Aberystwyth Pier, known as the Royal Pier or the Promenade Pier, Marine Terrace, Mid-Wales. One of the early piers designed by the pier engineer Eugenius Birch (1818-1884), with the contractor John Dowson, this Grade II listed pier was the first one in Wales to have been built solely as a pleasure pier (as against a landing-stage). The National Piers Society gives the facts and figures: it "cost £13,600 and opened on Good Friday 1865, the same day as the town’s railway station. Constructed of braced iron piles and columns and built on rock, it was 243.8m (800 ft) long x 6.1m (20ft) wide, leading to a 36.6m (120ft)-wide pier head." Not as highly listed as two other piers in north Wales, LLandudno and Bangor, this one is most notable for its pier-head pavilion, added in 1896. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

View of Aberystwyth seafront and bay with the pier taken to the right, taken from a little way up Constitution Hill (where the cliff railway runs). On the point at the far right is the town's war memorial.

Piers are prone to storm damage, and this one has been no exception. Its appearance has changed considerably over the years: it is now only 91 m (300ft) long, while, as indicated above, the less vulnerable shoreward end facilities have become its main feature. Following a restoration, a refreshment room, bandstand and aviary were added in the 1870s, then, a little over twenty years later an imposing "Gothic-style glass domed entrance pavilion" was built to the design of the engineer George Croydon Marks (1858-1938), as part of a "Victorian seaside package" that included the Hotel Cambria and the cliff railway (Lloyd et al. 94). It was planned to accommodate 2,000 people or so, at a cost of £8,000, ("Aberystwyth Royal"). According to the Coflein records, substructure was added at this time too. The new pavilion was opened by the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra on 26 June 1896 — hence one of the pier's alternative names.

The promise of the pier's present owners, Revgate Aberystwyth Ltd, is very encouraging — to "take into consideration the pier as it was when it was opened in 1865, restoring the entrance sympathetically, returning it to its former glory” ("Aberystwyth Royal").

Photographs and captions by Colin Price, and commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


" Aberystwyth Royal." National Piers Society. Web. 30 June 2020.

"Royal Pier and Pavilion, Aberystwyth." Coflein. Web. 30 June 2020.

Lloyd, Thomas, Julian Orbach and Robert Scourfield. The Buildings of Wales: Carmarthenshire and Ceridigion. Pevsner Architectural Guide. New York: Yale University Press, 2006.

"Pier and Pavilion." British Listed Buildings. Web. 30 June 2020.

Created 30 June 2020