In our second article about Llandudno, we are going to take a peak up the skirt of the ‘queen of Welsh resorts.’ We will take a look at the lesser known spots, secret places and quirky stories associated with this delightful resort town. We are willing to bet that most of the locals don’t know about all of the things in this article.
Artillery school/pill box
In 1940, the government decided that with the threat of invasion and bombing, the Royal Artillery’s Coastal Gunnery School should be relocated from Essex, to somewhere safer. The Great Orme was the place. At its peak over 500 men were training here and its estimated they were responsible for fathering 70 local children. The base was disguised as a village, complete with church with a large cross on the roof. Some very interesting features have survived to this day including an ammunition storage bunker, three artillery bunkers and a pill box.
As it is made of limestone, the remains of ancient creatures can be found within the rocks of the Orme, you have to know where to look mind, behind the quarry just across from the summit is where we recommend.
Various caves exist on the Orme, some natural, others man-made. The largest are near happy valley. If one is to cross the road that leads to the ski slope, a little path leads to these large caverns. Isaac and Miriam Jones lived in a natural cave on West Shore for 37 years after moving to Llandudno. This cave is now the garage of a house called St Petrock’s, on Marine Drive. The couple reared 15 children – including three sets of twins – in the cave!
Haulfre Gardens and Invalid’s walk
Haulfre Gardens were created by Henry Davis Pochin. He made his fortune as an industrial chemist, purchased Bodnant hall and was responsible for constructing Bodnant gardens – now a national trust attraction. Haulfre gardens is a lovely place for a walk and links in to invalid’s walk, where Victorian hospital patients would ‘take the air.’ Visitors today can ‘take the air’ and get panoramic views across Llandudno and the Conway estuary.
The Little Orme
The Little Orme is the headland separating Llandudno from Penrhyn Bay. Quarrying took place on the Little Orme in the late Victorian era. A deep natural fissure was uncovered in 1891, in which were found the skeletal remains of a woman dating from 3500B.C. Today the Orme is the Rhiwledyn nature reserve, it has a wilder feel than the Great Orme and you usually have the place to yourself.
The Grave of Beatrice Blore Brown (Bee)
This unique gravestone, depicting a winged wheel, keeps alive the memory of a woman who was keen to challenge what it was considered acceptable for women to do. In June 1914 Beatrice drove a 10 horse power car up the Great Orme’s Cable Hill which has a gradient of 1 in 3. The feat attracted many onlookers and she was praised as the first woman ever to drive a car up the Great Orme. She died of cancer at the age of 34.
The Cottage Loaf
This quaint little pub on a back street of Llandudno is built from the timbers of a ship that was wrecked in Llandudno bay. Recent investigations have also suggested that some of the timbers used in the construction are from the original pier built in 1858.
Walter Beaumont memorial
The Memorial plaque for Walter mysteriously disappeared from the side of the pier in 2013. Walter was a local entertainer. He would give spectacular high diving demonstrations off the pierhead at Llandudno. “Fire Dive” was one of his most famous stunts he would be bundled into a sack that was sprayed with flammable liquid and set alight before he dived into the sea. His daughters Alice and Lilly later joined him in the act. Alice is in the middle in the photo. He held many world records: Saving lives (120) for remaining underwater, for scientific and ornamental swimming and being the fastest swimmer. He lived in Llandudno for nine years and later toured the world with his shows. He was the Licensee of the King’s Head public house in Llandudno from 1898 to 1911. He is buried in St Tudno’s church yard on the great Orme.
The Flying Foam Shipwreck
The remains of a schooner called Flying Foam can still be seen at low tide, several hundred metres out to sea on the West shore. Built in Jersey, in 1879, it weighed 200 tons. In January 1936 it anchored off puffin island for repairs to a sail but was caught by a worsening westerly wind. The anchors dragged and the master, Captain Jackson, sent up distress signals. The Beaumaris lifeboat was launched and removed the crew of seven with the master and his wife. Attempts were made to save her but to no avail.
Suffragist pioneers’ meeting place
66 Mostyn Street, the first society for women’s suffrage in Wales was formed here in 1907. The first floor is now home to Mostyn Restaurant, where a model train circles above the main dining room for the amusement of diners.
Airship repair site Llandudno promenade 1918
On April 26 1918, an airship took off from Llangefni, tasked with searching for a German submarine. After several hours the engine seized and the engineer was unable to re-start it. As the craft drifted towards the North Wales coast, its May-day message was picked up by a trawler which came to its aid and towed it to Llandudno. A platoon of soldiers, was summoned to the end of the pier and took the tow rope from the trawler. The soldiers walked the airship, which was still airborne, to the promenade and tethered it close to The Hydro Hotel. People flocked here to see the huge balloon at close quarters. The police roped off the area and warned people about the dangers of smoking in the vicinity of the hydrogen-filled airship.
Llandudno Hill fort
Very few people seem to know about the ancient hill fort on the Great Orme. If you walk up the road to the ski slope, just before you cross the cattle grid a path leads up the hill to the left. This path leads to the remains of 60 round houses and the defensive ditches that surround them. This hill top also has some of the best views in all of Llandudno, a perfect place for a picnic.
The Rocking stone
Within the ancient hill fort sits the rocking stone, also called Tudno’s cradle. Tradition states that this stone was used as an instrument of judgement. The accused person would stand upon the stone, if it did not rock they were found guilty and thrown to their death over the cliff below.
Click here for our other guide to Llandudno