This pier opened in February 1895. The cast-iron structure, with timber decking, was engineered by HF Edwards. At the time there was a strong seasonal movement of people on steamships across the Bristol Channel, between industrial South Wales and the resorts of Somerset and north Devon. To enable steamers to call at Penarth, a substantial tiered landing jetty was built at the end of the pier. The difference between high and low tide is greater along the Bristol Channel than anywhere else in the world except the Bay of Fundy, Canada.
Buildings were added to the pier to enhance its role as an attraction in its own right. They included the 1920s Pier Pavilion. In 1931 a fire destroyed some of the buildings and decking and damaged some of the girders.
In 1947 the pier’s seaward end was damaged when gales blew a 7,000-ton ship against the structure, which reopened in 1950 after repairs and reinforcements costing £28,000. In 1966 the pleasure steamer PS Bristol Queen hit and damaged the pier while approaching in fog.
Penarth Pier is now owned by Vale of Glamorgan Council. In the 1990s some £3.5m was spent on the pier in a series of refurbishment projects, with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and others.
Commercial pleasure cruises across the Bristol Channel ended in 1981 but the last ship, MV Balmoral, was later bought by the charity which operates PS Waverley, the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer. Now both ships provide day trips from Penarth during the summer to Ilfracombe, Minehead, Lundy Island and other places. Shorter cruises, for example around the Holm islands, are also offered.
On the deck of the pier, you may notice brass memorial plaques. Members of the public can commission a plaque in memory of a loved one. Proceeds from this scheme go towards the pier’s upkeep.
Postcode: CF64 3AU