Monday, 30 August 2010

Bank Holiday Monday

The August Bank Holiday was probably the busiest day of the Season here in Llandudno, the town centre, promenade and pier were absolutely jam packed with people. Good to see everyone enjoying themselves and all the town's traders doing well.

Llandudno Bay Today (Photo Credit)

A very busy Pier (Photo Credit)

Llandudno Promenade (Photo Credit)

Monday, 23 August 2010

Pier Pavilion Saga Rumbles On...

Another front page story in the North Wales Weekly News last week, about the continued failure of, well, anything to be done about the derelict site of the former Pier Pavilion Theatre on the front in Llandudno.

In case we need reminding, it is now sixteen years since the devastating fire that destroyed the iconic Grade II Listed Building. In that period, how many times have we heard of a breakthrough in progress with redeveloping the festering eyesore of a site - yet nothing has ever happened! At one point, the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) offered to use their Compulsory Purchase Powers but Conwy Council declined their offer!

Make no mistake, this is a landmark site in the resort of Llandudno and the only site of any size on the Promenade that would be suitable for the mixed use, all-weather leisure development that the town really needs (yes, it does rain in Wales occasionally!). The current owner, the ever elusive David Taylor of Worcester, seems to be dreaming of a 10 storey high apartment block on the site, netting him many millions of pounds profit. Sorry, Mr. Taylor, but it's never going to happen!

Unless Mr. Taylor accepts that residential development will never happen and sells the site to a Leisure Developer, then the only way forward is for CCBC/Welsh Assembly Government to carry out a Compulsory Purchase of the site and then pass it on to a Developer in order to recoup their money. As a Compulsory Purchase is carried out at a 'fair value', the price would reflect its current planning status as a leisure site and not some 'pie in the sky' residential site value. Thus, it would be a viable (not to say attractive) site for developers.

In conclusion, Llandudno would gain the all-weather attraction(s) that it desperately needs, jobs would be created for locals, taxes would be generated. for the of all, a sixteen year old embarrassment to the town removed once and for all!

The Glory Days... (Photo Credit)

Sixteen years of a derelict eyesore! (Photo Credit)

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Foresters Arms, Gyffin

Foresters Arms, Gyffin in 1901

A reader of the blog contacted me after seeing my post about the Pubs of Conwy and kindly supplied an old photo of the Foresters Arms on Llanrwst Road in Gyffin, Conwy which, back in 1901, was run by her Grandparents, William and Charlotte Olive (nee Davies) Roberts, they also had a daughter called Olive. If anyone has any more information about the Roberts family at the Foresters Arms, in the early 1900s, please do leave a comment or email me and I will pass it on.

Writing this post reminded me of a story in a local guidebook about the Foresters Arms, namely that it was permanently shut down as a result of being the only Pub in Britain to open on the day of Queen Victoria's funeral in 1901. However, this appears to be nothing more than an 'old wives tale', as it stayed open until 1903.

I also remembered that I had taken a photo of a gravestone in the Churchyard at Gyffin, so I dug that out and it read that Elizabeth Williams, of the Foresters Arms, Gyffin, had died in 1899 at the age of 73. Could the Roberts family have taken over the pub then?

Nowadays, the Foresters Arms is a private house. Have a StreetView look at it if you like by clicking here.

Update - November 2010: Here is the Foresters Arms in 2010. The lady in the 2010 photo is the Grand daughter of the Couple in the 1901 photo:

Foresters Arms in 2010

Monday, 9 August 2010

Pleased as Punch!

I received a very unusual Wedding Invitation the other day:

"Britain's oldest Punch and Judy celebrate 150 years this year and despite their ups and downs and trials and tribulations, love has finally conquered all. Punch has finally declared his intent to marry his one true love, Judy on Thursday 5 August 2010 at 10am. To celebrate 150 years as Britain’s most loved and outrageous couple, Visit Llandudno is hosting the wedding of the century at the smallest church in the UK, St. Trillo’s Chapel in Rhos-On-Sea.

Professor Codman’s Punch and Judy show has been performed on Llandudno pier since 1860 by the Codman family and to this day, creator Richard Codman’s great great grandson, Jason performs the show daily from March to September. Four generations of Codmans have performed the show to Royalty including Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra, King Edward VII and the Prince of Wales, who would later become King George V as well as millions of visitors to North Wales."

Some photos (not taken by myself) of the happy event:

Of course, there is a also a video of their big day available:

Let's hope that the happy Couple have many more years of perfect bliss together....

The Wedding of Punch & Judy was arranged on behalf of Visit Llandudno by WeberShandwick .

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Bodlondeb Castle

Bodlondeb Castle in June 2006 (Photo Credit)

Bodlondeb Castle
(situated next to the Tram Station on Church Walks) is one of Llandudno's more ornate buildings,
being a castellated building built in the Scottish Baronial style. Its interior contains several fine stained glass windows, together with many examples of Italian craftsmanship reflecting the baroque period including a baronial hall, translucent marble pillars and a magnificent staircase together with gothic masonry.

Work started on its construction in 1898 (the site formerly housed the Victoria Gardens) but the story behind its construction is somewhat unusual....

In 1897 , a very wealthy guest at the St. George's Hotel (who wished to remain anonymous) was so taken with the delights of Llandudno that he instructed the Hotel's Manager, Mr. Thomas Davies, to build a residence for him in the town. The guest's only wish was that the finest materials be used in its construction. Mr. Davies was happy to comply with this and, besides engaging the local builders, Jones & Son, also arranged for Italian craftsmen to come over to work on the decorative elements such as the marble columns in the main hallway. The stained glass windows in the main rooms represented the coats of arms of the heads of the fifteen tribes of North Wales.

Main Hallway & Lounge after Restoration in 2006 (Photo Credit)

Mr. Davies was very pleased with the standard of the construction and felt that his client would be too. The day came when the wealthy client returned to Llandudno to view his new residence. The client viewed the exterior of the property, then looked around and asked 'where is the land?' Upon being told that there was no land associated with the property other than a very small garden, he declared that he was no longer interested, turned around and left, never to return!

Local rumour once had it that the wealthy guest was none other than Edward the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII).

The property then remained in the Davies family until 1931, when they sold it to the Methodist Holiday Homes Ltd, who opened it as a Methodist hotel and it remained as such for many years. The Chapel building (now cottages) at the rear of the Bodlondeb Castle, Caer Salem, closed in 1934 and was purchased by the Methodist Holiday Homes to form an annexe to the hotel. During World War II, around 30-40 Civil Servants were billeted in the hotel, although it also managed to remain open for guests. In 1954, a set of modern garages were built and a Games Room was added above the garages in 1967.

Sadly, business began to decline sharply during the early years of the 21st century, with the occupancy rate for the 20 bedrooms falling to 32%. It closed in 2005 after being on the market with a firm of specialist commercial agents for 18 months, but no firm offers approaching the £650,000 asking price were received. It was purchased by Norwest Developments/Beck Homes, who announced plans to restore the building and convert it into 8 luxury apartments. Work started in late 2005 and great care was taken to restore the original features of the building, whilst removing later additions, such as the garages and games room.

Renovation work begins - June 2005 (Photo Credit)

Work on the renovation/conversion was complete by Summer 2006 and the first residents began to move in. I imagine they were somewhat happier with their new residence than that original wealthy hotel guest who refused point blank to accept his new home...

August 2006 - Work is complete! (Photo Credit)

Looking up at Bodlondeb Castle - November 2006 (Photo Credit)

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