North West Wales

Bangor pier: potential £1m shortfall for maintenance work

Garth Pier, Bangor, Gwynedd
The grade-II listed Victorian pier is now just one of six still open in Wales

Wales' second longest pier could face a potential shortfall of £1m for vital maintenance work.

Bangor's Garth Pier should undergo a 25-year overhaul within the next two years.

But because of its location in the protected marine environment of the Menai Strait, it is estimated that the cost of the work could exceed £2m.

Bangor City Council has only about £1m of that cash, and says it will need help to fill the funding gap.

Council clerk Gwyn Hughes said: "The corroded metal needs to be renewed, replaced perhaps.

"It's an extreme marine environment here," he added.

"Corrosion happens, so some of the metal joints need to be treated and renewed, and then all the metalwork underneath needs to be painted.

"It's a major job and it is complicated by the fact that the pier sticks out into the Menai Strait.

"There's a marine nature reserve here, there are also mussel beds. Wildlife needs to be protected."

Discussions with structural engineers have revealed that one option to ensure the environment is safe would involve completely encapsulating the steel structure beneath the pier boardwalk, while work is carried out.

Grant aid

But Mr Hughes confirmed that this route would substantially increase the cost of the scheme, pushing it to about £2m or even more.

The council said it had amassed a fund approaching £1m for the work.

"We have been saving for this for the last 25 years," said Mr Hughes.

"I would doubt whether that pot in itself will be enough, and we will be seeking grant aid from various sources."

The issue has alarmed supporters, who say they are determined to ensure that the future of the pier is safeguarded.

Glenys Pierce has spent the last 14 years running a tourism and information kiosk on the pier and said she remained passionate about the Victorian structure.

"At the end of the day, it needs to be looked after and nurtured, the same you would your own home and garden," she argued.

"Yes, it needs money being spent on it - but the rewards from spending that money are phenomenal.

"It is important for the city, and let's hope that the for the citizens of Bangor, that they too feel the same."

The issue of maintenance costs is the latest event in a long history for the pier.

Decline and disrepair

It was a child of the Victorian era, first opened to the public in 1896, after being built for the sum of £17,000.

But like many of its counterparts scattered across the coastal towns and resorts of Britain, it fell into disrepair, and closed to the public in the 1970s, with the threat of demolition hanging over it.

However, a massive campaign saw the attraction saved, a huge renovation project undertaken, and the pier reopened in its present form in 1988.

Describing the pier as "the jewel in the crown" of the city, Mrs Pierce said she would campaign if necessary to ensure the structure received the costly attention it needs.

She said as far as she was concerned, there would "never, never" be a return to the pier's dark days in the 1970s.

"Here we are in 2012, and it is here still - and it will remain here," she stated.

While Mr Hughes recognised there were murmurs of concern in Bangor, he remained upbeat about the pier's future.

He said the £1m maintenance pot already in place was "good match funding" for approaches to bodies like the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Welsh government.

"I'm sure the authorities in Wales don't want to see the pier deteriorating. It's in good condition now - but you've got to plan ahead," he said.

"I'm fairly confident that we will get funding. I'm confident that the work will be done in the next couple of years."

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