Old Hickstead grandstand gets Olympic overhaul

  • The old grandstand at Hickstead was pulled down and chopped into little pieces last week (5 May). In its place a more modern grandstand from the Olympics 2012 in London is going up.

    It took two diggers 24-hours to demolish the old stand, which had been a familiar feature of the All England Jumping Course in West Sussex for the past 44 years.

    The steel work was removed to the scrap yard and the big pile of timber left behind taken to green waste.

    The decision to knock down the grandstand was taken by Hickstead last September, but it wasn’t just a case of sending in the bulldozers said director Edward Bunn.

    “We had to get permission to demolish and undertake environmental surveys to check there were no rare breeds living in the grandstand which there wasn’t, apart from woodworm,” he said.

    By the time all the necessary permissions had been granted, the ground was too wet for the work to begin so the works were delayed until this month.

    The new grandstand is similar in size to the old one  – situated next to the Derby bank — but has proper seating rather than benches. Unlike its predecessor it meets all the current health and safety regulations.

    “The view of the course will be identical as it’s the same height and will sit on the same footprint,” added Mr Bunn.

    “The only difference is we no longer have the jump store underneath so all our poles and wings are currently in a marquee.”

    A barn is being built to house the jumps next year.

    In the arena the famous Derby bank has been re-turfed and “is looking very green”.

    In September the arena will be filled with people, instead of horses, for the first time with the launch of music event, Boomerang Hickstead (12-13 September). Jessie J and The Vamps are headlining on the Sunday with the line-up for Saturday to be announced shortly.

    Part of income from the event will go towards further improvements of the equestrian facilities, said a Hickstead spokesman.

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