Chris Barnett… For 30 yrs I’ve spent my life going to what has been amusingly called ‘toilet venues’ to watch killer young, up & coming bands cut their teeth in some of the UK legendary small venues: My bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, Goat, Blur, The Libertines, The Verve, The Manic Street Preachers, Ride, Oasis, Mazzy Star, Pulp, Flaming Lips, King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard, Spiritualized, Mudhoney, The Vaseline’s, Loop, Carter USM, The House of Love, The White Stripes……
Sadly as you may be aware, many once great venues have been forced to close over recent years, robbing this country of not just some of its great cultural underground beacons, but also crucially that of 1st base destination venues for both new bands to tread the boards, or old established bands wanting to revisit their roots!!!!
Closer to home: since the closure of the Crypt here in Hastings several years ago, the town has tragically fallen off the map on- The Great Rock n’ Roll Toilet Venue Trail! Thankfully though, this is (hopefully) all set to change!!! Last month my business partner and I secured the freehold to a strategically key building here in Hastings that crucially straddles & connects St Leonard’s with Hastings. Built in the 1930’s: ‘The Norman’ is a whopping great 4 storey 1930’s late Art Deco dive bar that used to be a corner stone of the local community, providing live entertainment into the early hours.
Tragically, along with many other places along our South East Coast, the pub had seen better times & following years of decline, 4 yrs ago it finally bowed to regional & economic problems and closed. More recently though (like so many other traditional pubs & other importantly positioned buildings), it’s faced a new ever more real threat – the blight of property developers wanting to turn it into ‘trendy’ apartment blocks!!? That would have been a further cultural travesty but thankfully this is now NOT going to happen!! It is our intention (with a little bit of luck & support from all our friends & the local artist community), to see this once much loved old boozer, brought back to life as a very much pivotal, community based rock n’ roll destination dive bar (but with nice toilets, a great beer-wine-spirits offering & (hopefully) an affordable, array of healthy, locally sourced food provisions! The pub will be christened ‘The Piper’ – a gentle nod to one of the greatest albums of all time, and the very town in fact which, believe it or not……: a certain young Syd Barrett, performed his last EVER gig here on our pier with his band: The Pink Floyd, 50 yrs ago this year!! So long rest The Syd & long live ‘The Piper’ as we enter a new era at the gates at dawn!!! Please take a moment to ‘Like’ our new Facebook page which is called ‘The Piper’ (& has the same pic of the pub as here on the post) where you will be able to follow the exciting developments of the pub as we start the renovation of this landmark building as well as details of the crowd funding project we are launching shortly, to help raise some much needed funds to help renovate this pub & see it returned back to its former glory!
The Piper… Like a Phoenix, rising from the ashes, the Norman arms will be reborn!
The Piper calls! Offering a vast array of live music, arts, contemporary culture and quality libations. Coming soon to a St Leonards/Hastings near you!
Alan Esdaile… Very best wishes to ‘The Piper’
Adrian Straatman… Keep it alive, good luck regards Adrian & Annabelle The Hurst Arms in eastbourne
Dave Nattress… Nice article Chris and good luck! When I was a lad, a saying was you never saw a pub or a church close down – but for many years both forms of entertainment or sufferance have seen many closures. I think a statistic I heard a few years back was that something like 7 pubs a week close down! Many of course used to be important music venues, as you say Chris, helping young bands get their first gigs albeit some audiences hardly made double figures. Several bands/individual artists can attest to this indignity.
Neil Partrick… Great news. Good work Chris. He (or she) who crowd funds the Piper will get to hear live tunes.