Site of Victoria Pier, Colwyn Bay

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Site of Victoria Pier, Colwyn Bay

colwyn_bay_pier

The crest of the small hill on Colwyn Bay promenade marks the former entrance to the Victoria Pier.

It was conceived in the late 19th century, when Colwyn Bay wanted to catch up with other towns which had piers where steamers deposited and collected passengers. However, it was found that the proposed pier would have to extend almost 1km (about half a mile) to reach the area where the water was deep enough for ships. This was too costly, so the pier was built purely for entertainments. The councillors saved face by saying this would avoid day trippers arriving by steamer and lowering the tone of Colwyn Bay!

The pier was less than 100 metres long when it opened in 1900. The pavilion had a 2,500-seat theatre, shops and a restaurant. The opening performance featured Adelina Patti, one of the world’s most renowned operatic sopranos in her day.

The pier was extended to 229 metres in length and an additional, 600-seat Bijou Theatre opened in 1916. The pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1922. Its replacement, built in 1923, burned down in 1933. Two months later the same fate befell the Bijou Theatre.

The final pavilion, opened in 1934, incorporated Art Deco features and murals by Eric Ravilious (1903-42) and Mary Adshead (1904-1995). Many of those features were destroyed or obscured in post-war refurbishments. Entertainers who performed at the pier in this period included comedians Ken Dodd and Morecambe & Wise, and singers Harry Secombe and Elvis Costello.

The pier was under threat of demolition at various times from the mid-1980s onwards. It was closed to the public for many years before a large part of the seaward end collapsed during a storm in February 2017. The structure was dismantled in 2018, with main components placed in storage. Nine columns were left in place. The murals were also recovered for possible future restoration.

With thanks to John Lawson-Reay, of Llandudno & Colwyn Bay History Society

Postcode: LL29 8HH    View Location Map

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