Monday, 26 October 2009

From Far & Wide...

I was just taking a look at the Statistics for the Blog and was pleased to see it's been attracting visitors from not just across the UK, but from all over the World. And not just from a wide range of individuals, what a wide range of organisations too. Employees of the BBC, Trinity Mirror Group, The Guardian, Oxford University, University of Wales, Conwy County Council, Anglesey County Council, Denbighshire County Council....the list goes on and on.

Of particular interest to visitors seems to be the Curious Case of Beatrice Blore-Browne - she figures very highly in the Google searches that bring people to the Blog. Unfortunately, I've come to a bit of a dead end as regards researching her, with several elements to her life still remaining a mystery. If anyone can fill in any of the blanks (or has a photo), please get in touch!

Also attracting high numbers of visitors are the articles on the late lamented Pier Pavilion, Llandudno and professional performance diver Professor Walter Beaumont.

I'm thrilled that the Blog seems to be appreciated - thanks to you all for visiting!

End of the Pier Show

With the nights drawing in now, I popped up to the end of the Pier in Llandudno to take this shot of the illuminated Pierhead Pavilion:

End of the Pier Show by you.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

In Memory of Ginger

In Memory Of Ginger by you.
"In memory of Ginger, a cat who lived in these gardens and was
admired by so many, 1970 - 1982"
(Photo Credit)
When walking through the Haulfre Gardens park in Llandudno, I always pause for a second at this plaque (it's in the shrubbery across the path from Haulfre Cottage if you ever want to see it) and think what a nice gesture it was of someone to chip in for a memorial to this cat.


Those of us taking a stroll along the West Shore, Llandudno, this morning to get some fresh air got a little more than they bargained for....sand....and lots of it!

The strong Westerly winds were whipping up the sand from the beach and depositing it neatly into the pond around the Alice Statue and the Yachting Pond. Looking at it, it seems as though it is the breakwater opposite the site of the Penmorfa Hotel that is to blame - it encourages the dry sand to build up behind it, ready to be blown over the sea wall whenever the wind picks up.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Civic Pride

Townscape by you.
Wales' Leading Seaside Resort (Photo Credit)

One thing that seems to have disappeared from local towns to a great degree since the creation of the vast behemoth known as Conwy County Borough Council is Civic Pride. It's not a deliberate policy, of course, more a natural result of creating such a vast organisation that has to look after a significant part of North Wales (an area of 1,130 km² and 117,000 people).

What is Civic Pride and why is it important?

Civic Pride can be defined as 'taking a pride in your town' and ensuring it is looking its best. In an area that depends heavily upon Tourism, high standards of presentation in public areas are vital in order to both attract visitors and encourage them to visit again. I'm talking about things like public parks, flower displays, clean, tidy & well maintained streets, public toilets, car parking facilities etc.

Yet, all too often, these are the things that are not done properly locally. Take Llandudno, for instance. Wales' leading seaside resort. The principal town in Conwy County.

Yet, I can't walk down the main street without having to dodge a whole legion of cracked and broken paving stones. The street lighting at night is poor - old floodlights dating back to the 1970s, whilst the original Victorian street lamps stand unused. The flower displays seem to get reduced every year - whole sections of bedding plant displays on the Promenade have been grassed over last year, whilst the once famous LLANDUDNO display in Happy Valley has been filled in with concrete! Railings which were carefully installed back in 2000 as part of the renovation of North Western Gardens have not received a lick of paint since. Street trees are removed and not replaced. Public benches are allowed to get so rotten that a local Estate Agent has to write to the North Wales Weekly News in order to get something done about them. Street nameplates are rusting and unpainted. The only Public Toilets on the Promenade (Happy Valley Road) have been closed for several years...I could go on and on.

Let me say this very clearly....these are false economies to make. With its natural and architectural features, Llandudno has a head start over many seaside resorts. However, we squander this advantage at our peril. People these days are choosier than ever; they will not hesitate to go elsewhere if we do not live up to their standards. The annoying thing about it all is that most of the issues I have mentioned would not cost millions to resolve - they are all things that should just be done on an everyday basis as part of the maintenance of an attractive seaside town.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Princes Theatre, Llandudno - Then & Now

Not that many people are aware that the premises of HMV in Mostyn Street was originally built as the St. George's Hall (later the Princes Theatre) back in 1864.

St. George's Hall

If you take a look at this Then & Now photo, you can see the left hand side of the HMV shop and how it used to look in its Princes Theatre days:

By the 1920s, its glory days as a theatre were long over and it had become a cinema called the
New Princes Theatre.

It finally closed sometime in the 1960s, when the ground floor frontage was ripped out and converted to a shop, the
Maypole. Later, it became a Liptons supermarket (with a cafe on the first floor), then FarmFoods, then Lo-Cost. Finally, in 2004, the building was refurbished and a more sympathetic shopfront added when it became a branch of the HMV music retailer.

You can still see a domed ceiling through the first floor windows, if you look carefully. And I recall a member on the Llandudno forum saying that he once came across the old Princes Theatre sign dumped in a quarry up by Nant Y Gamar woods!

St. Georges Hall/Princes Theatre in 2009

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

That's the way to do it.....

In the local area, we tend to associate the traditional seaside favourite Punch & Judy and the name Codman with Llandudno. However, Colwyn Bay also had a strong Punch & Judy tradition for several decades, with the last 'Professor' being Bert Codman, ably assisted in the performance by his dog Toby:

Professor Bert Codman & Toby

Professor Codman's pitch was on the Eirias Park side of Colwyn Bay Pier, by where the refreshment kiosk is now:

Toby the Dog played a part in every performance

Unfortunately, this all came to a sad end in December 1969. "Professor" Bert Codman and his little dog TOBY, died within two days of each other after entertaining thousands of children over the years. Bert had bought the little mongrel dog for 7 shillings and sixpence in a Liverpool market 20 years before (and Toby was actually a girl!). Toby was run over and Bert died heartbroken two days later in Abergele hospital. The idea was mooted of putting a small memorial plaque to Bert and Toby on the promenade wall, but local councillors refused permission.

And so the Punch & Judy tradition at Colwyn Bay ended...

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Happy Valley, Llandudno

One of my favourite spots in Llandudno is Happy Valley:

The Great Lawn at Happy Valley (Photo Credit)

Looking down at the lower part of Happy Valley (Photo Credit)

Situated on the lower slopes of the Great Orme overlooking Llandudno Bay, it was originally called Y Fach and contained a Limestone quarry. The quarry was where Elephants Cave is now, indeed the cave is mainly man-made as a result of the quarrying work. The lower area of Happy Valley (where the Great Lawn is now) was already in use for public entertainments by the late 1850s, as it was in 1855 that the daughter of a Mr. C. R. Hall first coined the phrase 'Happy Valley' to describe the area. At this time, Archery contests were the most favoured pursuit.

The Quarry was closed in 1887 by local landowner Lord Mostyn and the area was landscaped and then donated to the town to make the 50th Jubilee of Queen Victoria's reign. Happy Valley was described as "a charming natural amphitheatre on the slopes of the Great Orme's Head, where a large concourse of pleasure seekers meet daily during the season".

The official opening was in August 1890 by the Third Baron Mostyn and Mr. Elias Jones, Chairman of the Llandudno Improvement Commissioners. The occasion was marked by the unveiling of the Drinking Fountain, which was been donated by Lady Augusta Mostyn:

Queen Victoria Drinking Fountain (Photo Credit)

By the 1930s, the rock gardens (developed at the rear part of the Happy Valley) had over 2,000 species of plants within them and have continued to be a major attraction in the town:

Rock Gardens in Happy Valley (Photo Credit)

Summer Flowers in the Rock Gardens at Happy Valley (Photo Credit)

There's also a series of carved Alice In Wonderland themed wood sculptures, created for the £500,000 Heritage Lottery Fund funded refurbishment of Happy Valley in 2000:

A grinning Cheshire Cat sculpture (Photo Credit)

Twin Thrones for the King & Queen of Hearts (Photo Credit)

A refreshing coffee or light meal is available during the warmer months from the Happy Valley Cafeteria. On a warm, sunny Summer afternoon, it's a great place to sit and relax:

Happy Valley Cafeteria (Photo Credit)

Looking across Happy Valley from the Cafeteria (Photo Credit)

Happy Valley also houses the lower Cable Car Station, a golf putting course, public toilets and is the main access up to Ski Llandudno ( a dry ski slope and toboggan run).

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