The coaling station (known locally as the Cais do Carvão, or coal quay) was built in 1903 to provide fuel not only to local businesses but also to the increasing number of steam ships crossing the Atlantic.
Funchal was in notional competition with suppliers in Las Palmas in the Canaries and São Vicente in Cape Verde, but there are suggestions that there were arrangements between the various firms in the market to "harmonise" pricing.
While coal was still very much in demand up until the second world war, its increasing substitution for oil meant the inevitable decline of the "Pier Wilson" (it was built by Wilson & Co., Ltd.).
After a period of dereliction, renovations carried out by the Funchal City Council have provided an educational experience for visitors as well as a space for hosting events and entertainment.
The coaling station can be accessed via the Passeio Público Marítimo and is just to the west of the Marine Biology Station.