Bangor Garth Pier, North Wales

Bangor, along with neighbouring Llandudno, probably gives today's enthusiast the best opportunity to see a how traditional promenade piers would have looked in their heyday of the 1860s. Ironically, construction of Bangor Pier did not commence until the mid 1890s, making it one of the later piers to be built. Designed by J. J. Webster of Westminster, and at a cost of some £14,475, Bangor's new 1550ft (470m) pier opened to the public on 14th May 1896 with a ceremony performed by Lord Penrhyn.

Constructed largely in steel, with cast iron columns and screw piles, Bangor Pier comprised of a wooden deck punctuated with a series of elegant polygonal kiosks with steeply pitched roofs, ornamental lamps and handrails, and a pontoon landing stage at the head. A 3ft (90cm) gauge railway for baggage handling was also included in the design, but was removed in 1914.

Handling steamers from Douglas, Liverpool and Blackpool the operation of the pier remained uneventful until 1914 when a coaster, the 'SS Christiana', broke free of her moorings and collided with the neck of the pier causing considerable damage. The resulting gap was bridged with a temporary gangway, courtesy of the Royal Engineers, that subsequently remained in place for a further seven years as a result of the Great War.

In 1921 the 'repair' was reported to be in a serious condition, and a decision was finally taken at this time to effect a permanent repair. During the course of this work, further damage was discovered to an adjacent pile, and to one of the central piles that had settled by some 4.5 inches (112mm). In the event it took several months and much additional cost to remedy the situation.

Bangor Pier was finally closed to the public for safety reasons in 1971. Ownership of the pier passed to Arfon Borough Council in 1974 who took the decision to demolish it. The City Council put in an objection, and successfully obtained a Grade II listed building status for the pier as it was considered to be one of the three finest surviving piers in Britain. Subsequently purchasing the pier for a nominal one penny in 1975, the City Council set about the daunting task of raising the required funds for a full restoration. Taking a further seven years to secure the finances, the project was able to commence in 1982 and took a further six years to complete. With assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Welsh Office and the Manpower Services Commission, the fully restored Bangor Pier was reopened by the Marquis of Anglesey on 7th May 1988.

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