Penarth Dock, South Wales - 150 years - the heritage and legacy  
Penarth Dock, South Wales - the heritage & legacy . . .

Volume Eight - Pre-Victorian to the present day - more aspects - Moments captured in time

The Beach, Penarth
Another postcard from my Penarth Dock Collection taken on a typical summer day (the postcard has a handwritten date on the reverse side of 19th June 1932) with children bathing in the Seven Sea at the north end of Penarth Beach. High above them on the headland is the Penarth Head Fort built in the late 1890's and equipped with two 6" guns in 1906 for the protection of Penarth and Cardiff docks. Situated on the beach are two lookout towers sitting firmly upon their concrete bases awaiting an invasion which never came. [000] [001]

 
The Penarth Lookout Stations
An enlarged section of the upper image showing the two lookout towers in more detail with a seemingly bustling Cardiff Docks and the 'Dowlais-by-the-Sea' iron and steelworks distant. The towers look as menacing as the Martian fighting machines from the 'War of the Worlds'. [000] [001]


 
Penarth Head steps

A part of an image from Ben Salter on Flickr dated 2012 of the remains of the concrete stairway from the lookout towers. Ben says that there were searchlights on these platforms. I found out that they were originally mounted upon the pier but relocated upon Penarth Head or to the lookout stations in 1917. I remember these steps as a child playing on the beach and wondering where they went too. By the mid to late-1950's the towers were no longer. [069]

 
Another view of the searchlights and the ferro-concrete structure built in 1917 to support them at Penarth Head.

Another view of the searchlights and the ferro-concrete structure built in 1917 to support them. Shortly after the outbreak of WWI in 1914, Penarth Pier was requisitioned. The Royal Engineers mounted a single searchlight at the end of the pier. The purpose of this was to protect the entrance to the vitally important Cardiff and Penarth Docks from enemy attack. Most ships were still fuelled by coal and the zenith of exports was around the same period. To enhance the searchlight efficiency it was moved (and another added) at the base of the cliffs below the Penarth Head Battery. This battery had two six inch QF guns approved in 1902 but not installed until 1906. The battery formed part of the Bristol Channel Victorian fortifications originally devised to counter an expected Napoleonic invasion. Panic ensued in 1844 when the Duke of Wellington suggested that Britain's coastal fortifications could not withstand a French invasion. [001] [636] [20180211]


 
'Searchlight Stairs'  -  Penarth Head.

'Searchlight Stairs - Penarth Head' - The People's Collection, Wales website description of this photograph states : 'Black and white photograph of the platforms and stairway to the clifftop and the searchlight installations on Penarth headlands'. It was uploaded by the Vale of Glamorgan Libraries [655] and states that the copyright owner is not known. [002]

The searchlights were actually mounted, not on Penarth Head as implied in the description above, but on the platforms at the base of the cliff which extended further onto the beach as the previous image clearly indicates. On the beach below are many shattered remnants of the collapsed ferro-concrete platform structures dating from 1917. This amazing view provides an insight into how fatigued the keepers of the lights, the lookouts, may have felt after their watch and the strenuous climb back to barracks at the top of Penarth Head. My legs and knees are aching just thinking about it! I'd guess this photograph dates from the mid-1950's as I can just remember the entire structure in a similar condition from my childhood. [item number : 835671] [048] [20181114]

 
Penarth Head.
Penarth Head - A 1930's postcard which shows the searchlight platforms in place under Penarth Head. Another heritage record from the Penarth Dock Collection. [001] [20181114]
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