Aberystwyth Pier – 150 years of history

In 1864 the railway arrived in Aberystwyth bringing with it a wave of enthusiasm regarding the growth of the town as ‘the Biarritz of Wales’. It saw the development of hotels and the building of a pier on Aberystwyth promenade.

The pier was designed by the engineer, Mr Eugenius Birch and built by J.E. Dawson for the Aberystwyth Pier Company. It was opened on Good Friday, 1865 by Mrs Dawson and on its opening day 7000 visitors paid to see the view from the end of the 242 metre structure.

Pier 1865

Print of the new pier from the Illustrated London News (ADX/1005 – Ceredigion Archives)

At the beginning of January 1866 the pier was damaged by a storm which saw part of the structure fall into the sea. The pier was rebuilt in 1872 by the engineers James Szlumper and Aldwinkle and reopened on the 21st September 1872 with a firework display.

The pier was sold in 1885 to the proprietor of the Queen’s Hotel, William Henry Palmer for £1,200. He sold it in 1891 and by 1895 it was in the control of a company called the Aberystwyth Marine Pier Company, a subsidiary of the Improvement Company.

It was in this time that the Pier Pavilion was added to the structure. The £8,000 work was completed by the Bourne Engineering and Electrical Company and the Pavilion was designed by George Croydon Marks. The pavilion was used for a luncheon given by the University of Wales for the Prince and Princess of Wales in June 1896, thus giving it the name the ‘Royal’ Pier Pavilion.

Aberystwyth pier and pavilion

Postcard of the Pavilion and Pier (ADX/115/8 – Ceredigion Archives)

On the 15th January, 1938 the ‘Great Storm’ which hit Aberystwyth destroyed a large portion of the promenade and over half the length of the pier disappeared. In the 1970’s the pier and pavilion were purchased by the Don Leisure Group and they improved the remainder of the structure. Currently the pavilion is still a functioning establishment and contains various leisure facilities.

The pier has survived, it may have been battered and bruised over the years but remains a prominent landmark on the Aberystwyth promenade, a haven for the winter starlings and a pretty spot to watch the sunset go down.

HAPPY 150TH BIRTHDAY.

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