Public benches described as being from Penarth Pier – bought and paid-for by Penarth council-tax payers – are being put up for sale on the internet auction site Ebay and on Facebook by private dealers.
EBay seller, “sarah-twinkletoes”, describes her bench – selling at £350 – as “Fantastic piece of Victoria Welsh history. Bench from Penarth pier, timbers are new and repainted to original colours, fantastic design, cast by Evans of Llandaff. Great talking piece”.
Meanwhile on Facebook another dealer – Tip Top Salvage and Props – is selling what seem to be identical “Penarth Pier” benches – once the property of Penarth Urban District Council – for £275 each.
Quite how these classic benches – which were public property and publicly-owned assets came to be in the hands of a private dealers is unclear.
As far as PDN has been able to check no details of any deal to sell-on the public benches have been published by the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council . One Facebook poster asked the dealer how did they manage to get the benches?
In fact Tip Top Salvage and Props is correct . Most of the original classic Welsh-made benches on Penarth Esplanade had indeed undergone a thorough refurbishment in 2013 with all the timber being sanded back to bare wood before being re-coated.
The following year the benches were unnecessarily replaced with new, smaller – shorter – “Parkgate” faux-Victorian benches at a cost of £800 each. The total cost of the replacement programme was over £20,000. It was pointed out at the time that the existing benches could easily have been refurbished rather than replaced.
Now however, the true value of the original benches is being realised by the specialist dealers who snapped them up.
The solid cast-iron supports on the vintage benches were of exactly the same pattern as the benches for sale on EBay which were made by “Evans of Llandaff“. The smaller new replacement benches were all made in England.
Some local groups like the Friends of Dingle Park in Penarth had begged the Vale of Glamorgan Council to be given a couple of the discarded classic Penarth Esplanade benches – but were refused.
The park was supplied with benches which looked as if they were made of cast iron and timber but were actually constructed from re-cycled plastic . They cost £400 each.