Robbed from the people of Penarth – The Kymin – a tangled history going back to 1680

The Labour-run Penarth Town Council is –  yet again – planning to increase the precept it charges to local residents as part of their Council Tax bills  – this time to pay for maintenance and development at The Kymin.

However the Town Council doesn’t actually own The Kymin: it’s the property of the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council – which leases the house and the surrounding land to Penarth Council on a rolling 12 months’ lease.

The green, green grass of The Kymin – taken from the people of Penarth and rented back to them

The cost of major maintenance works at The Kymin should be paid for by the Vale of Glamorgan Council as the landlords – but the Labour-run council keeps pleading poverty and won’t pay up.

The chronology of the issue runs something like this:-

1250 : The present “Kymin” was originally a farmstead called “Worbeys Fote”

1680: There is a “Kimmin Farm” on the site (now known as “The Kymin”). The strange name is a Norse or Celtic reference to the mouth of a stream. 

1790: A new farmhouse – called “The Kymin” is now is established . The property comprises a farmhouse grasslabnd and woodland and a freshwater stream.

1841: The Kymin is the home of a  retired Irish army captain (38th Regiment) John Minchin and his wife Charlotte. He dies in  1853 .

1875 : The house was rebuilt and becomes the home of James Sidney Batchelor J. P. a timber merchant/commission agent from Newport, Monmouthshire who is one of the 6 Batchelor brothers – three of whom live in Penarth. The freehold belongs to the Earl of Plymouth.

The Kymin and Penarth Head in 1927

1947: Penarth Urban District Council Council acquires the Kymin estate under a  compulsory purchase order for £4,500 with a view to opening it as a “public pleasure ground”. The purchase is funded from the rates charged to the local residents of Penarth . The house itself is let to private tenants.

1952 Penarth UDC  leases the ground floor of Kymin House to an aviation firm – Simmonds Aerocessories Ltd. Later the firm takes of the entire house and the private tenants leave the building.

1952 Penarth Presbyterian Church holds a “summer fayre”  on the lawn of the Kymin – the first of many events to be held in the grounds by local organisations . Penarth UDC’s Parks Department uses part of the grounds for propagating seeds .

1959 Penarth UDC considers building a brand new public swimming pool at the Kymin to replace the one on the Esplanade/Bridgeman Road – but dwecides against it “for the time being ”    

1960 : A number of developers make offers for the land to build flats on the site – along with a lido, an hotel and a “boating lake“. All are refused

1964: The Kymin House is allocated as living accommodation to the Clerk of the Penarth UDC – who is already occupying part of the premises. The deal is that the Clerk must pay out of his own pocket for any conversion work carried out.

1968: ( or around this date) Penarth UDC obtains planning permission to “develop a recreation centre at the Kymin, including new swimming baths“.

1969: Penarth UDC  has negotiations with the Earl of Plymouth to obtain release from a restrictive covenant on the site. However the “recreation centre” is never developed.

1974: Penarth UDC is wound up under local government re-organisation. The deeds of the Kymin are handed over to the new South Glamorgan County Council – even though the Penarth Council bought the Kymin outright with a rates precept taxed from the people of Penarth .

1982: Penarth  Town Council enters a “rolling lease”  with South Glamorgan County Council so that it can  carry on using what is morally Penarth Council’s own property. This lease obliges Penarth Town Council to carry out minor maintenance but leaves the larger county council responsible for major works.

1996: South Glamorgan County Council goes out of existence . The freehold of the Kymin  is passed to the Vale of Glamorgan Council – which refuses – and continues to refuse  – to transfer the deeds of the Kymin back to Penarth – even though the people of Penarth paid £4,500 for the house and grounds in 1947 .

Floodlit outdoor gyms are common in the USA. In 2014 the then Mayor of Penarth Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) suggested such a floodlit facility be set up at the Kymin.

2014: The then Mayor of  Penarth, Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell), proposes setting up a floodlit “outdoor gymnasium and an indoor gym” at the Kymin – an idea he said he had been “banging on about” since the election of the Labour administration in Penarth in 2012.

A gymnasium he says, is something which would “benefit the town, benefit the people of Penarth and was something we need”.  The idea is not progressed.

A BBC film crew along with 70 year old vintage vehicles – sets up to film Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall at the Kymin, Penarth starring Eva Longoria .

The house and grounds today are estimated to be worth £3,000,000.

2017:  Penarth Town Council holds a “rolling 12 month lease” on the property at a peppercorn rent but wants to acquire the freehold . However, as an interim measure, Penarth Council is hoping to negotiate a longer term lease of around 99 years which would be enough to justify taking out a Public Works Loan towards the cost of  maintaining and developing the building –  including upgrading the toilets and kitchens.

Taking out such a loan would mean the Penarth Town Council increasing – yet again – the precept it charges to local residents as part of their Council Tax bills.

Meanwhile the Vale of Glamorgan Council steadfastly refuses to transfer the ownership of the Kymin back to the people of Penarth – from whom it has been – in effect – stolen.



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Penarth Daily News email address . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
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  1. Nicki Page says:

    Why can’t the kymin and pavilion and turner house gallery and padget rooms be turned over to a new community company and run professionally with a proper business and marketing plan customer centric – to then better promote the facilities and town in an integrated way – as a meeting destination to drive revenue and usage. As a day trip experience, to attract special interest groups loving heritage and art and history, or those just wanting an ice cream on the sea front or a stroll up to the cliff tops or to shop and drop – To help the seafront and town thrive together
    To add value to our community
    Would be interested to get comments and feedback as part of the public meeting tomorrow Monday 20th march 6.30 doors open at scout:church hall stanwell baptist church hall. All questions to invited pacl and councillors welcome itv filmimg Monday 20th 11am seafront pavilion entrance which is shut on a Monday or else at Busy teapot cafe It’s easy to complain. But the above is a viable solution I believe if professionally managed – we have wonderful natural assets and beautiful heritage buildings in fantastic destinations in penarth. We need to think differently I suggest look with a new vision shared by all Please come and share your ideas with the people who love ❤️ Penarth. Above petty politics seeing the big vision for our fantastic little town by the sea

    • Tom says:

      All credit for your enthusiasm but I do hope we’re not going to have to plough through endless happy-clappy, pie-in-the-sky nonsense about “community companies” (and 1970s’-style tourist brochure talk of “our fantastic little town by the sea”) every time there’s a question mark over an amenity in the town.
      Sad as it may be for the sake of the Pier cinema, and as harsh as it sounds, I think what needs to happen is that you make an utter hash of the cinema campaign – “in our fantastic little town by the sea” – and then the hot air might blow over.

      • Nicki Page says:

        Look forward to seeing you tomorrow 6.30pm doors open – share your views in person: many find it easier with face to face communication its an opportunity created to come together to get questions on the table and positive ways forward all together better – that was and is the intention

    • Gareth says:

      “…run professionally with a proper business and marketing plan customer centric – to then better promote the facilities and town in an integrated way – as a meeting destination to drive revenue and usage…”
      David Brent would be proud, Nicki.

      • Chris David says:

        I have suggested Ms Page uses plain English when trying to describe a business plan. American style gobbledygook is so passé. To muddy one of the Monday meeting with other topics is madness and a clear sign of an unfocussed approach. Not helped by no real agenda and gospel singers wasting precious time. So – I wonder if the alleged theft of the Kymin could be challenged in the courts? It would be one in the eye for the labour looneys if it could.

    • Jamie says:

      “As a day trip experience, to attract special interest groups loving heritage and art and history” – what heritage? The Vale is knocking it all down.

    • Seth says:

      “Would be interested to get comments and feedback as part of the public meeting tomorrow Monday 20th march 6.30 doors open at scout:”
      As I thought – tomorrow’s ‘meeting’ is likely to be unfocused and chaotic, a series of projectile vomits about people’s gripes, and by 9pm you’ll have got nowhere.
      Re. the pier cinema issue, I thought time was of the essence and yet you’re already going off-road with talk of strolling on the clifftops with ice creams???
      If you see yourself as champion of the people, Ms Page – the much-travelled, wise PR executive capable of rousing cross-gender, family friendly, ‘grass roots’ support in the town – may I suggest you stick to the point?

      • Chris David says:


      • Nicki Page says:

        Seth as you are an expert in these matters – I leave that to you on the night. I have simply raised the issue, got information out to the people of Penarth and those with an interest, in the best way I can – itv are filming for the 6pm news tomorrow so pls come to the pier pavilion and have your say on air I suggest

    • Jonny says:

      “itv filming” – I’ll bet they are. I wonder what their viewers will think more farcical – the running (and I use the term loosely) to date of the Pier Pavilion or the campaign(s) to save it.

      • Simon says:

        Last of the Summer Wine meets Rosemary & Thyme 🙂

      • Nicki Page says:

        Let us see

      • Jamie says:

        I wonder who will be putting the case of PACL/VoG etc? I hope ITV manage to flush out “Professor Tony Hazell”. If they don’t, that should at least mean many more people will deduce his silence speaks volumes. They seek him here, they seek him there, and still no answers on what the **** happened. In my opinion, a scandal of epic proportions.

    • Philip Rapier says:

      There was no Earl of Plymouth between 1837 and 1905 as the title was declared extinct so the excellent research on the history of the Kymin by PDN below is slightly inaccurate where it states
      .” 1875 etc The freehold belongs to the Earl of Plymouth.-”
      There was however Lady Harriet Hickman -Windsor – later changing her name to Windsor-Clive when she was created Baroness Windsor.
      A major supporter of and investor in the Bachelors and Penarth Dock also a progressive Liberal by instinct Lady Harriet had no time for the Industrial monopoly of her cousins and rivals the Butes.
      The title was “re-created” for the benefit of Lady Harriet’s grandson Robert Windsor- Clive in 1905

  2. Ann Other says:

    What do you mean by a ‘community company’? What legal basis for the ‘company’ do. you envisage?

    • Nicki Page says:

      this is a suggestion and needs proper debate however: firstly we need to understand why we are in the mess and the pavilion is again forced to close 3 days a week and the cinema 7 days and why no integrated marketing plan has been evidenced
      An independent review of the financial and operational management of the facility to date plus a review of the lease agreement given by the Vale to PACL, all funding received and spent and the competencies of those running the business before we can move forward needs to be established in an open and inclusive way hope to see you tomorrow 6.30pm at stanwell baptist church hall

  3. Marcus says:

    “2014: The then Mayor of Penarth, Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell), proposes setting up a floodlit “outdoor gymnasium and an indoor gym” at the Kymin – an idea he had been “banging on about” since the election of the Labour administration in Penarth in 2012. A gymnasium he says, is something which would “benefit the town, benefit the people of Penarth and was something we need”. The idea is not progressed.”
    I have never heard anything quite so preposterous and destructive. In my opinion he should have stood down after that.

    • Ian Perry says:

      Marcus, don’t dismiss ideas that you don’t understand – unless you are a blogger or journalist. 🙂

      Councils around Wales are spending money on outdoor gyms such as those on the common at Dinas Powys and on Cardiff Barrage. Expensive equipment that looks like that found in traditional indoor gyms is installed, and curious children and tired adults sit on it…

      I drive past the equipment at Dinas Powys on my way to Roath Rec, where there is cheaper and much more useful fitness equipment.

      There are people in Wales who would love for there to be proper Callisthenics Parks here. Whilst the adult gyms on the common at Dinas Powys and on Cardiff Barrage go unused, Callisthenics Parks attract people from wide areas. The sort of equipment people will use include monkey bars, chin up bars, etc.

      There is demand for the following:

      • Jeff says:

        Such a voracious call for it, Ian, that every time I pass the “outdoor gym” on the barrage – and I do so frequently – it’s empty. They’ll need to sort out the paintwork soon – all that rust from the sea air.

      • Ian Perry says:

        Hi Jeff,

        I’m not sure that you read my earlier post carefully enough.

        I am very critical of the novelty outdoor gym on the barrage (and at Dinas Powys). It’s a waste of space and money. Let the novelty gym items rust away and replace them with the equipment that I have shown in the pictures above.

  4. cariad. says:

    If the Kymin belonged to the Penarth people why have the vale got their hands on it, just another of Penarth’s assets lost to us thanks to the useless Penarth Town Council. It seems that The Vale will always find money for anything that is needed in Barry.

  5. Rob says:

    That photo of the outdoor gym is hilarious. 🙂

  6. Mgg says:

    Shouty mcgreagsby must still be in bed .come on wheres your regular vitriol ?

    • George says:

      Remember there’s no all-night bus from Cardiff yet. She’s probably still on Penarth Road.

    • Anne Greagsby says:

      It is so easy to abuse people when you use a fake identity.

      • Mgg says:

        You only started to use your own name on here to promote your political aims . Why don’t you offer up some organised plans and ideas instead of just moaning. Even below you start with a considered appraisal of the town plan but you can’t resist “ooh we might have a zip wire . ” and you know exactly who I am !

  7. Peter Church says:

    Once again I’m truly shocked as I set up the standing order for my council tax bill and huge monthly payments.
    They don’t have money to fix the pavements or roads but Labour seem addicted to wasting money on stupid vanity projects. Remind you of any one Labour Councillor Lis Burnett?
    I would insist we have a compulsory IQ test for Councillors who progress to any form of executive cabinet role. The stuff they come out with beggars belief.

  8. Jimbo says:

    Has someone put the clocks forward already? The last two posts are up at 1336 and 1350 but it’s only 1329 in Lower Penarth.

  9. Anne Greagsby says:

    My recollection of the Penarth town Plan is that the Cllrs plan is to renovate the Kymin for weddings not for community use. Probably will have a zip wire as well. Need to raise the money to pay all those staff. I oppose commercialisation of our parks regardless of the activity proposed. Perhaps those Vale Cllrs could cough up some funds from the £millons in their reserves. It is/was Cllr Burnetts ward.

    • LJS says:

      I believe you are wrong. Some commercialisation is essential to run our parks and amenities. The question must be what degree of commercialisation is acceptable. Cosmeston has commercialisation. We have to all live in the real world… Councils cannot commit vast sums to parks. Why do you need to snipe against Cllr Burnett? I am not a labour supporter but Ann… you seem to be a proponent of negativity.

      • Jonny says:

        I believe you are wrong LJS. You talk of “some commercialisation” being “essential” to run our parks but why were the parks put there in the first place? Certainly not to act as centres of constant, blaring activity. They were designed – at a time when there was surely far less intrusion on the senses than there is today – to be oases of calm; places where people could enjoy Nature alongside wildlife. I don’t think you need me to tell you the number of medical studies which have shown the “de-stressing” benefits of being outdoors in green spaces.
        Precisely because – as you put it – ‘we all have to live in the real world’ , it seems to me the parks are becoming increasingly precious, and rare, places of greenery and quiet.
        Why do you feel the need to snipe against Anne Greagsby who – though I am no Plaid Cymru supporter – has had some impact already, namely delaying the grotesque Northcliffe development and attempting to protect Cosmeston.
        It’s not all about making money – perhaps we should think of wildlife and a balance between oxygen and concrete, not least considering the endless development in this town.
        I believe one certainly needs a degree of what you call “negativity” – i.e. questioning and challenging what is being put forward,. Do you propose we all smile like simpletons and agree to everything that is foisted upon us? Perhaps if the Vale/Burnett consulted before the monstrous viewing platform – as an example of an enormous and misguided waste of OUR money – they wouldn’t need to raise cash by turning our diminishing green spaces into theme parks.
        There seems to be a bullying campaign towards Anne Greagsby building on here. With respect, I hardly think you, or your associates, are in a position to take the pious high ground.

    • Tom says:

      Anne can i ask how long have you lived in Penarth? I have tried to contact Plaid Cymru on numerous occasions with this question but still no joy..

      • 92 and a social butterfly says:

        Oases of calm are dementia friendly but they are increasingly rare.

  10. Tony Harris says:

    Well it’s all good stuff but you have to be in power to stand any chance of making a difference. Maybe some of the contributors to PDN should put their money where their mouth is otherwise the same old faces are going to be back after the local elections on May 4th.

  11. Anne Greagsby says:

    Try to be accurate. I did say I oppose commercialisation regardless of what the activity is. Its good to have a cafe, ice cream sales, that sort of thing.We have commercialisation in Cosmeston and saw the labour party recently give a franchise to a Bradford company. I am certain a local company could do just as well. We would make it clear that its a NO to wake boarding and other noisy disruptive events. We have to draw a line somewhere. No one sensible wants fairground stalls etc in Cosmeston, Leave that to Barry.

  12. Mgg says:

    Oh yeah if anyone can recognise bullying its certainly our plaid candidate .

  13. Mrs says:

    Am I confused or not – but we still haven’t had any sort of sensible answer from Ms Page about her fund-raising for new cancer unit – with posh dinners at The Dorchester in London and St Davids Hotel in Cardiff. Did she raise any money? When is building to be started?

    And does Ms Greagsby live in Penarth, and if so how long, thought she lived in
    Cardiff with her family or am I wrong again – if so how long PDN or anyone else do you have to live somewhere before you can stand for public office?

    Seems like straight forward questions, simple answers please ladies?

    • Mr says:

      Am I confused or not – but we still haven’t had any sort of sensible answer (actually, I should correct that to NO answer at all) from Tony Hazell about how he managed to spend enormous amounts of money on the Pier project – with funds for a cafe and other money-making schemes like a cinema. Where did all that money go? What does he plan to do about it? Why haven’t we heard from him?
      And who are the other silent voices on the PACL board?
      Yo, Mrs, why are you concentrating on the “ladies”?
      Seems like straightforward questions, simple answers please gents?

  14. Mrs says:

    Ok Mr. I reiterate simple answers please from the ladies and Mr. Hazel
    Enough of this marketing gobbledygook and politician points gaining, just simple answers will do for me

  15. Arthur King says:

    Isn’t it strange, Anne Greagsby is quick to make comments on almost any topic, but when someone asks her a question on where she lives etc. there seems to be silence. Voters are entitled to have information as to where candidates live and their commitment to the town.

    • Sidney says:

      I don’t blame her one bit. Would you want PDN contributors knocking on your door?

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