Alice’s holiday home

So sad.

Final chapter for Alice’s house

‘Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop’.
So the King of Hearts tells author Lewis Carroll’s famous character Alice.
The end is also in sight for a former hotel building at the Queen of Welsh resorts, Llandudno, said to have links to Lewis Carroll.
Penmorfa was the holiday home built by the family of Alice Liddell, the little girl who is widely thought to have inspired the Alice in Wonderland character.
Cadw, the the historic monuments’ agency, says it found no evidence that Lewis Carroll, the pseudonym used by the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson to write the tales, ever visited the house.
It has not stopped supporters of the now dilapidated building from vociferously campaigning to save it from demolition.
Penmorfa itself is built at the foot of the Great Orme, on the “other side” of Llandudno.
West Shore seems a world away from the larger, busier North Shore with its hotels, long beach and donkey rides.
Walking along the front on a typically dry, but windy, summer’s day it is easy to imagine what Llandudno must have been like in its heyday of the Victorian seaside holidays.
Today only a couple of hotels remain on West Shore, the other buildings are houses or holiday apartments.
What remains however is old style grandeur with a small pool, a bandstand-style bus shelter and a memorial to Lewis Carroll’s Alice.
The White Rabbit – still minus his ears, despite now being encased in a metal cage to repel vandals – stands in view of the Penmorfa.
Tall, and imposing especially when close up, Penmorfa bears the scars of numerous incarnations since it was first built by Alice’s family.

The family kept the building until 1873, and later it was turned into the 37-bed Gogarth Abbey Hotel.
Anwyl Construction has permission to knock it down and replace it with purpose built apartments.
The new development will, they say, include visual features reminiscent of the old building, and there are plans for a plaque to tell people about its history.
Stripped bare – the developers had initially thought of incorporating part of the original building into the development – it is almost impossible to guess at the first layout.
Fireplaces have been bricked in several times, doorways moved, and the original staircase replaced on the lower floors with a concrete monstrosity.
Further up, the house the layout is still haphazard, even with the ‘modern’ partitions for the hotel’s bathrooms removed.

The views are amazing though, out over the sea towards Penmaenmawr and the mountains beyond.
Further up the house the wooden staircase is still in situ, covered in part with plastic to protect it when the building was stripped for refurbishment.
Pigeons enjoy the peace and quiet, cooing as they fly in and out of the broken windows.
Only in the attic does the old structure shine through, built in a time when timber was cheaper, especially for more well-to-do families, the whole of the roof space is lined in wood.
The original wood partition frames are still in place, and numerous small widows make it a snug and magical space, reminiscent of a ship.

The future of the Penmorfa is a ‘dream’ for some but a ‘nightmare’ for others.
Local businesswoman Alison Armer is of the view that knocking down the building is “sad for a tourist resort”, that should be using all its “heritage”.
Two local ladies, as they wished to be known, echoed her comments with “its a shame its been left so long”.
A couple on holiday from West Yorkshire said they’ve been visiting the town for over 20 years and they both agreed it was an “eye sore” however.
“If they keep the look of it, it would better that it is now”, they added.
A small creature – which could well have fitted into Alice’s adventures – may still save the day however.
Demolition is on hold as a bat survey is carried out.

Update: demolished November 2008

Person Lewis Carroll
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