12 December 2011

The Biarritz of Wales

Aberystwyth is quite a remote town. Cambrian Railways reached it in the 1860s, when it underwent a typical Victorian boom. There's a fine promenade, with the Aberystwyth Electric Cliff Railway (the UK's longest funicular railway) up Constitution Hill at one end, and the harbour at the other.

Otherwise, though, and despite having once been promoted as the Welsh Biarritz, Aber is rather down at heel. It is not a town of impressive sweeps, but has a number of interesting corners and details. Every bench along the promenade boasts curling snakes, and those within the castle stylised sphinxes.

The Royal Pier was one of Eugenius Birch's, opened in 1865 at an original length of 794 feet. Just 299 feet still stand, rather a sorry sight. Many modern pier operators seem to have an unerring ability to ruin the little that remains. Nostalgia is not what it used to be.

No comments: