Penarth Pier, Wales

The pier opened on the 4th February, 1895, and had a promenade, a landing jetty for the popular steamship trade in the Bristol Channel and a small concert theatre at the seaward end.

During the First World War, the pier was the base for steamships to act as minesweepers. By the end of the war the pier was standing, but in poor condition.

The iconic Art Deco pavilion was built in 1930.  It held a range of events, although as it was built without heating, unsurprisingly they were less than successful during the winter months.

Between the Wars the pier was used as a venue for plays, concerts, lectures, films and dances.  The Marina Ballroom was a great success and hosted dances right up to the start of the second World War, and even opened for a few during the War.  It reopened in 1946.

Paddle steamers started to return after the war, although in May 1947, the Canadian merchant ship, Port Royal Park crashed into the pier during a gale, closing it for two years. Much later in 1960 the paddle steamer Bristol Queen also collided with the pier, causing serious damage.

It was a popular music venue the 1950s and 1960s staging acts like Tom Jones, Petula Clark and Gene Vincent.

The operation of a regular paddle steamer service from the pier ceased in 1966, however two ships, the MV Balmoral and PS Waverley, run by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, have continued to provide occasional pleasure cruises, calling at the pier to this day.

An extensive refurbishment project was finished in 2013, bringing the interior up to a high standard and cladding the outside in zinc tiles to replace the dilapidated paint that covered four domes and barrel roof.

The Impressionist artist, Alfred Sisley painted about 19 seascapes during his 1897 visit to Penarth and the Gower coast.  He and his partner were married at Cardiff Town Hall on 5th August of that year.  It is thought that they went there to get married, ‘quietly’ to secure their children’s inheritance.

On 16th July he wrote “I have been here for a week … The countryside is very pretty and the roads with the big ships sailing into and out of Cardiff, is superb … I don’t know how long I shall stay at Penarth.  I am very comfortable here, in lodgings with some very decent folk. The climate is very mild, and has indeed been too hot these last few days, especially now as I write.  I hope to make good use of what I see around me and to return to Moret in October, or thereabouts”.

Painting of Penarth Pier