Norman Road bar rises to a new dawn

A St Leonards pub which has been closed since 2013 is soon to reopen its doors as an exciting underground music venue and community bar.

The Norman Arms is to be reborn The Piper and will celebrate its grand opening on 22nd June.

Chris Barnett

With 30 years’ experience working in the music industry, new owner Chris Barnett hopes the Norman Road venue will breathe new life into the area, attracting music lovers from across the South East who will come to hear an eclectic mix of bands and music.

Inspired by both a love of small ‘dive’ venues and Hastings and St Leonards’ rock ‘n’ roll heyday, when bands such as Pink Floyd and The Who performed on the Pier, he and business partner Andy Barker bought the four-storey pub last summer.

Following a substantial renovation – which has included refurbishing the 1930s art deco ground floor bar, improving disabled access, and redesigning the first floor as a soundproofed stage and bar area – The Piper is set to become a hub of community and musical activity.

While live music events will take place in the 175-capacity venue upstairs, the ground floor lounge bar and café will soon be serving locally sourced food and beers throughout the day and evening.

The first-floor space will also be used for activities such as early morning yoga, art classes and record fairs.

“Our main focus, as members of the community, was to save the building and save the pub.” said Chris, who moved to St Leonards in 2017.

“We want to bring some life back to the street and create a music driven venue that will be reaching out to international artists across Europe, America and further afield.” 

The entrepreneur has owned a record label since 2003 and manages bands through his company, Suss’d Management.

“I’m trying to provide this town with a space where like-minded individuals can enjoy music.” 

Ground floor bar

“To see interesting underground music, you have to go to London or Brighton, but the demographic here’s changing and there’s increasingly a hungrier audience for great music.”

The Piper’s name was inspired by Pink Floyd’s first album Piper at The Gates of Dawn and is a tribute to some of the great bands and musicians who once performed on Hastings Pier. A bust of the legendary Syd Barrett, who played his last ever gig with Pink Floyd on the pier in 1968, is being created by renowned sculptor Suzie Zamit and is soon to be unveiled at the venue, in celebration of its opening.

• Acts who will be performing in coming weeks include Bo Ningen on Friday 28th June, and former Trembling Bells member Lavinia Blackwall with guests Mike Hastings and Solveig Askvik on Thursday 4th July. Tickets are available on Dice.
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