Hastings Pier has been destroyed by fire following a suspected arson attack.
A small fire was reported by a passing police patrol at the East Sussex tourist destination at 01:00 BST this morning, with fire services called.
However, the blaze quickly engulfed the pier – which had stood since 1872 – with fire-fighters able to control the fire at 08:00 BST.
Some 95 per cent of the structure has been destroyed, according to police officials.
Two arrests have been made.
Originally 280m long, the pier was closed in 2006 following concerns over safety.
Earlier this week Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust had invited architects to submit designs to redevelop the pier.
Following an extensive campaign to save the property Hastings Borough Council agreed to buy the pier with a compulsory purchase order and hand it to the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust.
The decision followed a study which showed it could be made safe following an investment of £3 million.
A statement from Cllr Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings Borough Council, said: “We are very disappointed this fire has taken most of Hastings Pier’s upper levels with it.
“The fire-fighters have worked heroically to try and contain the blaze but unfortunately because of the wind, the state of the pier and the danger of going on it, the fire really took hold.”
Fire services were on the scene in a matter of minutes, with attempts made to preserve the core structure of the pier.
Two RNLI lifeboats offered assistance alongside the Sussex Police helicopter.
Some fire-fighters were taken to the scene by lifeboat.
No causalities have been reported following the blaze.
“The Council will now be looking at a new structural survey so that we can be absolutely clear on the degree of damage to the sub structure,” added Cllr Birch.
“Then we can see what the future holds for this iconic building on our seafront.”