Bangor City Council are faced with a shortfall of nearly £600,000 for essential restoration work on Garth Pier.
The restoration work commenced in August 2017 and the council have spent £1.3million on the work, money which they already had in reserve for the project.
Detailed incremental surveys undertaken last year revealed more challenging problems and the extent of the metal decay. The survey showed that trusses supporting the end of the pier were so weak and corroded there was a real risk of the pier collapsing, this resulted in the pierhead closing to the public in June 2018 due to health and safety reasons.
New steel trusses and supports have now replaced the decayed and weak areas, with 69 out of 75 trusses being replaced, which has proved expensive both in terms of labour, time and metal.
Scaffolding is still up on the end of the pier and is likely to remain it place as it would be very costly to take it down and rebuild it at a later stage, a cost the council is keen to avoid.
The unforeseen work on the pier means the extra cash is now needed in order to finish the restoration and the council are now considering ‘all options’ in order to raise the cash.
An application for funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund was rejected in 2014/15 and a new application – which would cost thousands in expert help to put together – would not give any guarantee of success. Other ideas include applying for finical help from historical monuments body Cadw or support from the Welsh Government.
Bangor Mayor John Wyn Jones said: “There’s nothing that’s not in our minds… We’re even thinking about crowdfunding.” Although Mr Jones added that “ratepayers had footed their share of the bill over the years, so the council did not want to impose any charges on people in the city.”
The Pierhead will remain closed to the public until it is deemed not to be a construction site and the pavilion will be rebuilt, with access anticipated being available to the public in June/July 2019.
Garth Pier opened in 1896 is a Grade II listed structure and at 460m in length, it is the second-longest pier in Wales, and the ninth longest in the British Isles.
In 1971, the pier closed on safety grounds, with ownership being passed to Arfon Borough Council in 1974. The council took the immediate decision to demolish the pier, but Bangor City Council objected, obtaining a Grade II listing for the structure, with the planning officer considering it one of the three finest surviving piers in Great Britain.
Bangor City Council purchased the pier for a nominal fee of 1p in 1975, and restoration began in 1982 taking until 1988 to complete. Financial assistance was given from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Welsh Office and Manpower Services Commission. The pier was reopened on 7 May 1988.
Garth councillor Huw Wyn Jones said: “It’s a fantastic pier and fantastic location. It’s probably the best Victorian pier left in Wales.
“You only need to look at Colwyn Bay pier just up the coast, 25 miles away, where maintenance wasn’t done and it fell into the sea.
“Unfortunately that’s what happens with piers if you don’t maintain them – for me, that makes it even more important that we look after this one and make sure it’s here for generations to enjoy in the future.”