It’s been a long while since I went to Penarth, and probably even longer since I went for a stroll along the promenade and pier, but yesterday we did just that and took my mother, brother and sister-in-law for a leisurely afternoon at Penarth. We were lucky enough to find a parking space right by the pier, which surprised me as I thought it would be very busy down there. Actually, it was all very quiet and sleepy and not a bit like I remember it in the 1970s when I used to visit the sea-front fairly regularly. At that time I worked for a short period in a local children’s home and took the kids down to the pier and beach quite often. The first photograph is of the promenade and the pier in the background, showing the art-deco pavilion built in the late 1920s which is currently being restored, hence the scaffolding. I’m in a black and white mode for this blog and took the pics knowing I’d probably remove the colour later.
As we were strolling along the pier I asked my brother when he was last there and he replied that he thought it was when we went on a boat to Weston-Super-Mare; now that was a year or two back, in fact it was pre-1960! The only time we ever went on a paddle steamer was on the White Funnel Fleet’s Glen Usk which commenced the journey at Cardiff and then crossed to Weston. On the return we were dropped off at Penarth and then bussed back to Cardiff to collect the cars, I say cars as we went with neighbours from up the road. The only really memorable part of that trip I recall was the fact my cousin Anthony who’d come with us, threw-up on Weston pier just before we returned, I guess I was about ten and he would have been two years older. Anyway, back to the present and the obligatory pier shot, with the two shelters either side; there were a few persons about and I didn’t wait for them to move, I might still be there, although not sure why I’ve colour-popped the kid on the scooter.
One good feature of the little Canon G12 compact camera is the articulated screen, which can be set to any angle to view whilst taking photos. One can stand holding the camera at waist level, much like the twin lens reflex camera I used to have in the 1970s until it fell to bits after excessive use and abuse. By holding the camera in the palm of one’s hand and after setting the levels one can nonchalantly take photos of the scene without persons in the frame being attracted or distracted by an eye-level camera. So it was with this family, they were strolling towards me and I was pretending to be lining up the shot for when they had passed, but snapped them as they were about to walk out of frame.
Finally, we’ll roll back the years and look at an interesting photograph from the family album taken about 85 years ago on the promenade at Penarth, showing the pier in the background before the 1920s art-deco pavilion and the shelters were built. The main subjects are the four persons strolling towards the camera and the little boy on the right is my father. At the time he was in Westbourne School in Penarth where he was a weekly boarder, going home at weekends; who the other persons are though is a mystery. The lady with her arm around my father’s shoulder is surely not his mother, my grandmother would never have worn a skirt as short as that even if it was summer and at the seaside. The girl and boy are also unknown to me, perhaps they were neighbours from Bridgend visiting Penarth for the day and taking my father out – who knows? I am assuming that this was taken by a beach photographer as the paper it is printed on has the word “Sunfilms” printed on the reverse, complete with the quotation marks. I haven’t attempted to remove any of the blemishes on this print, I think doing so would remove much of the charm and character of the photograph.