2 April 2017
|Date||22 February 2015|
|Location||Garth, Bangor||SH 58451 73224; 53.23710°N, 4.12236°W|
Bangor Pier was built not only as a promenade pier but also to take advantage of the popularity in the late 19th century for pleasure-boat trips. The Liverpool and North Wales Steamship Company – which was established in 1890 as the New North Wales Steamship Company and which changed its name the following year after taking over the competing Liverpool, Llandudno and Welsh Coast Steam Boat Company – operated services between the new pier and Liverpool, Fleetwood near Blackpool, and Douglas in the Isle of Man. Following the decline in local pleasure cruising during the 1950s the company was wound up in 1962.
The pier, which was opened in 1896 by the 2nd Baron Penrhyn, was designed by Lancashire-born civil engineer John James Webster (1845-1914) and was constructed from steel girders supported by cast-iron columns and had a pontoon landing stage at the end. The structure, in the Garth district of Bangor, originally projected 1550 ft (472 m) into the Menai Strait. Currently 1500 ft (457 m) long, it is now the second longest surviving pier in Wales (the longest, Llandudno Pier, is 700 m long).
There are a number of kiosks along the length of pier and a 14-sided pavilion at the end, whose café originally served steam-boat passengers. There was also originally a narrow-gauge railway running the length of the pier to convey passengers’ luggage. Unlike many other piers, the one in Bangor has never hosted typical seaside amusement facilities.
The structure was seriously damaged in 1914 when the 130 ft vessel SS Christiana, which was incidentally built in the same year as the pier was completed, slipped it moorings at the pontoon and struck the pier. A temporary gangway was put in place to bridge the gap in the pier caused by the accident. The three-foot gauge railway was also removed when this repair work was undertaken. Permanent remedial work was, however, not carried out until 1921.
Following the demise of the pleasure-cruise services, the pier fell into into disrepair during the 1960s and was closed on safety grounds in 1971. It was acquired in 1974 by Arfon Borough Council, who decided to demolish it. Bangor City Council, however, managed to prevent this by obtaining a preservation order which led to its being granted listed status. Ownership passed to the City Council, which subsequently secured the funding necessary for its renovation. Restoration work carried out by contractor Alfred McAlpine commenced in 1982 with financial backing from the Welsh Development Agency, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Historic Buildings Council for Wales and the Manpower Services Commission. The pier, which is now a Grade II* listed structure, re-opened to the public in 1988.
The pier is currently in need of essential repair work and the City Council is faced with a major shortfall in the funds necessary for this. In 2011 it was announced that although over the past 25 years the council had been putting money aside for its maintenance amounting to £1 million, the costs involved in treating corrosion and painting the metalwork were likely to exceed £2 million. At the end of 2014 the council appointed consultants to assist with an application to be submitted this year to the Heritage Lottery Fund for financial support to develop more detailed renovation plans.