Trail 1 -
1 The Pier
the Esplanade and the Kymin
Walk to the end of the Pier
which was built in 1894. A wooden pavillion
where concert parties played was built here in 1907 but was destroyed
by fire on August Bank Holiday 1931. The tide often goes out beyond
the Pier as the range between high and low tides in the Bristol Channel
is one of the largest in the world. During a fierce gale in May 1947
000 ton Port Royal Park went broadside into the pier
causing damage that took two years to mend.
Turn to face the seafront. On your extreme left is Lavernock Point
the southern limit of Penarth Bay. Rising to about 200 feet on your
right is Penarth Head
the "garth" that allegedly gave Penarth its name.
Around Penarth Head
protected from westerly winds
lie the mouth of the
River Ely and Penarth Dock
now developed as a Marina. The expansion of
the coal trade led to the rapid development of both town and dock in the
second half of the nineteenth century.
To your left
near the slipway at the bottom of Cliff Hill
is a Victorian building with spiralled pillars and a cast iron verandah
balustrade. Now a listed building
this has been the Yacht Club since
The inshore lifeboat was once housed beneath the Beach Shelter
the flat-roofed pavillion nearer
to you on your left
but now has its own building at the north end of
the Esplanade. Next comes Beachcliff
the Edwardian terrace (1904) with decorative
iron balustrades and a tower at both ends. The lower floors of these
terraced buildings are now restaurants with living accommodation above. Almost ahead of you is a block of flats known as Windsor
built in 1963 on the site of Balcony Villa and Rock Villa. It is
deliberately free from the ornamentation the Victorians loved but the
recessed balconies give a pattern of light and shade.
To the right is another Victorian
building which for a century housed the swimming baths but has now
been converted into luxury houses. It is built
of local blue lias stone with carved bathstone window surrounds and
Next to it is the modern development on the site of the 1887
badly damaged by fire in 1977. Until 1905 a ferry went
across the mouth of the Taff to Cardiff Docks from a movable landing
stage in front of these buildings.
to the right is Seabank Flats and
in the trees above the multi-storey
an 1870s houses owned by the Town Council with
grounds recently landscaped for public use.
you return to the Esplanade
notice the fan designs and border patterns
on the Pier's cast iron railing and the Esplanade's original lamp standards
between the Pier and the Yacht Club. There was no continuous sea wall
in the nineteenth century; the promenade was built in 1883 and widened
by twenty feet in 1927.
2 Windsor Gardens
Leave the Pier
cross the Esplanade
turn left in front of Windsor
Court and walk on past the restaurants and Beach Shelter. You can now see the Italian
Gardens laid out in 1926 on the site of a building once used for storing
bathing machines. Walk up the steps
turn right and walk out through
the garden wall past the large fig tree
climb the metal steps
(2) to the flat roof and continue up the flight of concrete steps
by the Penarth Civic Society
into Windsor Gardens. Turn left
the bandstand and cross the path into the continuation of the Gardens
laid out in 1884. On your right are the modern houses off Marine Parade
built in the gardens of the Victorian residences of coal owners and
ship owners and others whose prosperity was linked with Penarth Dock.
As you leave Windsor Gardens pass the Lodge where visitors had to pay
an admission charge until 1932 when the earl of Plymouth gave the grounds
to the public.
3 Flat Holm and Steep Holm
Pause on the pavement of the main road.
(3) From the opposite side of Cliff
a coastal path continues along the eroding cliffs to Lavernock
Point. The two islands in the Channel
Flat Holm and Steep Holm
have Viking associations. The nearer Flat Holm is a nature reserve and
gull colony. Part of the City and County of Cardiff
it has been farmed
for at least seven hundred years. The lighthouse was established in
1737. There is a ruined nineteenth-century cholera hospital and a barracks
that was used during the last war by coastal defence artillerymen. In
May 1897 Marconi achieved his first radio transmission over water when
his Morse message
"Are you ready?" was transmitted from Flat
Holm and received by an 110-foot mast on the farm at Lavernock
Point. A commemorative plaque can be seen there in the front wall of
St Lawrence's Church.
4 Portland Close
Continue on the pavement round the corner towards the junction of Marine
Parade and Alberta Road.
(4) Here you will find a Victorian seat
and fire hydrant. Over the wall you will see the yellow facing bricks
of Portland Close
a development that won a Welsh Housing Design Award
in 1983. It stands on what was the orchard of a school run by a Miss
Bate and a Miss Sumner in their house
"St Maeburne" - an
anagram of their two surnames. Some time later paving stones were laid
across the lawn so that children living in the house could lean over
the wall to post letters in the Victorian post box we see today.
5 Plymouth Road
Continue up Alberta Road and cross Plymouth Road into Alberta
Place directly ahead. Plymouth Road is named after the family that owns
much of the land in Penarth. In about a hundred yards you reach a continuous
grassed area which from 1887 until 1968 was the extension of the Cardiff-Penarth
Railway to Barry via Lavernock
Sully and Cadoxton.
(5) There was a halt platform here at Alberta Place. Walk towards the old
turning right just before it to go down Sully Place.
6 Tower Hill
Cross Plymouth Road and walk down Tower Hill between
54 and 56 Plymouth Road. You soon pass on your left Tower House
former Coastguard Station.
(6) The terraced cottages below were built for
the coastguards. Turn left into Marine Parade at the bottom of Tower
turn left again into Holmsdale Place and return to Plymouth Road.
7 Turner House
Turn right and walk up Plymouth Road. The three-storeyed semi-detached
houses are not quite on the scale of Marine Parade but they represent
the spacious stone-built residences of the well-to-do in the 1880s.
Beyond 12 Plymouth Road is Roxburgh Garden Court
built on the site
of James Pyke Thompson's house "Roxburgh".
In 1888 Thompson
built an art gallery on land previously occupied by a the thatched farmhouse
of Taylor's Farm. He named it after the painter J.M. Turner and used
it to house part of his private art collection which was opened to
public view. Turner House Gallery
(7) is now part of the National Museum of
Wales and is administered and operated by Ffotogallery.
Between Turner House and the Glendale Hotel is a path (known locally
as the Dingle) which leads down to the seafront. The adjacent Lansdowne
formerly an hotel
is on the site of a farmhouse owned in 1847
by a William Randal. The Lansdowne block was built in 1886 by Frederick
Speed of Shepton Mallet who also built the 1904 terrace on the Esplanade.
Continue walking up Plymouth Road. The lane running down the
side of the National Westminster Bank once led to the town pound where
in 1635 the vicar of Penarth is said to have had a violent confrontation
with his parishoners.
8 Rectory Road
The next turning point is Rectory Road. On the corner is Penarth
opened in 1905 with a gift of £4
000 from the Carnegie Trust.
On the opposite side of the the main road (Stanwell Road) is Washington
Buildings where once stood Steps Cottage
said to be the only nineteenth-century
cottage in Penarth to have steps leading to its front door. In 1922
Captain W.H. Bevan converted the then Penarth Tutorial College into
which he named the Washington in the hope of attracting American
visitors. In 1936 its tennis courts became a cinema and the present
shops were built around the cinema's car park.
9 Return to the Esplanade
Walk to the end of Rectory Road past Penarth Lawn Tennis Club
founded in 1884. For the town centre roundabout (the starting point
of the Inner Town Trail) turn left into Windsor Terrace. To return to
turn right into Alexandra Park
named in 1902 after the
wife of King Edward VII. Bear right on the higher path
(9) and walk down
through the park on any of several paths
all leading eventually to
the Esplanade where you began your walk.
town trail was produced by the Penarth Society with the support of Penarth Town
Council. The text is based on routes and background material supplied by M.E.
Councillor A.M. Ernest
Miss C.M. Neill
Class 6 of Evenlode Primary
School (1984-5) and Penarth Local History Society in response to a competition
organised by Penarth Town Council.
text was edited by Mavis Linstrum.
copyright © Diana Mead.
formating by Matthew Griffiths.Modified and updated for the Penarth Society Website by