Memories of pier blaze as film director Ken Russell dies

JPNS-28-11-11-002 SOUTH PARADE PIER ON FIRE 1974''Front page of the The News from June 12th 1974 showing the Pier on fire.
JPNS-28-11-11-002 SOUTH PARADE PIER ON FIRE 1974''Front page of the The News from June 12th 1974 showing the Pier on fire.
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Ken Russell, the man whose film Tommy destroyed South Parade Pier at Southsea, has died aged 84.

The pier went up in flames 37 years ago while the director was shooting the rock opera Tommy on June 11, 1974.

JPNS-28-11-11-002 THE DEATH OF KEN RUSSELL correction pic 2

JPNS-28-11-11-002 THE DEATH OF KEN RUSSELL correction pic 2

The fire started when powerful arc lights shining through a ballroom window set fire to curtains.

The blaze was the biggest in Portsmouth since the Second World War and the flames could be seen all along the West Sussex and Hampshire coastline.

Russell’s son Alex, said his father died peacefully in his sleep in hospital yesterday<sun>.

During his career he became known for his controversial films which included Women in Love, which featured Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestling nude. He also directed the infamous religious drama The Devils

Do you have a memory of the pier fire? E-mail Chris Owen at chris.owen@thenews.co.uk