A mysterious set of set of old stone steps – leading to the very edge of the 200 ft precipice of Penarth Head – has been now been revealed by the clearances carried out by abseiling tree surgeons last week.
The short flight of steps has evidently lain hidden by undergrowth for many years and clearly must have continued downwards towards a lower level of the original cliff before it was claimed by erosion.
The steps lie on the seaward side of the iron railings and are now visible from the parapet of the Penarth Head viewing platform.
Also visible for the first time – on this now-cleared area of cliff-top – is a small flat plateau below the level of the cliff edge to the south of the steps. This area too might once have been part of a larger area of ground and it’s possible a now-missing section of the steps was linked to it.
In Victorian times the ground landlord of the Penarth Head area was Lord Windsor who in 1897 offered to give an area of the headland to the town as a public open space.
However in June 1900 the wishes of the War Office superseded all else and it acquired the plot which had been originally offered by Lord Windsor because it wanted to construct two massive gun emplacements on the headland (Penarth Head Fort). At the same time the War Office took into its possession a sector of foreshore on the beach below where it erected searchlights .
Lord Windsor then offered an adjacent plot of land on the highest point of the headland to the town – this time comprising the area then known as “Head View” and now known as “Penarth Head Park”.
In September 1902 the Penarth Urban District Council’s Parks Committee recommended that the council should buy the adjacent signal station house for £50 to add to the land given by Lord Windsor. The deal was sealed on September 5th 1902 and by the following month the Penarth Council Parks Committee had agreed the layout for the new Penarth Head Park .
A history of Penarth Head Park can be found on http://tinyurl.com/y9cy7p54