For the first time in many years figures have appeared again in the previously boarded-up windows of the 150-year-old Penarth Hotel, the massive grey stone building which subsequently became a children’s home.
The “faces” are window-sized photographs installed across the first floor of the building by the charity the National Children’s Home (NCH) as the charity’s tribute – commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War in November 1918 .
Although the hotel building itself is no longer in use, the hotel grounds are the location of Headlands School which continues to be run by NCH (Action for Children).
The huge hotel had originally been opened by the Taff Vale Railway Company in 1869 failed to prosper and closed during the Great War.
The building was then bought by Mrs Gladys Gibbs (nee Morel – of the Morel Shipping Company). Mrs Gibbs acquired the hotel in memory of her late husband Major J A Gibbs D.S.O., Welsh Regiment, who had been killed on September 20th, 1917, at the age of thirty-seven, during the attack on the Menin Road.
Mrs Gibbs then presented the building and its 5 acres of grounds to the trustees of the National Children’s Home as a memorial to her late husband, for use as an orphanage – a living memorial to the generation which bore the brunt of the greatest conflict in human history.
Mrs Gibbs said the home should be “used for the education and training of boys for the sea and engineering trades, preference being given to the needy sons of men who have fallen in the Welsh Regiment.”