Bangor Garth Pier celebrates its 125th year anniversary today, 14th May 2021. The pier will be lit up this evening to celebrate the special anniversary.

On this day in 1896, Lord Penrhyn officially opened the pier following a procession through the city and a crowd of over 5,000 people assembled to watch the opening ceremony.

 

History

Garth Pier is a Grade II listed structure and at 1,500 feet (460 m) in length, it is the second-longest pier in Wales, and the ninth longest in the UK.

The original Pier had a small railway for handling baggage which had been included in the design, it was removed in 1914.

The pontoon handled the pleasure steamers of the Liverpool and North Wales Steamship Company to and from Blackpool, Liverpool and Douglas, Isle of Man.

In 1914, the cargo steamer SS Christiana broke free from the pontoon overnight and caused considerable damage to the neck of the pier. A resulting gap to the pontoon was temporarily bridged by the Royal Engineers, that remained until place until 1921 due to the onset of World War I. By this time, additional damage had occurred, and repairs took a few months over the originally envisaged few weeks.

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.

The Council purchased the pier for a nominal fee of 1p in 1975, although it wasn’t until 1982 that renovation started. The restoration took six years to complete and the pier reopened in 1988. Financial assistance was given from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Welsh Office and Manpower Services Commission. The pier was reopened by George Paget, 7th Marquess of Anglesey on 7 May 1988.

Major restoration work commenced in August 2017 costing £1.8million which involved replacing steel trusses and supports, this is the first major restoration project since the 1980s.

Celebration

A large-scale event is not possible due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however some celebrations will proceed nonetheless. At 11am, the Mayor of Bangor Cllr Owen Hurcum will unveil a new plaque commemorating the 125th year anniversary.

Following social distancing rules, the Mayor will be joined by other members of Bangor City Council, kiosk-holders and representatives of Friends of Bangor Garth Pier (FGBP), a new volunteer group working with the City Council to provide help and support to visitors on the pier and ensure that the pier thrives and has a sustainable future.

Ahead of the important date, Mayor of Bangor Cllr Owen Hurcum said: “Our pier is the jewel in the crown of our great city, affording all who venture upon it some of the finest views imaginable. It has stood as an asset to our city for over 125 years, and it has served the people of this city throughout this time.

“The pier has faced numerous challenges throughout its journey and perhaps none more-so than the recent structural repairs that have seen an incredible investment of over £1.8m to ensure the survival of this structure for the next 125 years.

“We can’t turn out as a city today to celebrate its momentous anniversary, but we can, and we will, celebrate the pier in our own way moving forward. The pier is in the lifeblood of this city, it’s part of Bangor’s hiraeth and I very much look forward to seeing its history to come.”

Avril Wayte, Chair of Friends of Bangor Garth Pier, said: “It is a huge privilege for us to be involved with Bangor Garth pier, and play a pivotal role in protecting the pier for the future, especially so as we are enabling the local community to take part in that process. Our pier – owned by the City Council and loved by all.” 

With the large-scale event delayed by a year until May 2022, Bangor City Council and Friends of Bangor Garth Pier will celebrate the anniversary in different ways over the coming months.

A series of interviews, discussions and presentations on the history of the pier and the area will be published online, with a number of small-scale events and activities scheduled to take place on the pier later on this year, subject to Covid-19 regulations.

A Digital Programme will also be published today to acknowledge the important date. Please visit https://bangorcitycouncil.gov.wales/News or bangorpier.org to view the Digital Programme and further information on the 125th year anniversary celebrations.

Photos:

  • Bangor Pier (Credit unknown)
  • Bangor Pier Postcard dated 1904
  • Bangor Pier sliced in two by a cargo vessel S.S Christiana during a storm December 1914.
  • Bangor Pier Lights (Photo Marilyn E Williams)