Llandudno and North Wales
Llandudno and North Wales
Tourist Information, 1-2 Chapel Street, Llandudno, Gwynedd, LL30 29Y. 0492 76413.
North Wales Tourism Council, 70 Conway Road, Colwyn Bay, Clwyd, LL29 7LN.
(posted Nov 2011): Chester (0244 318727).
It seemed like a case of lese-majesty when it was decided to switch off the light which shone out to sea from the lighthouse up on the Great Orme over the resort of Llandudno because of the decline in shipping using the Irish Sea. But what was one to think when another blow was struck at the dignity of this 'Queen of Welsh Resorts' when it was suggested, by literary historians, that the town's proud boast that Lewis Carroll had 'dreamt of Alice in Wonderland' whilst staying there was spurious? Such a double blow dealt to other resorts might have dented their pride, but not Llandudno. Perhaps it is inevitable that a town which has grown from a small copper mining village to become the premier Welsh resort in less than one hundred and fifty years should also have enough self-confidence to overcome such slights upon its character. After all, not only is Llandudno a self-crowned queen but she has also added a whole string of self-imposed honours, 'Jewel that sparkles in the Crown of Wales', 'Welsh Riviera', 'Ace of Resorts', 'Haven of Peace' and 'Naples of the North' among them.
It was not until 1854 that building really began in the north-west corner of Wales on the Creuddyn Peninsula, when they set out to create, in one of the finest settings, a purpose-built Welsh watering-place. The medieval town of Conwy was a few miles away; the steep high limestone headland of the Great Orme protected the West Shore and the Little Orme provided shelter to the North Shore; from the sandy beaches the land climbed up towards the spectacular mountains of Snowdonia to the south. It had, in short, all the ingredients the Victorians were looking for when it came to holidays: scenery, good hotels, fine sands, entertainment, and a touch of class. The crescents may not have the style of those at Brighton or Bath, 'Pimlico Palladian' Sir Clough Williams-Ellis of Portmeirion once called them, but there is every sign that those original planners sensibly used both the contours of the sandy marsh and the space available to good effect.
The North and South Parades, and the Promenade with its crescent of hotels stretching east, the pier with its onion-domed Pavilion, Llandudno's parks and gardens, and buildings with their domes, spires, balconies, balustrades, wrought- and cast-iron decorations all bear witness to Victorian planning and preferences.
Some bits of Victoriana have disappeared - the Camera Obscura, the spire of Christ Church and the Market Hall among them and there has been the odd planning aberration, such as the Astra Cinema, but, in general, Llandudno has successfully made its way into the 1980s without too many blemishes upon its regal face. Almost its only industry is the tourist industry, so Llandudno is free of incursion from industrial giants. It has more hotels than any other town in Wales, it does not allow ice-cream vendors, or anyone else, to peddle their wares along the promenades, and it tries to maintain a dignified distance from its more commercial neighbours of Prestatyn, Rhyl and Colwyn Bay to the east and the smaller resorts of Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan to the west. Llandudno likes to ally itself much more with the old walled town of picturesque Conwy because that adds an attractive bit of history which it otherwise lacks.
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