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).


Stan said...

Again an excellent presentation, but tell me, you mention that it was a quarry and originally known as Y Fach. As I understand it the literal translation of Y Fach is "the small" but that doesn't seem to make much sense on its own, so "the small" what?

I was going to ask how it came about being called "The Happy Valley" but I see you have posed this as a quiz question on the Llandudno Local site, so I will wait a little while for the explanation.

Thanks for the pleasure and information your presentations give.

Chameleon said...

Hello Stan,
I've done a bit of digging and it seems as though 'Y Fach' is still the official Welsh name for Happy Valley, even on modern maps. You're quite right, the literal translation is the 'The Small or 'The Little', which doesnt make a lot of sense, unless there was once also a 'Y Mawr' in the area?

The quarry was situated where Elephants Cave is, indeed the Cave itself is mostly manmade, a result of the quarrying work.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this; you've posted some very nice photographs. Visited last week & loved it :)

The "Y Fach" thing might have something to do with the fact that Happy Valley is found on the 'Little' Orme...perhaps the last word was some unpronounceable Welsh word & got dropped by the locals decades ago? Who knows :)

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