Porthcawl harbour and resort
A stroll around this south Wales seaside town
(Photos © urban75, 26th December 2008)
Situated in the county borough of Bridgend, 25 miles west of Cardiff and 19 miles south-east of Swansea, Porthcawl faces out to the Bristol Channel.
Developed as a coal port, the area is now a popular holiday destination, with Trecco Bay, one of the largest caravan and camping parks in Europe, and the Coney Beach funfair nearby.
With the decline of the South Wales Valleys coal pits - and the subsequent disappearance of the 'miners fortnight' annual holiday, the town struggled for several years.
However a substantial regeneration scheme, known as the 7 Bays Project, looks to revitalise the area, adding new sea defences plus retail, leisure and community facilities, along with a new promenade, town square and car parking.
Porthcawl became a busy port for coal exports from 1825 onwards, with the harbour and inner dock being built by the Brogden family in 1866.
Unable to compete with nearby ports such as Barry, the harbour lost its status as a working dock as far back as 1906, and is now used for pleasure boating and fishing.
The 1832 Jennings Building is a grade II listed building and Wales' oldest maritime warehouse.
Originallly used for storing iron transported from Maesteg, it served as a timber warehouse and sawmill for a Mr Jennings from 1911.
Right at the end of Porthcawl Pier can be seen this old lighthouse, built around 1860.
The sky looks bright and sunny, but it was -3ºC with a howling wind when I took this photo.
Archive view of the white, hexagonal cast iron tower, c.1955.
The lighthouse was the last coal and gas powered lighthouse in the UK and not converted to gas until 1974 (and electricity in 1997).
A bit of a boring scene, I agree, but the photo shows the last intact section of the Duffryn, Llynvi and Porthcawl Railway Company, which ran from 1825-1869.
The railway ran along the pier to supply steamers with coal and iron from local industries.
Lifeguard's lookout tower.
Reflecting the town's former status as a major seaside resort, Porthcawl's expansive promenade was constructed in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Jubilee.
Tourism hits its peak in the 1920s and 30s, and the promenade was restored in 1996.
Looking out to the Bristol Channel.
Replacing the 1880 Esplanade Hotel is this controversial set of luxury apartments, known as 'Esplanade House.'
This luxury development may have impressed the Royal Society of Architects in Wales (who awarded it a Welsh Housing Design Award in 2006), but the locals have remained unimpressed, dubbing it 'the bottle bank'.
Built in 1932, the Grand Pavilion theatre is a major focus of Porthcawl's social life and served as a dance and concert hall during the war years.
The Pavilion sports a classic thirties facade topped off by a distinctive octagonal dome.
Attractive Victorian sea-facing house.
Dating back to the 19th century the Seabank Hotel is a place where 'Business and Leisure become a pleasure'. Or at least that's what their website says.
Looking out to sea.
A last look before we headed back into Cardiff with the football on the radio (we drew away to Reading, with the feckers getting a last minute equaliser).
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