Bangor Garth Pier
Garth Point had been a landing stage for ferries from as far back as 1292. It stayed the main crossing point from Anglesey to the mainland up to 1826, when the Menai Bridge was constructed. All this time passengers and cargo would have been transferred from the main ship to the shore in smaller rowing boats, so getting from your ferry to the shore was probably an awkward and wet task.
By the second half of the 19th century, piers were established as a valuable attraction to any seaside resort and although Bangor does not have the beaches to attract holidaymakers, the area does have great natural beauty and a pier would have certainly helped to bring in visitors and revenue to the town.
The man engaged to design the structure had previously designed the pier at Dover and the Garth pier was of similar design. It opened in 1896 with a big ceremony. There was a bandstand on the seaward end and a floating landing stage for ferries. At the land end were two small pavilions with large ornamental gates between them.
It was and still is a most attractive pier. Most of the original design still survives to this day.
The pier was a big success from day one, attracting large numbers of visitors promenading, or attending the wide range of shows, general entertainments and competitions that were popular at the time.
Steamships brought visitors from Liverpool, Llandudno, the Isle of Man and Beaumaris.
The first disaster was in 1914 when a merchant steamer crashed into the pier making a large gap in the structure. Although hastily patched up, it was not properly repaired until 1922, at which time serious structural faults were discovered. In addition to this, the popularity of piers as places of entertainment and travel were in decline, along with their financial viability. By 1930 the pier was in crisis.
As was the case with most piers, the Second World War did it no favours: decking was removed to deter invaders and by the end of the war the pier was in a very sorry state. With no money for restoration, it slowly declined until it had to be closed in 1971, when it very narrowly avoided a decision to demolish it.
Eventually, in October 1982, with financial support from a whole host of organisations, restoration started. The fully restored pier was opened in 1988, but this beautiful building is in constant need of care if it is to still be here for future generations.