Llandudno Pier, North Wales
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Llandudno's classic crescent bay falls naturally between the Limestone outcrops of the Little and Great Orme, and being geographically ideal, it was to become one of the few Victorian seaside towns to be specifically built for its holiday potential. The whole resort is a wonderful example of early town planning, with Llandudno Pier and the Grand Hotel being an integral part of the design. Commissioned by the Llandudno Pier Company, the design was by Charles Henry Driver in conjunction with James Brunlees, engineer. Llandudno Pier took just over a year to construct, opening to the public in 1878. The design of the pier is unusual in that instead of a normal straight neck projecting from the shore, Llandudno Pier has a 45-degree turn roughly a third of the way along its length.

Extending 1,234ft (376m) from shore the pier comprised initially of a promenade deck with a 60ft (18m) 'T' shaped pier-head, punctuated by four pairs of elegant kiosks along the neck, with a further three larger octagonal kiosks at the head. Spectacular use was made of wrought iron in its decoration, especially in the delicate balustrades and lattice work railings. The completion of the shoreward end of the complex was to take a further six years and comprised of a new pavilion that incorporated a swimming pool, and an extension past the Grand Hotel to the promenade that increased the pier's overall length to 2,295ft (695m). A landing stage was built in 1891 being reinforced in the early 20th century, and the surviving seaward end pavilion was added in 1905. Major alterations were made again to the landing stage in 1935.

The Trust House Forte group purchased Llandudno Pier in 1968 and was responsible for the further replacement of the landing stage, this time in concrete, in 1969. The shoreward end pavilion was closed in 1990 and was subsequently destroyed in a fire on the 13th February 1994. It has since been demolished and not rebuilt. Unusually Llandudno Pier continues to provide a pleasure service to the Isle of Man, as it has always done.

Structurally very little else has changed over the years and Llandudno Pier is still considered by many to be the finest surviving Victorian pier in Britain. Llandudno Pier is now a Grade II listed building and a British Tourist Authority report in 1975 said of it - "It zooms out of the sea all 1,400ft (424m) of it, in a spectacular Indian Gothic style rather like a Maharajah's palace floating on a lake. Cast iron, brackets of iron lacework, an outstandingly pretty balustrade like an enlarged fish net, ogee roofs curling away to the sky, all add up to a totally pleasurable experience".... There really is little else to be said.

 

Great Orme Tramway
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