Now you see them – now you don’t: What the trees used to look like. And what they look like now

Regular visitors to Penarth’s Railway Hotel – the pub in the heart of Penarth’s architecturally sensitive Conservation Area  – may find something appears to have gone missing from the beer-garden of the well-known watering place 

Two tall trees have been almost entirely removed – completely changing the appearance of the outside of the premises.

Tree surgeons at work at the Railway Hotel yesterday. (Photo Anne Hudson)

The Stonegate pub company had made a planning application  to carry out the felling of a Lawson Cypress and Sycamore adjacent to the entrance of the pub .

The Vale of Glamorgan Council had given permission for the work – but had applied conditions saying that ” Bats must not be disturbed or destroyed during tree work” and that consideration should be given to the planting of suitable replacement trees –  given “the contribution trees make to the Conservation Area and their importance to wildlife”.

Even though the trees were in the Penarth Conservation area, the  felling application did not come before Penarth Town Council’s planning committee and seems to have been decided just by a Vale of Glamorgan planning officer acting alone – who may not have been familiar with the location or aware of the impact that the loss of these two trees has on the streetscape of the Conservation Area.

Black  floodlights have been left in situ on the tree trunks – but all the branches have been removed

A pair of black plastic spotlights and a string of decorative bulbs are now the only appendages to the trunks of the two former trees.

It so happens that proposed changes to the Railway Hotel’s  exterior had come up before Penarth Town Council’s planning committee less than 24 hours earlier.

The Victorian stone wall surrounding the beer garden of the Railway Pub is said to be “bowing” and an application has been made to re-build it. It once had iron railings set into the stone piers – but it’s thought those were removed during WW2 and used for the war effort.

The owners the Stonegate Pub Company applied for planning permission to demolish and re-build part of the original Victorian stone wall which surrounds the pub garden.

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell)

When the application for the wall re-build came before Penarth Town Council’s planning committee this week its chairman, Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell), said the wall was “bellying out” and appeared to be unstable.

Councillors heard that the existing stone would be salvaged and  re-used to build the new wall on a “like-for-like” basis.

The application mentioned that “a number of mature trees are growing around the edge of the area” and that two of them were causing the wall to buckle, crack and “lean outwards”. 

The entire site is within the Penarth  Conservation Area and the pub itself is listed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council as a “County Treasure”.

The “iconic” tree which Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) urged should have a Tree Preservation Order placed on it immediately.

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) was concerned about the most prominent tree in the garden of the Railway Pub – which he described as “iconic” .

He said there should be a Tree Preservation Order placed on this tree and, if necessary, he would get the Vale of Glamorgan Council to put a TPO on it immediately.”We cannot allow it to be destroyed” he said – and contractors would “just have to work around it” .It would be a “bad idea to try to destroy this valuable tree” – he said.

Penarth Town Cllr Anthony Ernest is standing for election to the Vale of Glamorgan Council in May

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said that so long as the pub garden wall was re-built “exactly as it is now”  he had no objection to the re-build. Cllr Ernest said there used to be railings along the wall which he suspected had been taken out for use as scrap-iron during WW2 and converted into “bullets or tanks or something”.  The area comprising the Railway Hotel, the garden, the wall and the trees all formed “a core part of  central Penarth”.  Cllr Ernest also urged that the original wall it should be photographed before work commenced to ensure that its replacement was identical.

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) said the council could require that “all steps necessary” to preserve the tree during the re-building of the wall must be taken “as a condition of our support for the application”.  

Cllr Neil Thomas said he would support Cllr Wilson’s call for a Tree Preservation Order to be placed on the “iconic tree”.

The “iconic tree” [ thought to be the one in the corner of the garden nearest the traffic lights]  is  still intact

A light dusting of sawdust and two stripped trunks is all that remains of the two 40-foot-high trees which once graced the entrance of the Railway Hotel beer garden

By by the time the Lawson Cypress and the Sycamore had both received the attentions of the tree surgeons – the roof of the John Coates Carter-designed  Railway Hotel building was left under under a layer of fine sawdust.


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  1. Anne Greagsby says:

    Once again dads army/Penarth town councillors let us down. Yet more Penarth trees lost from right under their noses. And they claim to care about the environment! Not a word until its too late.

    • Jamie says:

      I don’t know why anyone would be surprised by this council’s ineptitude.
      It is, after all, rather keen to be seen to support PACL, an organisation which has sucked up the millions of public money – without any inquiry into where it’s all gone – and taken the Pier to its knees.

  2. Simon says:

    I suspect that – mindful they will be quoted here – some have started affecting concern for environmental/conservation issues when I believe the truth is they couldn’t give one damn.
    Otherwise, it wouldn’t have happened would it?
    People would know trees were considered precious and the look of the town was important.
    They would know the councils considered it important to protect trees and heritage.
    Instead, people do as they please and take the place further down the pan.

  3. Tom says:

    How on earth were those trees allowed to be cut back like that???
    They were the only bit of green there.
    What’s this town coming to?
    That handsome house, worthy of County Treasure status, to be demolished.
    St Paul’s Church – to be demolished
    Ugly ‘social housing’ wings attached to the historic mansion on Bridgeman Road
    Just wait for the Northcliffe holiday apartments project to raise its Medusa head at appeal again
    The Cogan roundabout Hyson Green project
    Victorian lamp posts disappearing
    Ugly, costly lop-sided benches appearing
    And the place losing its trees turning into a grey, grey town where money speaks and councils spout platitudes after the event.
    What a place it has become. I hope house prices plummet to teach all the people sitting on their bottoms doing nothing about the councils taking the town to its knees.

    • Anne Greagsby says:

      Agree entirely with those sentiments. Nothing from the civic society tree group, they wouldn’t let me join, on this? What a waste of space they are too. And not a cheep yet again from the green party.

      • Rachel says:

        What do you mean, that the civic society tree group ‘wouldn’t let you join on this’?
        Why not?
        You have proven yourself an avid protector of the town’s trees and wildlife and yet you are barred from a meeting specifically on this subject?
        How can that be? Answers please, civic society. (I notice they were quick to defend Chris Loyn on here.)
        Can Penarth Civic Society please confirm if Anne Greagsby was excluded from the tree meeting and if so, why?
        I’ve just read about her being bullied at the town council meeting.
        Is treating this woman badly becoming a habit in this town?

    • Seth says:

      Yes, that would serve them right, people coming here for the schools and beach, waltzing round in their Boden outfits thinking they’re coining it in on their houses, so self-absorbed they don’t seem to notice the town is starting to look a right mess.
      It’s quite funny really.
      Penarth – the Gardens by the Sea dropping like a stone down the Sunday Times list.

  4. LJS says:

    …. and the councillors model themselves on Nero while Penarth burns

    • Matt73 says:

      Things are reaching critical mass in this town but it’s getting what it deserves.
      Look at the number of Labour councillors. They need voting out.
      Anyone would be better than that.
      Aside from the late-night bus business, I reckon the Greagsby is making a good fist of it, speaking up on environmental and heritage issues and shocking blights such as Northcliffe, which NOBODY ELSE mentions.
      All that vitriol posted on here about her tipped it for me.
      Mouthy fighter who doesn’t genuflect to the Labour old guard. Bring it on.

  5. Seth says:

    I’m waiting for the planning application for an extension to the Railway pub.
    What do we reckon? A two-storey glass and chrome design with balconies, hailed as a “vast improvement on what’s currently there” by Vale planners?
    Cllr Mark Wilson is right to raise concerns about the iconic tree. Can’t see that lasting much longer either.

    • Jonny says:

      Agree, it can only be a matter of time, with quotes from councillors to include: “Penarth has a vibrant night life and this well-designed addition to such a popular venue will further enhance the town’s appeal as a place to visit, thereby encouraging tourism to the town.’

  6. TOM C says:

    I have to admit and it pains me to say, i hope the Greagsby’s get’s elected. She seem to be the only candidate that’s in touch with the people of Penarth. Apart from her social housing and all night diesel bus service i think all her polices are on point. I only wish she was running as an independent instead of that dreadful plaid cymru, but anything is better than dads army and red wine drinker Lis.

  7. Frank Evans says:

    Labour not fit for any office

  8. CelticMan says:

    Another very bad decision affecting Penarth 👎

Comments are closed.