentrate on finding and recording oral histories still to be found within the living memory of local residents. Using state of the art digital recording equipment he will train a team of students and volunteers of all ages to mine the rich seams of memory about the most iconic structure in the town. The recordings will be stored as part of a growing digital archive about the pier, but will also brought alive through films, a book and a play by Helenswood students later this year. Some will be immortalised on interpretative signs on the pier and in its new visitors centre. As a broadcast journalist that has worked for BBC, ITV and Sky, Jake is looking for powerful stories that capture the role the pier has played in many people’s lives. “As someone who regularly went to the pier disco in my teens, I witnessed both tears of laughter and sadness on those well-‐worn decks.” says Jake. But he wants to find about the drama others witnessed. “Did you witness the hysteria of a Rolling Stones concert in the sixties or find an enduring love that started with a kiss me quick hat?” he says. “If you promenaded along its boards in its heyday or witnessed its horrific cremation I would love to hear from you.” He says that no story is too mundane for the project, in fact the best stories aren’t that likely to feature an encounter with rock stars like Mick Jagger or Jimi Hendrix who once performed in the ballroom at all. “I’m looking for the angler who landed his greatest catch on its decks, or the young woman who was impressed with the diving physique of what turned out to be her future husband.”
In short, he’s looking for the both tragedy and comedy found in all our lives where Hastings Pier was the stage and Hastings people were its players. The best recordings will be used to produce a piece of verbatim theatre produced by Helenswood students this autumn and a memory book about the pier to be published later this year. The first of a series of 50 recordings has been made as a film which can be freely used or embedded on your website. In “The Boy with Tartan Trousers”, which is the video here on our website, we meet a local man who has worked all over the world, but returned from Iraq to lead the rebuilding of the pier he often visited as a boy.
• Future recordings plan to feature everything from those who met and fell in love on the pier, to those who witnessed the fire that almost destroyed it.
• Volunteers who would like to help find and record Pier Stories will be trained by Jake Bowers at the Hastings Pier Charity’s remise the Hub on Hastings seafront on February 11th, 12th and 14th.
For further information contact Jake Bowers, In Living Memory coordinator, on 07966 786242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Video by Jake Bowers.