We have several sub groups who have formed to take specific projects forward.
Each group leader sits on the executive committee to ensure that any activities are explained to the Society and coordinated efficiently.
Penarth Tree Forum
Our town has for a long time been known as the Garden by the Sea.
Residents and visitors alike enjoy our tree-lined Victorian streets. Many of these trees, planted over a hundred years ago, are now in need of attention. Sometimes the wrong species were planted, some have been allowed to grow over-large, a number have been removed and not replaced.
At the request of Society members, who were concerned about the loss of trees in general and street trees in particular, we set up the Penarth Tree Forum in 2016. The Forum has been working with the Vale of Glamorgan Council to encourage them to develop a strategy for trees, in particular street trees. The Tree Strategy for Penarth, produced by our group, is available here.
We liaise with the Council regarding trees that need attention or to suggest sites for tree planting. The Vale Council has now planted some new trees, on the Railway Path for example, and they intend to plant more early in 2021, although they are still not replacing street trees felled. We will continue to press the Council on this issue.
Particular emphasis is placed on involving local residents and the Friends of Victoria Square group came about as a result of one of our Open Meetings. We were fortunate in 2020 to be given some tree saplings by the Woodland Trust which were given away to residents. Our leaflet on Planting trees in front gardens is available on this site here.
Our latest project is to set up a Street Tree Warden Scheme so look out for more information about this coming soon. We are also collaborating with other environmental groups in the town so we can help each other.
The Strategy proposes a single overall target:-
"Within 10 years to achieve 'Woodland Town' status for Penarth."
By reversing the decline in tree canopy cover, and increasing it from currently 17.4% up to a target 20% Penarth could achieve 'Woodland Town' status under the UK Forest Standard.
If you would like to help with any of the above, please contact us via email@example.com.
Penarth’s beach has always been a magnet for locals and visitors. The silt provides abundant feeding grounds for wading birds, there are occasional sightings of seals from the pier and whilst we don’t have a lot of sand there are still lots of families who enjoy a day on the beach during sunny weather.
PCS Beach Wardens regularly monitor the condition of the beach and tidy up the rubbish washed up by the sea. They do this in their own time and meet up at intervals for a social get together.
You may have seen their Christmas tree entries in St Augustine's Christmas exhibition, using litter collected to decorate their tree. The trees try to show people the sort of rubbish that has have picked up over the year. In particular 2019 was decorated with fishing items which are on the increase and can be very dangerous not only to the safety of our planet but to small children and animals as the hooks and spiked weights can be hidden in the sand while the fishing lines tangle up the fish in the sea.
Over time they have also picked up the remains of disposable BBQs, sadly not disposed of but left to rust on the beach along with many bottles, cans and food debris. Nowadays litter includes the remains of take away food and drinks from the seafront outlets. The plastic food sachets left attract birds that swallow these with disastrous results. Items of clothing are regular finds and have included outer and underwear. We are still looking for the trouser less man whose pants were left on the north beach!
They collect individually this enables people to fit litter picking in with their individual work and social routines. Some of the wardens have dogs and use their walks to collect litter, with gloves and pickers provided by the Council.
The Wardens also keep an eye on the condition of the cliffs, looking for erosion as we do have the occasional landslip, in the spring they can enjoy watching the peregrines soar above their nest, please take a look at a wonderful film made by Andrew Salter
If you would like to get involved then please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
The Italian Gardens
This public garden on Penarth Esplanade was laid out and opened in 1926 on the site of old boathouses.
In the 1920’s two forward thinking women developed our wonderful Italian Gardens. The idea came from the Chairperson of the Council, Constance Maillard (1924-25) who consulted with Ursula Thompson, the first female gardener to graduate from Kew Gardens, who based her design ideas on gardens she had been restoring in Italy. Constance then approached Wilfred Evans, designer of a rock gardens in Llanishen, Cardiff to complete the final design.
The design and original layout survives more or less intact. In recent years the style of planting has changed in line with a changing climate and budget restraints. Annual bedding plants have been replaced with drought tolerant perennials. Many of the larger trees and shrubs are original.
Cordylines (Cordyline australis or ‘Torbay Palm’s) are planted at intervals in the beds and are a feature of the garden and at the north end is a Chusan palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)
The original design featured cast decorative concrete urns on the edge of the terrace and the original elaborate railings along the lower boundary were replaced with new “wave design” railings in 1994 when the original railings succumbed to rust caused by the salty sea air. A year later the gardens were made more accessible for all to enjoy.
Penarth Civic Society works in partnership the local authority, undertaking routine maintenance and new planting. We aim to plant more in keeping with the original design intentions.
The first of these working parties was carried out in December 2019 when 25 volunteers turned up. All the dead plant material was cleared from the garden in just 2 hours!
Over the years the yew trees have grown and spread. It is our aim to prune these back to a more manageable size and control the spread of Cordylines.
In early 2020 the rear banking succumbed to a land slip following continued heavy rain. The local authority were swift to resolve these issues but the work was costly. Any volunteer input to help these gardens is gratefully received by the authority.
The gardens are Listed Grade II with CADW.
A number of very interesting historical images of the Italian Gardens are available here.
Geoffrey Cheason. Project coordinator. Jan 2021.
FoVS are keen to engage with the local community who use and enjoy the Square.
Prior to the Covid pandemic we held a number of open meetings and events such as the “Big Picnic” in the summer of 2019 and very seasonal “Carols in the Square” in December 2019. Just prior to lockdown volunteer activities began with a successful “bramble scramble” in January 2020 when a group of 24 volunteers worked to clear trees and bushes of invasive brambles and weeds.
With the assistance of a landscape architect plans have been developed to make the Square an even more pleasant space for the community to enjoy. Along with two new noticeboards, erected in the summer of 2020, visitors and local residents are kept informed of developments with a website and growing social media presence.
As a sub-group of PCS, FoVS applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2019 and secured funding to undertake tree, biodiversity and topographical surveys.
The tree survey identified a considerable amount of tree maintenance work some of which was deemed to be urgent or high priority - that work has been undertaken by Vale of Glamorgan Council who own most of the Square.
Further funding has been obtained from the “Local Places for Nature” fund (a joint Heritage Lottery and Welsh Assembly Government initiative) to continue with the less urgent tree maintenance work and undertake aeration drainage of some areas that frequently water-log.
A variety of horticultural proposals will be developed by the gardening group including translocation of self-seeded saplings; a community garden; hiburnacula; a bog garden; stumperies and growing areas for wild and cultivated flowers.
If you are interested in getting involved please visit our website or Facebook page - you don’t have to be a resident of the Square to join in.
Railway Path Project
Railway Path Project Penarth was first formed in November 2016. It formed on the back of the hard path surface that was a major part of the route becoming a cycle network route.
The new all weather surface proved popular with everybody making a traffic free accessible route between Cosmeston Estate and Penarth town centre. The route also provides an important wildlife corridor in an otherwise built up area.
The group aims to encourage the keeping of the environment clean and litter free. Also to encourage people to see the wildlife corridor as a valuable asset to be treasured and protected. Finally, the group aims to replant native hedgerow in cleared areas and has been planting bulbs in Sully Terrace for the enjoyment of path users and residents alike.
Our first event was a big clear up which saw the removal of seven council trucks worth of tipped rubbish from along the path. The event was a huge success with more than thirty volunteers turning up to help on the day. There followed two further clear ups and two spring bulb planting sessions. Three native tree sapling plantings have also taken place.
The group works with the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Keep Wales Tidy, a variety of local businesses, The Woodland Trust, Pedal Power and Sustrans. All of whom have donated time, sent volunteers or supplied manpower and equipment. The group is particularly grateful to the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s parks department who have been entirely on board and supportive from the moment the idea for the group was first mentioned.
Local individuals and members of the Penarth Scouts and Ysgol Y Deri School have provided bird and bat boxes which you can find situated along the path.
Activity has been halted during 2020 to avoid mingling in groups. We look forward to resuming our activities when it is safe to do so.
The groups meets a few times a year to tackle one of the above mentioned tasks.
Meetings are both enjoyable and satisfying. Volunteers bring flasks of tea and snacks whilst the council provides gloves and litter pickers plus any equipment required for the task at hand.
Anyone who wishes to join the group can follow our Facebook Page:
Railway Path Project Penarth, where you can also send a message or email the Penarth Society for further details.