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Eastbourne Pier reopens after fire

Less than two months after a devastating fire, Eastbourne Pier reopened to the public today.

Visitors and traders flocked to the 144-year-old, Grade II*-listed attraction which has a walkway along one side to allow people access.

Christy Broadley, 42, from Eastbourne, East Sussex, told The Argus newspaper: "We just moved here before the fire and one of the largest deciding factors that made us move here was that we fell in love with the pier.

"We were absolutely devastated about the fire; I was watching from my office in Bexhill and everybody there was in tears.

"It is nice to see the shops open again. We have spent too much money on teddy bears trying to support the local shops."

Trader Ian Donald said it had been a "terrible eight weeks" which had cost traders a lot of money.

Visitors were able to enter two-thirds of the 1,000ft (305m) pier which was not destroyed, including the shops, cafe, fishing platform and nightclub.

A weekend of celebrations, including a family fun day, is marking its reopening, Eastbourne Borough Council said.

Attractions include big band music, face painting, stiltwalkers, juggling and balloon modelling shows, as well as performances from various musicians.

Pier general manager Christos Stylianou said: "We've been working hard to get the pier reopened as soon as possible and are very excited about welcoming people back on to it.

"This weekend is a celebration of the huge progress made in such a short time and a show of our appreciation to people in the town who have been so supportive in helping us get the pier back into operation."

The fire on July 30 left the dome-shaped amusement arcade near the privately-owned pier's entrance a scorched shell. Everyone escaped unharmed.

It was initially suspected that an electrical fault could have caused the blaze, but Sussex Police are now treating it as "suspicious". No arrests have been made.

In the aftermath, Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne visited to see the damage as Downing Street pledged up to £2 million to help Eastbourne's tourism industry recover from the pier's loss.

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