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Llandudno Pier
Llandudno, Conwy, Wales, UK
Llandudno Pier
associated engineer
Sir James William Brunlees
Alexander McKerrow
date  10th July 1876 - 12th September 1877, 1883 - 1884
UK era  Victorian  |  category  Pier, seaside  |  reference  SH784832
ICE reference number  HEW 432
photo  © Ian S and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Llandudno Pier is one of the older 19th century piers surviving on the north Wales coast. At 700m it is the longest pier in Wales, and once housed the largest indoor swimming pool in Britain. The original timber pier has been replaced by the present cast iron structure, which was constructed in two sections. Now in private ownership, the Grade II* listed pier remains open to the public.
Llandudno was one of the few Victorian seaside towns to be built specifically as a holiday resort. The first pier here was owned by the St Georgeís Harbour & Railway Company and opened in 1858. It was 73.8m long and founded on 16 timber piles. Though badly damaged during the Royal Charter Storm of 25th October 1859, it was repaired and used at high tide by steam ships until 1875.
The present pier was designed by architect Charles Henry Driver (1832-1900) and civil engineers James William Brunlees (1816-92, knighted 1886) and Alexander McKerrow (1837-1920) for the Llandudno Pier Company Ltd. The company was incorporated in November 1875 with a capital of £30,000 and the pierís first pile was driven on 10th July 1876.
The main pier is 376.1m long, ending at a pier head, fan shaped in plan. Its timber deck is carried on a frame of wrought iron lattice girders supported on cast iron columns. The deck is generally 7.6m wide, with five wider recesses on each side for kiosks. The pierhead is up to 18.3m wide and originally had two hexagonal pavilions.
Llandudno Pier opened to visitors on 1st August 1877, before its completion on 12th September 1877. The pierhead buildings opened in October 1877. It cost £16,831 to construct.
In 1883-4, the pier was extended at the shore end, skirting the seaward side of Happy Valley Road, to bring its entrance closer to the town centre. The substantial addition, 323.4m long and 11m wide, is largely constructed of cast iron column and wrought iron lattice girders, and is partly located on land reclaimed by the building of a new stone retaining wall.
A new pier pavilion was constructed on the reclaimed land. It was fronted by a veranda, with a projecting gable in the centre and recessed wings with apsidal ends. The basement accommodated what was at the time the largest indoor swimming pool in Britain.
In 1889, a private electricity generating station was constructed to light the pier and shore pavilion. It contained an Edison-Swan United Electric Lighting Company generator costing £1,116. The generator was replaced in 1907 by what was claimed to be one of the largest such private installations in the country.
A steam ship landing stage was built adjacent to the pierhead in 1891, of similar construction to the main pier. In 1904, the landing stage was reinforced. The following year, a large eight-sided central pavilion was constructed on the pierhead.
In January 1907, the pier was damaged when an Irish schooner crashed into it during a storm. Repairs were carried out and completed by the end of April 1908. Further works to the pier and landing stage were carried out in the 1930s.
On 1st January 1968, Trust Houses Forte Ltd acquired the Llandudno Pier Companyís shares. In 1969, the landing stage was replaced by a steel and reinforced concrete structure, enabling Isle of Man steamers to dock at the pierhead. The pier was awarded Grade II* listed status the same year.
In the 1970s, a programme of repairs was undertaken to replace corroded lattice girders with castellated steel beams. In 1984-5, further works costing some £70,000 were carried out. On 13th February 1994, the shore pavilion was destroyed in a fire. It was subsequently demolished and has not been rebuilt.
Having passed through a succession of public companies, in May 2015, Llandudno Pier was sold for £4.5m to local entrepreneur Adam Williams who described it as "the best pier in the UK". It is often regarded as the finest surviving example of a Victorian pier in Britain.
Architect: Charles Henry Driver
Resident engineer: H. Neal
Contactor: John Dixon, London
Ironwork: Skerne Ironworks, Darlington
Ironwork: Walter Macfarlane, Glasgow
Ironwork: Elmbank Foundry, Glasgow
Research: PD, ECPK
"Piers of Wales" by Martin Easdown, Amberley Publishing Ltd, Stroud, 2013
reference sources   CEH WalesSurvSPSPd

Llandudno Pier