Updated: Feb 22, 2021
Visiting the Garden of Remembrance one day in 2012, Chris Wyatt of Penarth Civic Society thought it looked rather unloved.
The hedge on one side had grown high enough to obscure Rectory Road and the large conifer at the end cut off the light and the view to the sea. As a memorial garden it all looked quite sad. He knew there had also been a problem for the wreath bearers on Armistice Sunday.
Numbers had grown steadily over the years and the design of the garden meant they had to jostle shoulder to shoulder in a confined space to space to lay their wreaths while the flag bearers were crowded out.
Immediately, having conferred with colleagues, Chris contacted the Vale Council to offer the Civic Society’s help in a project to renovate the garden. This offer was accepted and within weeks the hedges had been cut back and the trees including the conifer cut down before the birds could nest.
Meetings between the Vale and the Civic Society followed and the project was approved, Diana Mead of the Civic Society having produced plans to show how she thought the layout of the garden could be improved. She explained:
“My involvement in the refurbishment of Penarth’s Garden of Remembrance is one of my proudest memories. I felt honoured to be involved. My first step was to watch and photograph the event to see what was needed. This resulted in my new semi-circular layout for the wreath-laying ceremony which gave everyone involved a better view of the ceremony and made the distance each wreath had to be carried to be laid more equal. Phil Beaman and his Parks and Gardens team used old photographs of the original garden when it was first installed as a guide to to the general renovation. Their attention to detail, including Malcolm Drysdale’s impressive replicas of the original Art Deco benches, was incredible and enthusiastic. Watching the ceremony in its new setting and format was very moving and the comments from Penarth residents afterwards were very positive.”
Penarth Civic Society was happy to finance refurbishment of the memorial stone to complete the transformation.