Hard on the heels of PDN‘s revelation yesterday that “Penarth Pier” public benches are being put up for sale on the internet sites EBay and Facebook – a new mystery has emerged.
Long-time residents of Penarth recall that three public “GWR” benches once stood at intervals along the steep incline of Beach Road (one of the steepest pedestrian climbs in Penarth). They are no longer there.
The GWR benches had been strategically installed many years ago at intervals along the length of Beach Road – providing welcome stopping points for people making the climb up the steep hill from the Esplanade to Penarth Town Centre.
Great Western Railway was the company which took over the Taff Vale Railway Company and operated Penarth’s original twin-platform railway station . The original Victorian stone-built station was demolished in 1968 and the present “modern” and smaller – station erected on one of the platforms. The GWR heritage was something which may have made the benches highly desirable to collectors and enthusiasts.
Now there is only one plain public bench left on the entire length of Beach road – alongside a Vale council litter bin. Old videos suggest the three original GWR benches may have been removed some time before 2006 – and not replaced .
No one seems to know knows who removed the GWR benches, or when they were removed – or why.
A patch of tarmac on the pavement may be the only remaining vestige of the location of one one of the original GWR benches which has been lost .
Local residents are asking whether the Vale of Glamorgan Council uprooted the benches and disposed of them? – And if they did so, why weren’t they replaced? Climbing Beach Road is a challenge for a fit person – but for the elderly or less-fit, the lack of somewhere (apart from the one remaining bench) to take a breather on the way up is a daunting deterrent.
The benches are by no means the first to “disappear” from Penarth. Two art deco benches which were installed in Penarth’s Garden of Remembrance in 1934 somehow “disappeared” – and had to be replaced when the Penarth Civic Society revised the layout of the Garden in 2010.
The provision of public seating in Penarth by the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council is a matter which is of concern to Penarth Town Council and its “Momentum Group” which declared at the recent Penarth Pier Pavilion meeting on the Future of Penarth that it is examining the issue.