Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Bangor, North Wales

The small university city of Bangor in the North West corner of Wales was one of many places I researched for a five night accommodation break to combine a mixture of hill walking and tourism.
My eventual chosen location was half way between here and the distant hills in the background.

After the drive along one of my favourite main roads, the North Wales A55 coastal route (particularly the Conwy to Llanfairfechan section), I dropped my luggage off at the bed and breakfast and headed to my local town. As a car driver, the west end of the A55 was a little unfamiliar to me in parts as I was more used to the scenery near all the railway stations particularly during the mid 90's.

This gave me the opportunity of visiting Bangor pier for the first time albeit with a 15 minute period before it closed for the evening.

The Pier was built quite late after the Victorian tourist boom in the 1890's and stretches out into the Menai straits facing the island of Anglesey.

Originally there was a landing stage at the head of the pier from which steam ships took passengers to Liverpool, Blackpool and The Isle of Man. A railway track on the pier for transporting luggage was removed at about the same time that a ship collided ( bad weather conditions) with the pier in 1914 causing a gap. This structural damage took another 7 years to complete the repairs.

The sun was about to set on the pier when it closed the gates in 1971 due to safety concerns and 3 years later it was saved from demolition by a council objection. The road to restoration was a long and torturous one starting with listed building status as one of the top three surviving piers in Britain. Ownership was secured by buying the pier for 1 pence, but restoration funds took another 7 years followed by 6 years spending the money ! The Pier finally re-opened it's gates in May 1988.

Looking up the Menai straits from the Pier

The main and historic building of Bangor University is a prominent part of the city on one side of the valley above the road systems ( including the high street) that track down the valley from the railway station to the seafront. It started in 1884 after donations were given by local quarrymen campaigning for better education in the area for their city and families. The degree qualifications were affiliated with London until it became The University of Wales in 1893.

Famous paintings were initially stored here during the second World War to protect them from German bombings before being transferred to underground slate mines in the nearby mountains. The University has grown in size and so too has the town with the number of students not quite doubling the population.

The name Bangor comes from an ancient Welsh word that refers to a fenced enclosure. Bangor Cathedral now stands on the site of what was that primitive 6th century monastery built by a celtic saint called Deiniol.

The story of Bangor Cathedral is a bleak one as it suffered numerous destructions from English Kings in the post Norman years. Reconstruction after centuries of unrest was completed in 1532 with subsequent work being done in 1824.

Further external work was carried out in the middle of the 19th century with features that we see today.

Although you don't know it yet, I first discovered the Eagle lecturn as a child in the church next door to my Junior school when we sung Carols there at Christmas time. As an object of photographic beauty, I discovered it's merits in Sheffield at the beginning of the year .....  it is rapidly becoming an obsession of mine to photograph these objects in Churches and Cathedrals. The Chester lecturn missed the edit cut and I also have ...... a little secret ...... examples still to publish from Glasgow and Haworth at some quiet moment another time.

With a seat  as hard as this like, I hope there's not more than 5 verses to the Hymn !

The uglier side of Bangor !! ...... watching the seagulls !!
Like most cities and towns, there is a normality behind the facade .... whether that is student life or living in an outpost of Great Britain where employment prospects may not be the best for some. Bangor is more normal than most tourist places as I couldn't even buy a box of souvenir biscuits here.

Arguably ... the longest High Street in Great Britain... it seems to go on forever !
One of the things about this blog and my adventures through certain cities and towns that readers occasionally miss, is the artistic photographic viewpoint I take when all else seems dull and uninteresting. It is my challenge to find something to photograph even if it has to stoop to humour ...

Different kind of busy High Street !!

Balance of money ... Bank, Cash point collection, Big Issue seller ... Nice dog !!

I was left to consider much of nearby Bangor and those less fortunate than myself.... to find themselves imprisoned on Bangor Pier ........

A Chinese Panda holding a Welsh flag ..... a prisoner of thee tourist war !!


  1. I love this photo tour. I spent summers there in the 1960s and 1970s as I had a cousin who lived in Bangor. Thanks for bringing back happy memories. Your photos are always fab, Marian

  2. Another wonderful set. The sunset from the pier is a really good picture....steals the show for me.
    Fiddlers Dram from around 1970 had a hit with 'The Day We Went to Bangor.
    The bridges are well worth a visit.........I must stop avoiding towns...you inspire me once again.

  3. Another lovely series of photos. Bangor seems a nice place for a trip. I would take a stroll on the pier.

  4. I spent two weeks in Wales last summer, but I didn't visit Bangor. Now I'm sure I will have to visit Wales again -soon!
    Superb series:)

  5. First off, I'm happy to hear that the pier was restored. I'm afraid that here, they'd simply demo it and build a new one. Then again, our history only goes back a few years, relatively speaking.

    I think I see a definite pout on the face of that dog in the photo. He can't understand why, in dog-loving Britain, he's not allowed to go out on the pier...and neither can I. What's with that??

    I had to chuckle at the date of the major reconstruction of the Bangor Cathedral. Let's see now...what were we doing in 1532? LOL I've got to visit that cathedral some day.

    And the WWII factoid about the University was fascinating. I love that stuff!

    It's interesting how there's always someone ready to take that nasty gold off your hands...leaving one with ever-growing-more useless cash.

    And now I've got to look up Bangor, Maine, for I bet it was settled by Welsh immigrants! I'd never even thought of that before. Great post!

  6. Such a pretty place! Congrats for the wonderful photos! They really capture the true soul of this place.

  7. It appears that Bangor,small city, has claim to fame - it has the longest high street in the UK .

    Anyway, the story of the pier and that of the university, accompanying your fabulous pictures, are both captivating.
    The sky in some of your above pictures is also captivating.

  8. Really lovely...as always it is like a mini holiday for me while visiting here. I also like the photo on the pier.

  9. I love your photographs! Not sure which one I like better: the pier or the tea kettle sign :)

    Bangor sounds like a lovely little place, and you do a wonderful job of making ordinary subjects look fascinating. Keep up the good work!


  10. Ciao J., what a wonder Bangor, I would like to visit it!
    Have a good evening!

  11. Wonderful photos. I enjoyed the story of the Bangor Cathedral and Bangor University..

  12. Interesting post about Bangor..
    Thank you, J, for sharing with us!!!
    Wish you a very nice weekend!

  13. Those are some seriously great pictures, especially the first one. I like your humor, but don't think you need to feel like you are taking the easy way by adding humor to find an interesting picture. Hope I said that right, but probably what we miss as bloggers sometimes is that readers enjoy seeing the quirky and less attractive things - you know, it makes the pretty pictures loook that much better! But now that I think about it it is interesting the pictures that get responses, sometimes ones I didn't think were good enough to post, yet they show a mood or an atmosphere.

  14. I love the lamp shots and the interior of the cathedral. I'm always interested in the story of how the historic sites came to be preserved; how many of these tourist draws owe their existence to feisty locals?

  15. Such wonderful skies! The whole post is fascinating.


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