Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Friday, 8 May 2009 14:08 UK

Status of listed pier is upgraded

Eastbourne Pier
Eastbourne Pier was ordered to be blown up in WWII but later spared

A historic south coast pier, described as one of the best in Britain, has had its listing upgraded following a review by English Heritage.

Eastbourne Pier, which opened on 13 June, 1870, has been upgraded from Grade II to Grade II*.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the upgrade would help the pier owners' renovation plans, including repairs to its theatre.

New attractions including a monorail, casino or restaurant could be included.

The DCMS said Eastbourne Pier was among the finest surviving piers designed by Victorian engineer Eugenius Birch.

The 14 other structures include the now-derelict Brighton West, Blackpool North, Birnbeck at Weston-super-Mare and Hastings.

Decking removed

Some of the original iron side railings and seating survive in the centre section of the 1,000ft-long pier.

It houses a camera obscure - an early precursor of the camera - in a building erected in 1901.

It is a rare surviving example of a camera obscura and is thought to be the only one on a pier in the world.

During World War II there was an order to blow up the pier, to stop the enemy using it in an invasion.

It was spared, though the majority of its wooden decking was removed and later replaced by concrete slabs.

"Eastbourne Pier has long been a focus for this lovely seaside town," said culture minister Barbara Follett.

"I hope that recognising its particular importance will help to breathe new life into this Victorian masterpiece."

The DCMS said the pier's listed status would ensure that any alterations reflected the character and interest of the building.

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