THE Vale of Glamorgan is a county borough in Wales, bordering Bridgend, Cardiff, and Rhondda Cynon Taf. With an economy based largely on agriculture and chemicals, it is the southernmost unitary authority in Wales.
Attractions include Barry Island Pleasure Park (widely known through the BBC sitcom, Gavin & Stacey), the Barry Tourist Railway, Porthkerry Park, St Donat’s Castle, Cosmeston Lakes Country Park and Cosmeston Medieval Village. It is also the location of Atlantic College, one of the United World Colleges.
The largest town is Barry. Other towns include Penarth, Llantwit Major and Cowbridge. There are many villages in the county borough.
Below, we throw the spotlight on the seaside town of Penarth.
THE GARDEN BY THE SEA
PENARTH is a wonderful seaside town in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, 5.2 miles south west from the city centre of the Welsh capital city of Cardiff and lying on the north shore of the Severn Estuary at the southern end of Cardiff Bay.
Penarth owes its development to the massive expansion of the local coal industry in the 19th Century. Its proximity to Cardiff, which was the natural outlet for the industrial valleys of Glamorgan, and its waterfront meant that it was ideally situated to meet the world demand for Welsh coal through the construction of the docks. The contract for the building of Penarth Dock was placed in 1859 and the dock was opened six years later in 1865.
Over 200 years ago Penarth was little more than a village, being one of five parishes in the Hundred of Dinas Powys, with a combined population of just over 300.
By 1861 the number of people in the five parishes had increased to 1,898 and to 3,382 by 1871. In 1875 three of the parishes – Penarth, Cogan, and Llandough – were merged into the Penarth Local Board, giving a population of 6,228 persons by 1881. This figure had doubled by 1891 with the opening of the railway and had increased even further by 1901 to 14,228 persons.
The development of the town was rapid and Penarth soon became self-sufficient with its own local government, thriving shopping centre and community facilities. Many of the town’s features owe their origin to the landowners of the time and the results of their vision can be seen by the many fine buildings and parks which make Penarth what it is today. Thanks to the generosity of these landowners, Penarth earned the reputation of ‘The Garden by the Sea’ because of its beautiful parks and open spaces. Furthermore, many of the buildings and features of the town have led to a substantial part being designated as a Conservation Area because of its Victorian/ Edwardian architecture.
Source: Penarth Town Council
‘NOWHERE MORE UPWARDLY MOBILE’
Penarth RFC in league action at the Athletic Field #seasiders #bears #rugby #wales #penarth @Ewegottalove.Wales
WRITING in the The Sunday Times ‘Home’ supplement not so long ago, Tim Palmer described Penarth as once a “staid retirement-friendly Victorian seaside resort”, but now “the landing spot of choice for the glitterati of the Principality”, noting that luminaries like “opera singer Bryn Terfel and footballer Joe Ledley (along with his luxuriant beard) are among those who have moved in”.
The report added that “Young professionals are flocking to enjoy cafe culture that now rivals Cardiff city centre and Penarth has a top-notch secondary school which is a big pull for families – many of whom are moving into the period villas that are steadily being turned back into single dwellings”. Tim Palmer also mentions that Penarth “makes regular appearances on TV shows such as Casualty, Sherlock and Dr Who”.
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“I started my career at the age of 12 working on a Saturday morning in an Italian restaurant in Newport, Chez Chiovanni. After leaving school I took my first full time cooking position at the Cwrt Bleddyn hotel near Usk.
“It was from there, at the age of 16, that I decided to move to Scotland and worked at Farleyer House Hotel under the guidance of Head Chef Richard Lyth, Richard taught me the understanding of seasonality, quality and the essence of flavour.
“Whilst in Scotland I cooked for the opening of the Scottish Parliament and was also shortlisted as Young Scottish Chef of the Year.
“Working in Scotland I met my wife Louise and after marrying and having our first daughter we decided to make the move back to my home country – Wales.
“I started working at the Crown at Whitebrook in August 2000 as Sous Chef and became Head Chef in late 2003. I obtained my first Michelin Star in 2007, an achievement I’m hugely proud of as I’ve come from a non-Michelin background. I retained the coveted Michelin star until 2013 when the ‘Crown’ closed its doors.
“We have been overwhelmed by the support and good wishes we have received since opening on Penarth Esplanade in 2014, we are truly honoured and grateful. Louise and I are determined to make the restaurant and rooms a success.
“We are very proud of our team who have helped us achieve a number of awards – a Michelin star in 2016, AA Restaurant of the Year – Wales 2016-2017, 3AA rosettes, Restaurant of the year 2016 for Wales at the Food Awards Wales and Number 34 in the Good Food Guide for 2017, we have also achieved 5 stars for rooms with the AA and Visit Wales.
“We would like to personally thank all our diners and guests, without you none of this would be possible.
“We pride ourselves in being a family-run business, with myself heading up the kitchen, Louise front of house and our 3 girls never far away. I have always hoped and wished that one of our girls would follow in my footsteps and that wish came true when our eldest daughter, Georgia, came to us after Christmas and said, “Dad, I’m not enjoying college, I’ve decided I want to be in the kitchen with you full time.” I was over the moon, Georgia has worked with me part-time for a few years and is a natural you don’t come across very often, certainly not at 17 years of age – we are very proud.
“Did I realise running a business would be this hard? No! Would I change anything? No! This has been my lifelong dream and now I’m living it!”
“My late grandmother has always been my inspiration, cooking with her on a Saturday gave me my love and passion for cooking and I will always be eternally grateful. I hope when she’s looking down she can feel proud of what her influences have made me achieve, a special lady who will always hold a very special place in my heart.”
James Sommerin Restaurant
RJS awarded Michelin Star
James Sommerin cooks for homeless
A taste of Spain in the heart of Penarth
Bringing life back to a former art gallery and cinema
Top 20 ranking on Fast Growth 50 list
Free online ticketing system
Tech company’s impressive growth figures
Test management software specialists
Cosmeston Lakes Country Park & Medieval Village
Penarth Pier in pictures
Turner House Gallery
Penarth Quays Marina
Interactive Virtual Tour
Public Monuments & Sculpture Association
Guy Penrose GibsonVC (RAF wing commander – leader of the Dambuster raid)
Memorial plaque unveiled
Linda Gail Lewis (sister of Rock and Roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis)
The Devil, Me and Jerry Lee
David Sullivan (billionaire businessman)
This old house
The Freedom Fighter
Sir Alun Talfan Davies (politician, lawyer, writer and publisher)
Life and times
Jack Bassett (Penarth RFC, Wales & British Lions)
British Lions tourist and Wales captain
Shakin’ Stevens (Platinum-selling rock and roll singer and songwriter)
Echoes of Our Times
Barbarians Easter rugby tour
Exhibition at the pier
The concept of an annual Barbarians Easter tour took hold over the early part of the last century and the nearest thing to a home for the invitational side came to be the Esplanade Hotel at Penarth, where the ‘Baa-Baas’ always stayed on their Easter tours of Wales. The annual Good Friday game against the Barbarians was the highlight of the Penarth club’s year and was always attended by enthusiastic capacity crowds. This fixture marked the start of the Baa-Baas’ annual South Wales tour from their ‘spiritual home’ of Penarth, which also encompassed playing Cardiff RFC on the Saturday, Swansea RFC on Easter Monday and Newport RFC on the Tuesday.
The non-match day of Easter Sunday would always see the Barbarians playing golf at the Glamorganshire Golf Club, in Penarth, while the former Esplanade Hotel, which was located on the seafront at Penarth, would host the gala party for the trip, sponsored by the Penarth RFC club. The first match took place in 1901, and over the next 75 encounters, Penarth won eleven games, drew four and lost 60. Between 1920 and the first Athletic Field game in 1925, the Good Friday games were hosted on Penarth County Grammar School‘s sports field.
The final Penarth v Barbarians game was played in 1986, by which time the Penarth club had slipped from its former prominent position in Welsh rugby. However, a special commemorative game, recognising the 100 years since the first Good Friday match, took place in 2001 and was played at the Athletic Field next to the Penarth clubhouse the day before the Barbarians played Wales at the Millennium Stadium. Gary Teichmann, captain of both the South African International squad and the Barbarians, unveiled a plaque at the clubhouse to mark the event.
What they say about Penarth:
Tim Palmer (The Sunday Times): “A seaside suburb on a rising tide”
The Guardian: “This place is parental perfection! The schools have descended from educational heaven with gold stars and merit marks. Genteel parks are garnished with bounteous borders; there are ship-laden views out to Cardiff Bay and nice little caffs for Yummy Mummies to gather”
Penarth in words and pictures:
Penarth Through Time (David Ings)
The Spirit of Penarth: 131 Years of Seaside Rugby (Chris Thau)
Around Penarth: Photographic Memories (Mark Isaacs)
Old photos Francis Frith
History of Penarth Vols 1&2 (Roy Thorne)
PENARTH ON VIDEO
Single to The Dingle! Cardiff-Penarth Train Simulator
Yule love this Merry Christmas Penarth 2016
All aboard the Balmoral Destination Penarth
Places to visit Penarth
All aboard the Waverley Penarth to Ilfracombe
Taking to the skies Seafront by drone
Summer Festival, July 2015 Vulcan Bomber display
Summer Festival 50th Anniversary Carnival Day
Rugby, 1970 Penarth v Ebbw Vale
At the seaside Penarth and Barry 1950 home movie
Anyone for tennis? Windsor Lawn Tennis Club
AND JUST FOR LAUGHS…
Penarth in peril!! Epic trailer for action/disaster movie at Welsh seaside town, featuring the pier, the beach, the library and the town centre (Penarth as you’ve never seen it before!)
Poetry in motion! Penarth Under-15s rugby
WHERE EWE CAN FIND US…
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