Porthcawl is located
on the southern coast of Wales, twenty-five miles from Cardiff, on
the western edge of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. The city as it
exists today began its life in the nineteenth century as a coal
port; however, other cities eclipsed its importance in this industry
by the 1880s.
The old town is now hidden among the dunes of Kenfig Burrows along
with Kenfig Castle, northeast of Porthcawl, an early twelfth century
castle built here by the Normans. The castle was frequently place
under attack by the Welsh. Through the thirteenth century, Kenfig
was gradually engulfed by the dunes and fell to ruins, which can
still be seen today. These dunes were once considered part of the
largest dune system in Europe.
Just a few miles from Porthcawl, is the village of Newton, which
also dates back to the twelfth century and includes Saint John the
Baptist Church, established over eight hundred years ago by the
Knights of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. The church was
originally built as a fortress and overlooks the Newton village
green. The well serving the church was once reputed to have healing
properties. Portions of the classic movie Lawrence of Arabia were
filmed in the nearby sand dunes.
Near the entrance of the harbour, the Jennings Building is an
impressive building constructed between 1830 and 1832 for use as a
warehouse. It is now the local Skating Centre. The building is
widely considered one of the few surviving dock buildings from this
era southern Wales.
The Porthcawl Pier is the home a lighthouse that was originally
constructed in 1866 and remains in use with some modification to
this day. The city is also a port of call for the historic ship, the
PS Waverley, the last ocean-going paddle steamer in existence. The
Waverly is among the most photographed ships in the world. In recent
years, the ship has suffered many minor accidents, but remains in
Porthcawl's promenade was constricted in 1887 to commemorate Queen
Victoria's Golden Jubilee. The promenade follows the seafront and
eventually joins the eastern promenade. The promenade underwent much
needed renovation in 1996 and remains a popular place to visit. Some
local hotels date back to the 1880s when Porthcawl began to earn its
reputation as a seaside resort, catering to miners and their
families in particular. The city continues to attract large numbers
of holiday visitors, who come to enjoy the resorts, beaches, and
other entertainment available in Porthcawl and vicinity.
Seven major beaches surround the Porthcawl area, including remote
Sker Beach, where a plaque can be found commemorating the tragic
shipwreck involving the SS Santampa, wrecked in dangerous maritime
conditions, and the doomed rescue attempt made by the the Mumbles
RNLI lifeboat on April 23, 1947. Forty-seven people died on both
ships. Portions of the wreckage remain visible at low tide with
pieces continuing to wash ashore when the tide is very low.
A more recent disaster still looms large in the city. The incident,
known as the Porthcawl Mid-air Collision, occurred on February 11,
2009 when two Royal Air Force training planes collided, killing two
young teenage cadets and their instructors. The accident was caused
by visibility issues with the air crafts, which operated without use
of collision-prevention equipment.
2010 held by David Bloore all rights reserved