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Llandudno Bay and the Little Orme viewed from the Great Orme
Llandudno shown within Conwy
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Llandudno (Welsh pronunciation: [ɬanˈdɪdnɔ]) is a seaside resort and town in Conwy County Borough, Wales. In the 2001 UK census it had a population of 20,090 including that of Penrhyn Bay and Penrhynside, which are within the Llandudno Community. The town is just off the North Wales Coast railway line which was opened as the Chester and Holyhead Railway in 1848, became part of the London and North Western Railway in 1859, and part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923. Llandudno was specifically built as a mid- Victorian era holiday destination and is served by a branch railway line opened in 1858 from Llandudno Junction with stations at Deganwy and Llandudno.
Llandudno, Queen of the Welsh Resorts, a title first implied as early as 1864, is now the largest seaside resort in Wales, and lies on a flat land between the Welsh mainland and the Great Orme peninsula. Llandudno, which lies in Conwy County Borough, was formerly in the district of Aberconwy within Gwynedd, and until 1974 was in Caernarfonshire.
Modern Llandudno takes its name from the ancient parish of Saint Tudno but also encompasses several neighbouring townships and districts including Craig-y-Don, Llanrhos, and Penrhyn Bay. Also nearby is the small town and marina of Deganwy and these last four are in the traditional parish of Llanrhos. The ancient geographical boundaries of the Llandudno area are complex. Although they are on the eastern side of the River Conwy (the natural boundary between north-west and north-east Wales), the ancient parishes of Llandudno, Llanrhos and Llangystennin (which includes Llandudno Junction) were in the medieval commote of Creuddyn in the Kingdom of Gwynedd, and afterwards part of Caernarfonshire. Today, Deganwy and Llandudno Junction are part of the town community of Conwy even though they are across the river from Conwy and linked to Conwy only by a causeway and a bridge.
Llandudno Bay and the North Shore
This wide sweep of sand, shingle and rock extends two miles in a graceful curve between the headlands of the Great Orme and the Little Orme.
For most of the distance on Llandudno's North Shore there is a wide curving Victorian promenade separated from the roadway by a strip of garden. The road, collectively known as The Parade, has a different name for each block and it is on these parades and crescents that many of Llandudno's hotels are built.
Near the centre of the bay is the North Wales Theatre and next to it The North Wales Conference Centre. The Llandudno Yacht Club and a roundabout mark the end of this section of The Parade and beyond are more hotels and guest houses but they are in the township of Craig-y-Don.
At Nant-y-Gamar road, The Parade becomes Colwyn Road with the fields of Bodafon Hall Farm on the landward side but with the promenade continuing until it ends in a large paddling pool for children and finally the Craigside residential development on the lower slopes of the Little Orme.
The award-winning pier is on the North Shore; it was built in 1878, and is 1,234 feet (376 m) in length and a Grade II listed building.
Looking back towards the town from the end of the pier, on a clear day one can see the mountains of Snowdonia rising over the town. A curious major extension of the pier in 1884 was in a landwards direction along the side of what was the Baths Hotel (now where the Grand Hotel stands) to provide a new entrance with the Llandudno Pier Pavilion Theatre at the North Parade end of the promenade, thus increasing the pier's length to 2,295 feet (700 m). Attractions on the pier include a bar, a cafe, amusement arcades and children's fairground rides. There is also a range of shops, including Victorian kiosks selling photographic prints of the local area, crafts, herbal remedies and souvenirs.
In the summer, Professor Codman's Punch and Judy show (established in 1860) can be found on the promenade near the entrance to the Pier.
This great limestone headland has many attractions for the tourist including the Great Orme Tramway that takes tourists effortlessly to the summit.
Two features of the Great Orme should be mentioned here because they both start at the end of the promenade where North Parade becomes for a short distance Happy Valley Road, which in its turn becomes the Marine Drive.
The Happy Valley, a former quarry, was the gift of Lord Mostyn to the town in celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. The area was landscaped and developed as gardens, two miniature golf courses, a putting green, a popular open air theatre and extensive lawns. The ceremonies connected with the Welsh National Eisteddfod were held there in 1896 and again in 1963. In June 1969, The Great Orme Cabin Lift, a modern alternative to the tramway, was opened with its base station adjacent to the open air theatre. The distance to the summit is just over one mile (1.6 km) and the four-seater cabins travel at six m.p.h. on a continuous steel cable over two miles (3 km) long. It is the longest single stage cabin lift in Britain and the longest span between pylons is over 1,000 feet (300 m). The popularity of the 'Happy Valley Entertainers' open air theatre having declined, the theatre closed in 1985 and likewise the two miniature golf courses closed and were converted in 1987 to create a 280 metre artificial ski slope and toboggan run. The gardens were extensively restored as part of the resort's millennium celebrations and remain a major attraction.
The first route round the perimeter of the Great Orme was a footpath constructed in 1858 by Reginald Cust a Trustee of the Mostyn Estate. In 1872 the Great Ormes Head Marine Drive Co. Ltd. was formed to turn the path into a carriage road. Following bankruptcy, a second company completed the road in 1878. The contractors for the scheme were Messrs Hughes, Morris, Davies, a consortium led by Richard Hughes of Madoc Street, Llandudno. The road was bought by Llandudno Urban District Council in 1897. The four mile (6 km) drive (it is one way only) starts at the foot of the Happy Valley. After about one and a half miles, a side road leads to St. Tudno's Church, the Great Orme Bronze Age Copper Mine, and the Summit of the Great Orme. But, continuing on the Marine Drive one passes the Great Orme Lighthouse (no longer operational) and at the half way point the 'Rest and be thankful' Café is very popular with both walkers and motorists.
The West Shore is the quiet beach on the estuary of the River Conwy. It was here at Pen Morfa that Alice Liddell (of Alice in Wonderland fame) spent the long summer holidays of her childhood from 1862 to 1871. There are few hotels and a few quiet residential streets. The West Shore is linked to the North Shore by Gloddaeth Avenue, a wide dual carriageway.
Running behind the promenade is Mostyn Street leading to Mostyn Broadway and then Mostyn Avenue. These are the main shopping streets of Llandudno and Craig-y-Don. Mostyn Street accommodates the high street shops, the major high street banks and building societies, two churches, amusement arcades and the town public library. The latter is the starting point for the Town Trail, a carefully planned walk that facilitates viewing Llandudno in a historical perspective.
Every year in May Bank Holiday weekend, Llandudno has a three-day Victorian Carnival and Mostyn Street becomes a funfair. Madoc Street and Gloddaeth Street and the Promenade become part of the route each day of a mid-day carnival parade. The Bodafon Farm fields become the location of a Festival of Transport for the weekend.
Alice in Wonderland
Llandudno has a link with Lewis Carroll; because the family of the "real Alice" regularly spent holidays at their holiday-home Penmorfa, later the Gogarth Abbey Hotel and recently the Penmorfa Hotel (destroyed 2009, ignoring public protest) on the West Shore of Llandudno. Contrary to local myth, Alice Liddell did not meet Carroll in the town, and was not told the Alice stories in the town. It is, however, just possible that she may have first read the Alice books in print while on holiday in the town. There is no evidence that Carroll ever visited Penmorfa, and he probably would have been unwelcome if he had. Indeed, there is contrary evidence; a letter exists, written by one of Alice Liddell's sisters when grown-up, saying she had no memory of Carroll ever visiting the girls in Llandudno. It's also said that part of the book was written at the St Georges Hotel In Llandudno
The North Wales Theatre, Arena and Conference Centre, built in 1994, extended in 2006 and renamed " Venue Cymru" is located near the centre of the promenade on Penrhyn Crescent. It is noted for its productions of opera, orchestral concerts, ballet, musical theatre, drama, circus, ice shows and pantomimes.
Llandudno is unique within the United Kingdom in that its lifeboat station is located inland, allowing it to launch with equal facility from either the West Shore or the North Shore as needed. Llandudno's active volunteer crews are called out more than ever with the rapidly increasing numbers of small pleasure craft sailing in coastal waters. The Llandudno Lifeboat is normally on display on the promenade every Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday from May until October.
Early History of Llandudno
The town of Llandudno developed from stone age, bronze age and Iron Age settlements over many hundreds of years on the slopes of the limestone headland, known to seafarers as the Great Orme and to landsmen as the Creuddyn peninsular. The origins in recorded history are with the Manor of Gogarth conveyed by King Edward I to Annan, Bishop of Bangor in 1284. The manor comprised three townships, Y Gogarth in the south-west, Y Cyngreawdr in the north (with the parish church of St. Tudno) and Yn Wyddfid in the south-east. By 1847 the town had grown to a thousand persons served by the new church of St. George, built in 1840, the great majority of the men working in the copper mines with others employed in fishing and subsistence agriculture.
In 1848, Owen Williams, an architect and surveyor from Liverpool, presented Lord Mostyn with plans to develop the marsh lands behind Llandudno Bay as a holiday resort. These were enthusiastically pursued by Lord Mostyn. The influence of the Mostyn Estate and its agents over the years was to become paramount in the development of Llandudno and especially after the appointment of George Felton as surveyor and architect in 1857. During the years 1857 to 1877 much of central Llandudno was developed under Felton's supervision. George Felton also undertook architectural design work including the design and execution of Holy Trinity Church in Mostyn Street.
The ancient parish church dedicated to Saint Tudno stands in a hollow near the northern point of the Great Orme and two miles (3 km) from the present town. It was established as an oratory by Tudno, a 6th century monk, but the present church dates from the 12th century and it is still used on summer Sunday mornings. It was the Anglican parish church of Llandudno until that status was transferred first to St George’s (now closed) and later to Holy Trinity Church in Mostyn Street.
The principal Christian Churches of Llandudno are members of Cytûn (churches together) and include the Church in Wales (Holy Trinity and also Saint Paul's at Craig-y-Don), the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea, Saint John’s Methodist Church, Gloddaeth United Church ( Presbyterian), Assemblies of God ( Pentecostal), Llandudno Baptist Church, St. David's Methodist Church at Craig-y-Don, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Saint Mary and Saint Abasikhiron, and Eglwys Unedig Gymraeg Llandudno (the United Welsh Church of Llandudno).
Bodysgallen Hall is a manor house nearby to the south near the village of Llanrhos. This listed historical building derives primarily from the 17th century, and has several later additions. Bodysgallen was constructed as a tower house in the Middle Ages to serve as defensive support for nearby Conwy Castle.
Links with Wormhout and Mametz
Llandudno is twinned with the Flemish town of Wormhout ten miles (16 km) from Dunkirk. It was there that many members of the Llandudno-based 69th Territorial Regiment were ambushed and taken prisoner. Later, at nearby Esquelbecq on 28 May 1940, the prisoners were shot.
The 1st (North Wales) Brigade was Headquartered in Llandudno in December 1914 and included a battalion of the ( Royal Welch Fusiliers), which had been raised and trained in Llandudno. During the 1914–18 war this Brigade a major part of the 38th Welsh Division took part in the Battle of the Somme and the Brigade was ordered to take Mametz Wood. Two days of fighting brought about the total destruction of Mametz village by shelling. After the war, the people of Llandudno (including returning survivors from the 38th Welsh Division) contributed generously to the fund for the reconstruction of the village of Mametz.
Llandudno hosted the Welsh National Eisteddfod in 1864, 1896 and 1963, and from 26–31 May 2008 welcomed the Urdd National Eisteddfod to Gloddaeth Isaf Farm, Penrhyn Bay. The town also hosted the Liverpool Olympic Festival in 1865 and 1866.
Matthew Arnold gives a vivid and lengthy description of 1860s Llandudno – and of the ancient tales of Taliesin and Maelgwn Gwynedd that are associated with the local landscape — in the first sections of the preface to On the Study of Celtic Literature (1867).
Queen Elisabeth of Romania, the writer Carmen Sylva, stayed in Llandudno for five weeks in 1890 and on taking her leave described Wales as "a beautiful haven of peace". Translated into Welsh as "hardd, hafan, hedd" it became the town's official motto.
Other famous people with links to Llandudno include the Victorian Statesman John Bright and multi-capped Welsh international footballers Neville Southall and Joey Jones. Australian ex-Prime Minister Billy Hughes attended school in Llandudno.
The international art gallery, Oriel Mostyn is situated in Vaughan Street next to the post office. It was built in 1902 to house the art collection of Lady Augusta Mostyn. It was requisitioned in 1914 for use as an Army drill hall and later became a warehouse before being returned to use as an art gallery in 1979. Following a major revamp the gallery was renamed simply 'Mostyn' in 2010.
Llandudno is home to a Jewish Centre in Church Walks, which serves the local Jewish population - one of few in North Wales. The town also boasts a Coptic church (The Coptic Orthodox Church of St Mary and St Abasikhiron on Trinity Avenue) as well as a Buddhist centre, Kalpa Bhadra, on Mostyn Avenue in Craig-y-Don.
In January 1984 Brookside character Petra Taylor ( Alexandra Pigg) committed suicide in Llandudno.