Station Spotlight: Llandudno
Did you know, only one train can travel on the 31 mile long Conwy Valley Railway at any one time?
Your journey begins on the coast at Llandudno and ends at Blaenau Ffestiniog in the heart of Snowdonia, before making the return journey, but many of the stops along the way have amazing stories to tell and things to see too. This journey is about much more than just sitting back to enjoy the scenery!
In this series on the blog, we’ll be taking a closer look at each of the ten stops along the Conwy Valley Line, sharing the fascinating history of the stations and the surrounding area.
If you alight at any of the stops along the line you can expect a stopover of approximately three hours, so we’ll also be looking at things to see and do close to the stations. We want you to have fun but we don’t want you to miss your train back!
As you might expect, we’re beginning our journey with the first station on the line – Llandudno.
Llandudno Station – the history
Llandudno Station opened in 1858 as a stone built, single-storey building. It was originally built to make the resort a place where ordinary people could visit cheaply and easily. In the early days, there were so few trains that horses were often used to pull carriages along the track.
The building that we see now was built in 1892 and was covered by an impressive glass canopy. Apparently, this was because Lord Mostyn wanted to protect his sophisticated resort from the smoke of the trains! Sadly, this was mostly demolished in 1990.
There were five platforms, with a train arriving every four minutes in peak times. A cobbled road, which can still be seen today, was built between platforms Two and Three to permit cabs to line up alongside the train carriages.
In the not too distant past, Llandudno Station was where many North Wales businessmen started their daily commute to Manchester. At 07:40 every weekday morning, a train known as the Clubman, left the station and the members of ‘The Club’ would take their permanent seats.
Each morning, their regular newspaper would be left on their chair and they were also given a locker in which to store their tobacco, pipes or cigars – imagine that now! Club members were also served breakfast in their seats. The clubman coaches were taken out of service during the Second World War but the 07:40 train still went to Manchester and was fondly referred to as the Clubman until it stopped in the mid 1960s.
In 2014, a multi-million pound revamp of the station was completed by Network Rail. Sensitive to the heritage of the station, developers incorporated some of the original features, such as the semaphore signalling and manual signal box.
- 130 Pay & Display car parking spaces;
- Pay phone (accepting cards and coins);
- Toilets (for opening times, click here);
- Waiting room(for opening times, click here);
- Ramp for train access;
- Step free access;
- Bicycle stands.
Llandudno through the years
Llandudno is the biggest seaside resort in Wales, and is often referred to as ‘the Queen of Welsh Resorts’. It’s a resort which simply oozes history, stretching as far back as the Stone Age, but is best-known for its Victorian heritage and architecture.
The Great Orme Mines show that both Bronze and Iron Age man lived and worked in the area. Mining started around 4,000 years ago, and stopped in the 1850s when they couldn’t get any more out of the rock. You can still visit the mines on the Great Orme – they’re the oldest ones open to visitors in the entire world!
Before it became a trendy Victorian resort, plans for Llandudno had been very different. The town was intended to be one of the major ferry ports to Ireland but a fierce storm damaged the pier and put a stop to the plans. The ferry terminal was moved to Holyhead and Llandudno built itself up as a fashionable seaside resort for discerning Victorian holiday makers instead.
Llandudno has endured as one of the most popular holiday resorts in the country and it’s easy to see why. The combination of stunning scenery, a rich history and charming attractions holds an appeal for young and old alike and many people return year after year.
In and around Llandudno
Llandudno is a great place to spend a few hours. There’s so much to do that you don’t really need to travel far from the station. Whether you fancy a play on the beach, a walk along the pier, a spot of shopping, a bite to eat or to take in the spectacular views, the town has it all.
The Victorian pier on the North Shore is a great place for a leisurely stroll. The 700 metre long pier is the longest in Wales and there are arcades and fairground rides a-plenty, and kiosks selling all sorts of things from fridge magnets and books, to shells and windmills. There’s a cafe bar at the end to enjoy a cuppa or pint before heading back to the mainland – during the summer a jazz band plays here regularly too.
Of course, no visit to Llandudno would be complete without a trip up the Great Orme. Head for the summit to be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of the sea and surrounding area. On a clear day you can see as far as Liverpool!
Open from April to October (weather permitting – it certainly won’t be moving on a windy day!) Llandudno’s famous cable car is, without doubt, the best way to make your ascent. The cable car starts in Happy Valley, gently ascending to the summit, while surrounding you with photo opps aplenty.
At the summit, spend a few hours exploring the windswept landscape, write your name in stones at Bishop’s Quarry or spot one of the cheeky Kashmir goats roaming the area.
Relax at the Summit Complex – there’s a cafe and a boxing-themed bar (the complex was once owned by boxing champion Randolph Turpin), a playground for the kids, mini-golf, a visitor centre and souvenir shop.
On the way back down, pop into The King’s Head, the oldest pub in Llandudno at the very heart of the old town centre. Serving real ales and delicious home-cooked foods, it’s a great place to meet the locals and learn more about the history of the town.
If shopping is more your thing, you won’t be disappointed. The town centre is crammed with famous names and private shops, plus some really good eateries too. Chainstores can be found just outside the town centre, with Parc Llandudno and Mostyn Champneys home to all the big names, including Primark, Debenhams and TK Maxx.
All aboard! Next stop, Deganwy Station!