This film is part of Free

Herne Bay Newsreel 1969 - 1970

The seventies get off to a bad start in Herne Bay as the pier's Grand Pavilion comes to a sad and fiery end - all captured by John Clague's camera

Amateur film 1969 28 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


John Clague's amazing film starts with the construction of new sea defences using heavy machinery. After a colourful hospital fete we see Archbishop Michael Ramsey in Reculver, presiding at an outdoor religious ceremony. Then we see repair work being carried out on the town’s pier before fire breaks out in the Grand Pavilion, reducing it to cinders. After artists exhibit their works on the sea front we see the pier before and after the fire with rainbows over the water.

John Clague was a keen amateur filmmaker who was based in Herne Bay. From 1934 to 1970 he produced annual newsreels showing events that had occurred in the town and its surrounding area. Today, these films form a lively chronicle of life in Herne Bay over several decades. An architect by profession, John worked on the replacement of Herne Bay's Grand Pavilion, the fiery destruction of which is seen in this film. It's thought that the fire was started accidentally by a welder's torch during the reconstruction of the pier entrance, which is also recorded in the film. John Clague designed the Grand Pavilion's replacement, now called the Pier Pavilion, in 1971 and it was eventually opened in 1976.