Penarth Pier stands at the junction of Beach Road and The Esplanade in the Welsh seaside town, a couple of miles south of Cardiff. The original pier was designed by H F Edwards and construction began at the beginning of 1894, before its official opening on 4 February 1895.
The original pier was fairly simple in form, with a wider landward section, a narrow pier neck, a wider central section housing two shelter structures, and a further narrower section leading to a wider pier head. The pier had a pavilion at its head and two ornamental toll houses, with adjoining small shops, at the landward end.
In 1926 the owners of Penarth Pier set about making improvements to the structure. The first stage saw the construction of a concrete landing stage at the pier head, allowing steam ships to call at the pier for pleasure trips.
The original toll houses and shops were demolished and a much larger shore-end pavilion building was constructed from concrete. To allow the construction of the new pier pavilion the shore end was widened by the firm of Messrs MacDonald of Avergavenney, to incorporate a supporting concrete frame. The pavilion itself was built by Messrs E J Smith of Cardiff.
Designed by M F Edwards, the pavilion adopted the fashionable Art Deco style, with Mughal architectural influences. The most famous example of a building from the Mughal empire period is the Taj Mahal palace at Agra, India.
The form of the pavilion is of an elongated rectangular block extending along the shore-end of the pier. There are distinctive three-storey towers at each corner of the main block, each topped with an onion-style dome and ornamental finial. The domed roofs of each tower have deeply overhanging eaves, with distinctive, large dentil mouldings beneath. The upper storey of the towers feature pierced diamond-shaped latticework, with small rectangular leaded windows beneath on each storey.
The main facade of the pavilion features a curved portico entrance, with classical-style columns supporting a pediment, which forms a first storey balcony. On the first floor a rounded bay opens out on to the balcony, with access via three sets of doors. Railings have been added to the balcony's low parapet for safety, but these were not part of the original design.
The body of the pavilion is eleven bays deep and features a double-height barrel vaulted roof with distinctive ribs. surmounted by a continuous ridge incorporating ventilation slots. Along each side the roof has four double-height dormer windows.
On either side of the main block facing the main road are single storey wings with pitched roofs. Today, these house small shop units. Each wing curves round to terminate with an outer pavilion, with the inner section of each wing set behind classical style columns. Sets of gates provide access either side of the pavilion to the pier deck behind.
Between October 2012 and December 2013 the pier and pavilion underwent a restoration costing over £250,000. The most notable change following the restoration was the addition of zinc cladding to the roofs of the pavilion and wings. Over time the original glazing has largely been replaced. This is particularly noticeable on the wings which have had larger windows added with incongruous security shutters and awnings. The illustration above shows the pier pavilion with its original roofing and glazing, based on period photographs.
The pier, including the pavilion, was awarded Grade II-listed status on 4 November 1975.
Posted by Richard Coltman on Monday, October 2, 2017