The final day of my Mothers coach trip holiday was a free day for shopping and sightseeing around their base town of Llandudno. As the holiday makers decided to take in the the delights of the restaurants, cafes and shops, I decided to discover a few sights that were new to me. This post is alternatively entitled "Two exterior delights with interior surprises ... love it or loath it !"
(Apologies for this post being a bit architecturally self indulgent, I can't help myself, I love this place !!
On a side note, even though I said I was officially back publishing material, like the subject material here, this post has taken me far too long to construct with many hours and visits to this draft ... I seem to be losing my photographic humour in favour of history and together with difficulties both on and off blogger including as you may have noticed my absence from all your blogs. My Mother has been in hospital for nearly a month now having had an operation last week with no sign of an early release. The Olympics are in full flow at the moment with the host nations athletes being inspired enough to do the best they have done in 100 years. However my local football stadium and indeed city (Newcastle upon Tyne) was decorated with London 2012 signs everywhere as it welcomed top teams such as Brazil. I realise that the snappy phrase was part of the successful Olympic bid, but it goes against some things that I try to portray in this blog to those from far away shores ... Great Britain or the UK is more than just about London !! ) Rant over, back to the blog :-)
As the railway branch line to Llandudno was being completed in 1858, the idea was conceived to design Vaughan street as an approach road to the railway station at the top of the street. This meant that the main street (Mostyn street) would link up with the railway station approach and consequently not isolate it in a corner of the town. Prior to this point, most passengers arrived by ship to the sea front and were taken ashore by rowing boats and so it was a great improvement to keep their feet dry ! While every effort has been made to preserve the quality of the railway service in modern times, the same can not be said about the railway station as the deterioration through the decades is obvious to see.
|Imperial buildings 1898 and Royal British Legion|
The trademark and beauty of this particular street today seems to be the terracotta facades rather than their forgotten history.
As president and patron of The Gwynedd Ladies Art Society, Lady Augusta Mostyn authorised the construction of this building which was completed in 1901-2 and was the first gallery in the world to display the work of female artists. This reason for this concept was the refusal to show such material at the male dominated Royal Cambrian Academy's exhibitions in nearby Conwy.
It was unfortunate that the concept didn't last very long and eventually closed to the public after just eleven years due to threat of the World War I. For the most part, the building has since been used for commercial storage purposes and requisitioned use in both World Wars as a training hall and a financial government building respectively.
In 1976 a respected Artist, Kyffin Williams, thought that the building should be returned to its original purpose and not the Piano shop that it had become. The influential voice was heard and as early as 1978, The Mostyn company was formed with occasional exhibitions being displayed the following year.
|Llandudno Post Office 1904|
Restoration and renovation began in 2007 with an innovative firm of architects Ellis Williams doing a superb restoration on the Victorian stonework and adding their own feature of a golden spire made from anodised aluminium tiles. The building was finally opened to the public £5.1 million later in May 2010.
|This way for tea and toilets ... Time to leave, that was a quick visit !|
|Victorian walkway looking to the railway station in the distance|
The Palladium on Gloddaeth Street at the other end of Mostyn street (the main street) to Vaughan Street was designed by another architect passionate about his town.
It was thought that Arthur Hewitt, who served on the local council for 36 years, designed The Palladium before World War I but only realised his dream in 1920 when the theatre was completed.
|Nostalgia moment set in stone|
This classical building once seated 1500 people who had an interest in theatre, music, comedy or ballet. Following World War II, film and newsreel became more popular and consequently the building was converted into a cinema.
During the 1960's with the arrival of television, there were worries about the survival of The Palladium but the owners decided to counter that threat by installing a larger screen 1960 installation of a 25 x 13 foot screen (7.6 x 4 metre) to counter the threat from TV.
|Stage door ? back entrance|
Like so many struggling theatres in difficult locations across the UK, many had to be converted into cinemas then subsequently Bingo Halls to try and keep the building going. One of the things about the 1960's and early 70's was that if a venue didn't work, the answer was very often to pull it down and build something else instead ... criminal. Thankfully these ideas played a holding role in keeping the building not so much alive but ticking over for the next owner.
There were worrying signs in 1993 for the future of The Palladium as the owner died, the building was placed into the hands of a leisure group and the other remaining cinema was converted into shopping facilities. Although it seemed like they had a monopoly on their business, the entertainment they offered was now available in the hotels as coach tours had to rescue the Llandudno accommodation market.
By the end 1999 the new owners could take no more and the building was eventually bought by food and pub chain giant JD Wetherspoon.
An incredible amount of work had to be done to remove the internal partitions and return the building to its former glory, tastefully preserving and restoring most of the original features.
|An excuse to visit the viewing gallery ... toilets !|
JD Wetherspoon have captured the niche market with cheap pub grub and even though I sampled it twice for an evening meal during this week, I felt that was sufficient for one week. Whether you have an opinion about Wetherspoons or turning theatres into pubs, there's no doubt that this solution is available for everyone to enjoy as opposed to a potential conversion into housing apartments that only the owners and their friends can appreciate.
|"Hey J, you're boring me now, let's hear a lot less and see something a bit more famous"|