The foundations of the Esplanade were first laid in the early 1880s using the rocks cut out of the cliff during the construction of Cliff Hill.
It was originally 36 feet wide and gave access to the beach via ramps at either end and flights of wooden steps along its length. It proved extremely popular and visitor numbers increased dramatically so that by 1910 it was becoming dangerously congested especially at holiday times and plans were drawn up to widen it by extending over the foreshore.

However the oubreak of war meant that these plans were not implemented until the mid 1920s when the Esplanade was widened to 60 feet and a new curved sea wall constructed. New railings were also erected and new seats installed and the Esplanade was finally formally re-opened with much pomp and ceremony on Empire Day May 24th 1928.

Development of the buildings on the Esplanade proceeded throughout the ensuing years not all of them meeting with universal approval particularly the large blocks of flats that completely changed the seafront skyline.

But in 1987 the Esplanade pavement began to crack and it was discovered that the concrete in the sea wall was disintegrating. After much hand-wringing by the Vale council (and typically not much else) the position was rescued by the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation who funded the complete restoration and refurbishment of the Esplanade.

A period of relative neglect followed with the Esplanade suffering badly from the Vale Council's strategy of what can only be described as masterly inactivity. The one-way traffic system was never properly finished the railings and the original tall graceful lamp standards were allowed to corrode badly a lack of engagement with the owners and erstwhile developers of the Beachcliff building resulted in its continuing deterioration and the paving on the restaurant side of the road became very poor.

One major improvement was the restoration of the exterior of the Pier Pavilion building a major project completed in the final months of 2006. This work made an enormous difference to the appearance of the building and transformed it from a sad dilapidated monument to poor management back into something Penarth could once again be proud of.
However by 2009 the paint on the exterior had started peeling badly and the buliding was again looking dilapidated.
 
An exciting new initiative launched by Penarth Arts & Crafts Ltd (PACL) to restore the interior of this beautiful landmark and create an innovative flexible and environmentally sound attraction for South Wales unfortunately failed in its first attempt to obtain lottery funding but a revised scheme was submitted and in 2009 a grant of 99 600 was obtained for the detailed preparation of a larger multi-million pound grant application which itself was eventually successful.
Further details on the Pavilion project can be found on the Penarth Pier webpage.

Other elements of the Esplanade were also greatly improved. Following correspondence between the Society and Mr Miles Punter the Vale Head of Visible Services the beautiful ornate lamp pillars on the Esplanade were expertly restored. These lamp pillars date from the 1920s and were manufactured by Mackenzie & Moncur Ltd of Edinburgh and Walter Macfarlane & Co of Glasgow. New waste bins matching the colour scheme of the lamp pillars and of a sturdier and altogether more sympathetic design were installed at more frequent intervals along the Esplanade. The promenade railings were repainted and almost the whole of the pavement on the restaurant side of the road was re-laid with new paving slabs.

Also in 2009 the Seacot Hotel was taken over by the proprietors of the very successful Mediterraneo restaurant and renamed initially as the Waters Edge and later as the Pier and the Pebble and the Italian Shelter was acquired for the development of a new restaurant called the Fig Tree. In 2011, the Mediterraneo changed ownership to become Romeos by the Sea and in 2012 the Pier & The Pebble also changed ownership and became the Pier Hotel & Cafe Bar.

The iconic Beachcliff building however which had been covered in hideous protective green netting for over 6 years remained in a sad and dilapidated condition but a new project to restore the building providing luxury flats and a gymnasium to replace Chandlers pub received planning approval. It was hoped that work would commence in late 2009 but by January 2010 very little had been done prompting the Vale Council to threaten legal action if the development did not start quickly. By 2012, most of the building had been demolished leaving just the skeletons of the two towers at either end of the building. After several stops and starts work eventually restarted in early 2013.

The Esplanade is Penarth's jewel in the crown and we look forward to the revitalisation of Beachcliff and the Pier Pavilion to complete the restoration of this unique seafront amenity.