Zooming out into the Irish Sea and reaching an impressive 700 metres out west of the UK shoreline, Llandudno Pier has remained the longest pier in Wales since the completion of its construction in 1877. It is also the fifth longest in Britain. The pier stands out when compared to other entertainment piers in that it has two entrances; quite an unusual construction choice. Between the two entrances stands the Grand Hotel, a favourite destination among many Welsh holiday-goers. The pier itself is a Grade-II Listed Building, and its superstructure is maintained by Six Piers, a Blackpool-based leisure company.
BIGGER IS BETTER
The original pier, built in 1858, was only a modest 70 metres long and was actually constructed simply as a placeholder for the owner’s much grander vision of a major port in Llandudno Bay. Unfortunately, much of the pier was destroyed by the 1859 Royal Charter Storm, which caused the loss of over 200 ships and 800 lives in the nearby British coastal waters. The pier was repaired, but was too short to be of any use to ships except during high tide. The present pier was designed by Glaswegian architect Walter MacFarlane in 1877, and used iron castings to support large wooden beams laid perpendicular to the shore. The landward extension was opened in 1884, giving the pier its unique double-entrance, and in the late 1960s most of the landing stage was rebuilt using steel-reinforced concrete slabs, rendering it usable by the Isle of Man Steamer ships.
THE PIER PAVILION THEATRE
The Llandudno Pier Company’s directors were pleased with their success in opening the pier and looked to expand their business to take advantage of the fast-growing popularity of the town as a seaside resort. Work started in 1881 on a three-storey Victorian-style theatre that could seat over 2,000. This was to be built slightly along the coast but would still be connected to the main pier.
The pavilion, like the pier, also had two entrances, although it is unknown whether or not this was a conscious decision made by the designers during the planning stages. Just before the pavilion’s scheduled opening in 1883, a vicious storm shattered the glass roof, forcing the Llandudno Pier Company to replace it with a much sturdier lead one, which was also much better suited to the typical Welsh climate.
The pavilion finally opened in 1886 and quickly became famous across the country. During its lifetime it has hosted countless top acts, featuring musicians, comedians, and even political conferences.
Towards the end of the 20th century the popularity of the Pavilion had severely declined and the outside of the building fell into disrepair. To add insult to injury it was also the target of an arson attack in 1994 shortly before it was scheduled to be revamped. The attack and ensuing fire ravaged the entire theatre, burning it to a crisp. Sadly, the structure has not been replaced but fortunately the main pier remained unscathed.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Crynierth Caravan Park, Cefn Ddwysarn (Road), Bala
Gwynedd, Wales, LL23 7LN
+44 (0)1678 530 324
- Address: Happy Valley Road, Llandudno, Caernarfonshire, Wales, United Kingdom, LL30 2LP
- GPS: 53.33166667,-3.825
- Phone: 0044 (0)1492 876 258
- Part of UK: Wales
- Sat Nav Postcode: LL30 2LP
- Entrance Fees: Attractions cost to use
- Disabled Access: Very Good
- Visibility from Road: Excellent
- Image Credits: Header Image: Gail Johnson