Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Wales Online
Wales Online
Lewis Smith

'It'll rip the heart out of our town' - people react to impending closure of Porthcawl's iconic funfair

It's a scorching summer's day in the popular seaside town of Porthcawl, as hundreds of tourists and locals come out to enjoy the beach, even on a week-day afternoon.

For some there is a sense of relaxation and enjoyment here as the holiday season begins to get underway, though for others in the area there is a sense of sadness, after news broke earlier this year that one of the town's most iconic attractions, The Coney Beach Amusement Park, is set close.

The announcement came in March after Welsh ministers confirmed they had secured the ownership of sections of land based on a 20 hectare site, at the heart of the area for Bridgend Council’s regeneration in Porthcawl.

Read More: Application submitted for new nightclub venue in Bridgend town centre

These sections include the lands at the amusement park and the adjoining section of land known locally as the monster park, though it is expected that the amusement park, a popular feature in the town for more than 100 years, will continue to run for up to three years before any work starts.

If given the go-ahead the land could be used as part of a proposed mixed-use development in the area, that is expected to feature a new housing estate, retail business facilities, a new primary school, and a number of recreational and leisure opportunities.

However, many locals fear the closure of the well known amusement park could be a major blow to the local economy, and could even damage the unique character of the town if not handled correctly.

Jeannie Monks of Porthcawl (Lewis Smith)

Jeannie Monks lives in Porthcawl and says it could be devastating for many here in the long run, saying: "The fairground has been the heart of Porthcawl for years and years, with thousands of visitors coming throughout the summers - and I think taking away the heart of the town in the fairground is a big mistake.

"We don't want a luxury resort, we want the town we've always had, and with the fairground gone we have to ask ourselves what is left for visitors? Every child who grew up in Porthcawl would have spent their teenage years at the fair, so it's part of our seaside town, and it is going to rip the heart out of it I believe."

Taryn Priday of Tonyrefail (Lewis Smith)

Taryn Priday, 20, works in a café on the seafront in Porthcawl and says he fears the closure of the park could also have an impact on local businesses if the number of tourists begins to drop.

He said: "In the summer it is really busy here in Porthcawl, and of course alongside the beaches the funfair is a big part of that draw, bringing a lot of people in for a day out. They love it and it is undoubtedly one of the biggest attractions we have.

"When it goes it will be a real shame not only for us in a business sense because less people might come, but also because of the memories people have made. People have come from all over Wales and England for a day out in Porthcawl over the years and a big part of that will be because of the fair.

"As I said it's a shame to see it go, and while I know the land has been sold on, I would personally like to see it maintained as a funfair or a similar sort of attraction for tourists."

Jadzia White (Lewis Smith)

Jadzia White, 20, who works at a seafront ice-cream vendor added: "When it closes it will be very sad, because of all the memories people have from it in the town, and the loss of such an iconic landmark. We've all got memories growing up visiting Porthcawl funfair and it's sad that future generations won't be able to do the same thing now.

"People come for a day out to the beach and the fair when the weather is nice, then they walk down the front and use the shops, so it could impact all of us in the long term. I'm not sure exactly what will go in its place but hopefully it's something that works for everyone and not just flats or housing."

Porthcawl Town Councillor Brian Jones (Lewis Smith)

Porthcawl Town Councillor Brian Jones says he has followed the regeneration plans for Porthcawl over the last few years and while he would like to see the amusement park kept in some form he doesn't think it will ever be replaced.

He said: "The fairground has been here since the 1920s and over the years it has had a massive impact on Porthcawl with secondary spending and also the enjoyment of visitors. In my opinion now that the fairground is going Porthcawl will not become a premier resort as the council has said.

"In all the plans they say they want it to be a premier resort but I fear it could just become an urban town, and I can't see the fairground being replaced. For me I think the council has missed out with their Local Development Plan, and I think they need to go to the people of Porthcawl for further consultation to hear what it is they want."

A spokesperson for Bridgend Council said: "In line with our Placemaking Strategy, consultation has been at the heart of our regeneration programme for Porthcawl and we have engaged extensively with local residents and businesses on a wide range of issues.

"This has included asking people what new features and facilities they want to see as part of the new public open space that is being created along the waterfront regeneration area as well as on more technical issues such as the compulsory purchase order process, how land will be officially used for development and more.

"The council remains extremely ambitious for its regeneration plans in Porthcawl, and we fully intend to continue to consult with organisations, businesses and communities in order to deliver sustainable regeneration and development."

Speaking directly after the announcement of the closure in March, Pat Evans, of Coney Beach Amusement Park, said: "Generations of our family have lived and worked alongside each other here at Coney Beach for over 100 years. We will be forever proud of our showman heritage and the memories that we have created for all our customers who have visited us and shared in our love of the ‘fun of the fair’ and the legacy that Coney Beach leaves.

"We are confident in Welsh Government and Bridgend County Borough Council’s ability to deliver on the community ambitions as we move into this new era, and were pleased to agree to operate Coney Beach for a few more years to give continuity for the town before the redevelopment commences. May Porthcawl continue to prosper." You can get more Bridgend news and other story updates straight to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletters here.


Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.