Vanished Wales: What happened to Colwyn Bay's Victoria Pier and what's the vision for its future?

Colwyn Bay's Victoria pier was once the queen of the coast. Credit: ITV/Amy Dyke

Pleasure piers from the Victorian era are quintessentially British structures.

Although their numbers are dwindling, the original piers that remain are reminders of the golden age of seaside splendour.

The North Wales town of Colwyn Bay had a real gem of its own.

The Victoria Pier opened in 1900, and stretched 750 feet into the sea.

At its height, the pier was a marvel of the North Wales coast. Credit: Amy Dyke

It was built specifically for leisure and entertainment and boasted a majestic pavilion building.

Disaster struck twice during the first half of the twentieth century, when fire ripped through the pier in both 1922 and 1933.

Renovations and repairs in the 1930s breathed new life into the vast structure and for the next 70 years it remained a cherished landmark on the shores of Colwyn Bay.

The pier pavilion was a much loved entertainment venue. Credit: Amy Dyke

But its days were numbered. The size and scale of the Victoria Pier proved its downfall.  It required constant repair and costly maintenance. 

Footfall had also fallen and the structure had been in slow decline for years.

It was dealt a final blow in 2017, when storm force winds and strong waves casued sections of the pier to collapse into the sea. 

The pier fell into disrepair after closing.

The entire structure was eventually dismantled on safety grounds. It took just a few months to pull down what Victorian optimism had put up, more than a century earlier.

Its cast iron stanchions and railings were stored away, in the hope that one day the Victoria Pier might rise again.

Finally, in 2021 a new pier opened. It was a fraction of its original length, with no pavilion building, but still bore the original and distinctive decorative railings.  

The new pier is a shadow of its former self.

That’s not the end of the story for Colwyn Bay’s pier, though. 

A local group has formed a preservation trust. Its aim is to raise enough support and backing to extend the pier further into the sea, and even to reintroduce a pavilion for the benefit of the local community. 

Since 1900, the fortunes of the Victoria Pier have risen and fallen like the sea. Finally, the tide appears to be turning in its favour.

Watch Vanished Wales, Friday at 7pm on ITV 1 Cymru Wales and on ITVX afterwards.