The only public bench in Penarth Town Centre -the one outside Barclays Bank - has had its top rail missing for years

There’s only one proper public bench in the whole of Penarth Town Centre -the one outside Barclays Bank – and that’s had its top rail missing for years – says the report (All photos by  Julian Marsh)

A survey has revealed that of all the 77 public benches in Penarth – only one (the broken bench outside Barclays Bank) –  is actually located in Penarth Town Centre.

The survey has been carried out by local resident Mr Julian Marsh who says he finds it interesting that “in a lovely town like Penarth with an ageing population, how so many beautiful benches have been placed all around Penarth –  and none in the town centre where the majority of the people are for most of the year.”

The broken bench outside Barclays Bank - along with the graffiti on the wall and the rusty street furniture give a poor impression of Penarth (Photo Julian Marsh)

The broken bench outside Barclays Bank – along with the graffiti on the wall and the rusty street furniture give a poor impression of Penarth (Photo Julian Marsh)

Mr Marsh has found that there is only 1 proper bench (i.e. a bench which has a proper back to it) in the whole of  Penarth Town Centre, and that’s the  one outside Barclays Bank  which he says is “Very likely the most used bench in Penarth”.

In his exhaustive report Mr Marsh has not only counted all of Penarth’s public benches but photographed many of them – some pristine, but others in a state of delapidation and neglect.

He says the “Barclays” bench – which is the responsibility of the Vale of Glamorgan Council – has had the top rail of its back missing “for at least five years –  and been in situ for 15 years” .

Two backless "seats" in the town centre don't count as proper benches (Photo Julian Marsh)

Two backless seats in the town centre don’t count as proper benches (Photo Julian Marsh)

Mr Marsh’s ‘bench census’ concedes that the Town Centre does have 2 backless seats – but those don’t count as proper benches  and they’re “not the most comfortable”.

Altogether Mr Marsh has counted 28 benches on Penarth promenade , 26 on Penarth Pier and 11 in the Italian Gardens.

He goes on to say  “There are a lot of older people in Penarth who would like to be able to sit and wait while their friends or partners go about their shopping. If more were installed I am sure they would make good use of them.”

“If this not possible, with 77 benches along the promenade and the beach, many more within the park areas, the least the residents of Penarth should expect of the one full bench in the town centre  – and  for it to be in good condition.”

The paving around the Cliff Road benches suggests there should have been three here rathert than two . Mr Marsh says he's never seen anyone sitting on them

The paving around the Cliff Road benches suggests there should have been three benches here rather than two – but Mr Marsh says he’s never seen anyone sitting on them

Meanwhile his report points out that many newer benches have been located in much less populated parts of Penarth .

As examples he identifies “the beautiful bench situated at the crossing of Cliff Hill and Marine Parade” – which has twin “second bench across road”.

Mr Marsh says these have been in place almost two years but “I have never once seen anyone using them. There are another 9 benches within one hundred yards”.

He suggests the wide pavement outside the St Fagans Pub as a possible area where benches could be situated in the town center for people to sit and enjoy the town atmosphere.

Mr Marsh suggests this area outside the St Fagans pub as the location for a bench (Photo Julian Marsh)

Mr Marsh suggests this area outside the St Fagans pub as the location for a bench (Photo Julian Marsh)

The issue of the so-called “Public Realm”  of Penarth [the publicly-owned spaces] , has already been raised by in a public meeting held in Penarth Pier Pavilion on April 15th  this year (See PDN report on )

At this meeting it was revealed that the Penarth Town Council’s think tank – the “Momentum Group” – was seriously discussing the possible pedestrianisation of the town centre.

The Barclays Bank bench was cited then as an example of part of Penarth’s “tired” public realm and a new design of distinctive public bench to be called a “Penarth Seat “ which would be “unique to the town” was announced – but none of these benches has been installed as yet.


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  1. Jillabong says:

    Well done to Julian Marsh for carrying out this much needed survey. Wil we get new benches in the town centre? Not if Barry needs them first. Come on council – if you can waste all that money on the Penarth Head mistake, surely money can be found for a few benches.

  2. lesley withers says:

    We are still waiting for a response regarding the mysterious disappearance of the refurbished benches from the promenade, refurbished then immediately replaced with brand new ones. No one seems to have an answer to the question of where they are now. Answers please.

  3. Fiona Whitfield says:

    Before my shift and half hour lunch I try to sit at bus stop bench-Bus drivers know not to stop if only me there now-one day I may need a bus ha ha

  4. Johnabutt says:

    Barclays are usually very prompt in removing graffiti from their wall. The present offering as shown in the picture has been there for several weeks.

  5. Peter Church says:

    It would be great if the Penarth Town Council used some of the “Barry Town Council Surplus Money of £113,000” which we in Penarth subsidise that town with, year in year out with our higher average Council Taxes, higher Town Council Precept and higher Police Charges. Use it to design bespoke stainless steel benches for OUR town centre. Have a design competition and situate them across Penarth.

  6. Anne Greagsby says:

    Good for Marsh. He is so right. No mention of the Bradford place strange bench! It certainly is time to provide more benches for Penarth town centre. Seems the town centre is being neglcted , no benches, no flowers on the roundabout but wobbly leaning flower poles! We haven’t seen the newly designed ‘Penarth bench’ as yet but a traditional style of bench is the most appropriate for Penarth.

    • Penileaks says:

      The Bradford Place bench was asked for by my late mother and others, who were/are residents of Homeside House, the building in Bradford Place that has apartments for the over 60’s only.
      They requested a seat in that position to allow the more infirm residents to rest somewhere midway whilst on their walk to town and back.

  7. MGG says:

    Thank you Mr Marsh for doing an exhaustive survey and report on what we already know. ( why was this done ? Just out of interest ? To help the council ? ) What appears to be missing however is any mention of someone contacing the council to see how the benches mentioned in April are progressing? Or any reccomendations and costings .Easy to shout from the sidelines .Bit more difficult when you actually get on the pitch.

  8. snoggerdog says:

    im with mr marsh 101% on this he,s done the survey,and is telling the v.g.c. what most penarthians knew already,whenever i go past those seats by the site of the old putting course,i think they should have a plaque on them saying “these benches are not for sitting on they are models for what the v.g.c. thinks benches should look like” the nicest object to look at in that area is the Victoria Rex post in the wall.

  9. Martin Coffee says:

    If they’re going to pedestrianise the town centre a lot of thought is going to have to be put into changing the traffic flows so that the buses have a new sensible route with convenient stops.

  10. Sue B says:

    I asked one of our town councillors a couple of years ago why there were no benches in the town centre. He told me it was because they were concerned re certain members of e public damaging them. I also asked why could we not have a notice board in a prominent position in the town centre to advertise local events etc. Apparently there s a notice board on the wall outside West House – not the most public place. – and it is full of official council notices.

  11. Peter Church says:

    They maybe don’t want them in the town centre due to drinking culture there on Friday/Saturday nights??

  12. AK says:

    Belle Vue park has some nice benches close to the town centre, and without the traffic fumes.

    The backless benches can only have been dreamed up by an idiot.

    Why don’t the Council consider charging an exhorbitant fee to park on the esplanade, thereby encouraging it to become car free ! Keep it free on the uphill and on the cliff top.

  13. Penarth Eye says:

    Well Done Mr Marsh A Constructive Survey. Interesting To See What Action The VOG Take ??. Perhaps They Should Install A SAND PIT In The Council Chambers So They Can Bury Their Heads And IGNORE The Many Suggestions / Ideas That Us PENARTHIANS Feel So Strongly About.

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