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Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl
Porthcawl is located in Bridgend
 Porthcawl shown within Bridgend
Population 16,005 (2011)[1]
OS grid reference SS825775
Principal area Bridgend
Ceremonial county Mid Glamorgan
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district CF36 5xx
Dialling code 01656
Police South Wales
Fire South Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament Bridgend
Welsh Assembly Bridgend
List of places

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Porthcawl is a town and community on the south coast of Wales in the county borough of Bridgend, 25 miles (40 km) west of the capital city, Cardiff and 19 miles (31 km) southeast of Swansea. Situated on a low limestone headland on the South Wales coast, overlooking the Bristol Channel, Porthcawl developed as a coal port during the 19th century, but its trade was soon taken over by more rapidly developing ports such as Barry. Northwest of the town, in the dunes known as Kenfig Burrows, are hidden the last remnants of the town and Kenfig Castle, which were overwhelmed by sand about 1400.

Holiday resort

Porthcawl is a holiday resort in South Wales and is home to a large static caravan park known as Trecco Bay. It has an extensive promenade and several beaches, two of which are Blue Flag beaches: a tourist-oriented beach at Trecco Bay, at the east end of the town; a sandy beach at Rest Bay, which lies to the northwest of the town; and the quiet and sandy Pink Bay leading out towards Sker Point where a tarmac-covered car park serves a sandy beach.

There are many hotels (including the prominent Seabank Hotel) and guest houses as well as a funfair called Coney Beach. Four rocky points line the shore: Hutchwns Point, Porthcawl Point (on which a lighthouse is situated), Rhych Point and Newton Point.

Porthcawl, like many British resorts has suffered a decline in its holiday trade over recent years, especially since most of the South Wales Valleys coal pits have closed. A major feature of the summer used to be the miners' fortnight when the miners would take their annual break in large numbers.

Local attractions

Tourist attractions in the area include sandy beaches, a grand pavilion, a funfair named Coney Beach (modelled after Coney Island in New York) a museum and three golf courses.

Porthcawl Promenade

Built in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, Porthcawl's promenade runs along the seafront from Lock's Common in the west to the harbour, before joining the Eastern Promenade and leading to Coney Beach and Griffin Park. The promenade was restored in 1996. Many cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels are located along the promenade, which offers spectacular views across the Bristol Channel.

The Promenade Princess Road Train runs along the promenade from Rest Bay to Coney Beach throughout the summer.

The Grand Pavilion, built at a cost of £25,000 in 1932, is the venue for popular shows, including the annual pantomime. The singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson once performed 'live' at the Pavilion via a transatlantic telephone link.

Controversial luxury flats now dominate the seafront on the site previously occupied by the Esplanade Hotel, which dated back to the late 1880s. The Royal Society of Architects in Wales awarded 'Esplanade House' a Welsh Housing Design Award in 2006, but the architecture has proved unpopular with many local residents who have nicknamed it "the bottle bank".[2]

Harbour Quarter

Porthcawl Lifeboat Station, purpose built in 1995, is situated near the harbour.[3] The station operates an inshore B class Atlantic 85 lifeboat and a D class IB1.[4] 'Cosy Corner' is a park area, which over the years has housed a theatre, cinema, roller skating rink and ballroom. The Jennings Building, built in 1832, is a grade II listed building and Wales' oldest maritime warehouse, and is currently vacant. The building has been identified as a potentially important facility as part of the Porthcawl Regeneration Strategy.[5]

At the end of Porthcawl Pier stands a white lighthouse built in 1860. The lighthouse is currently in use as a navigational aid. Porthcawl Lighthouse was the last coal and gas-powered lighthouse in the UK. It switched to being powered by North Sea gas in 1974, before becoming powered by electricity in 1997. The pier and surrounding area are popular spots for sea fishing.

The historic ships the PS Waverley, the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world, and the MV Balmoral sail from this area during the summer months.


There are 7 schools in Porthcawl: 4 primary schools, 1 comprehensive school and 2 private schools.

Porthcawl Comprehensive School

Porthcawl Comprehensive School on the western side of the town has approximately 1,500 pupils, ages 11–18 and 80 teaching staff. The headteacher is Mr. A Slade.[6] Both Ruth Jones and Rob Brydon attended this school. The Chairperson of the Governing body is Mrs M. Carlson. Porthcawl Comprehensive School is the only school to have received a new Band 1 assessment [7] in the Bridgend County from the Welsh Government.

St Clare's School

St Clare's School, Newton is an coeducational independent school, located in the village of Newton (an eastern part of Porthcawl), in Bridgend County Borough, South Wales. The school provides preparatory, secondary and tertiary education leading to GCSE and A-level qualifications. Originally a Roman Catholic girls' school, the school is now owned and operated by the Cognita Group.

St John's School

St John's School is a coeducational independent school, located in the village of Newton. The school provides preparatory, secondary and tertiary education leading to GCSE qualifications.School closed at the end of July 2014[8]

Nottage Primary School

Nottage Primary School is a state school located in Porthcawl. It provides education for ages 3–11 and is currently participating in the Foundation Phase. Nottage Primary School is a large primary school, with approximately 500 pupils, surrounded by extensive grounds. It has a conservation area and is in the process of building a pond. It has a large outdoor play area and a sensory garden. There is an outdoor classroom which is used for a range of activities.[9]

West Park Primary School

West Park Primary School is a state school located in the village Nottage, Porthcawl. The school was built and opened for teaching in 1971 and has since been extended to incorporate the growing needs of the surrounding area and community. The school has been awarded the 'Eco-schools Green Flag' and the 'BECTA ICT excellence award'.[10]

Porthcawl Primary School

Porthcawl Primary School is a state school located in Porthcawl. The school is a mixed school for boys and girls between the ages of 3 to 11 years which includes a Foundation Phase Area admitting pupils of nursery age.[11]

Newton Primary School

Newton Primary School is a state school located in Porthcawl. The school is a mixed school with approximately 235 pupils on role.[12]

Musical establishments

The Porthcawl Male Voice Choir, or Côr Meibion Porthcawl, is a Male Voice Choir formed in 1980 with 17 members. The choir currently has 45 members and draws on the talent of local male voices. Each year the choir performs with a celebrity guest, the latest of which was Leslie Garrett.[13]


Porthcawl Seafront.jpg

Porthcawl has seven beaches.

Newton Beach on the eastern edge of Porthcawl is a long sandy and rocky beach, backed by the Newton Burrows and Merthyr Mawr sand dunes, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, and ending at the mouth of the River Ogmore at Ogmore-by-Sea. Newton Beach and the sand dunes are popular with walkers and horse riders. The beach is popular with windsurfers, jet skiers and power boat users.

Trecco Bay is a large, sandy and rocky Blue Flag beach. Trecco Bay holiday park is situated alongside the beach.

Sandy Bay, with the area in front of the fairground known as Coney Beach, is a large sheltered and sandy beach. The beach has lifeguard cover from May to September and the water quality is rated as excellent. Sandy Bay is popular with families who can enjoy donkey and pony rides on the beach, alongside other facilities such as trampolines and bouncy castles and the adjacent Coney Beach Fun Fair. Sandy Bay is also popular with surfers. Sandy Bay hosts the ever popular Christmas morning swim where hundreds of swimmers, many in fancy dress, have braved the waters on Christmas Day since 1965, drawing in thousands of spectators and raising thousands of pounds for local charities.

Seafront Beach, also known as Town Beach, is a rocky beach in the centre of Porthcawl which was partly tarmaced over in the 1980s to repair sea defences. Swimming is prohibited at the beach and conditions are only suitable for experienced surfers due to the tides and sharp rocks.

Rest Bay is a sandy Blue Flag beach situated in the west of Porthcawl. It is a very popular for water sports, especially surfing. A 'surf cam' shows live conditions from Rest Bay 24-hours-a-day. A lifeguard station overlooks the beach which is patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months the beach .

Pink Bay is a quiet beach, 15 minutes walk from Rest Bay that has a steep pebble bank down onto a flat beach edged by a rocky shoreline. These rocks have a unique pink marbling effect – hence the name Pink Bay.

Sker Beach is the most westerly beach in Porthcawl and is accessible only by walking from Rest Bay or Kenfig National Nature Reserve. Its remote location makes it one of the quieter beaches in Porthcawl. A plaque, in memory of the 47 lives lost on the S.S. Santampa, capsized and wrecked in heavy seas, and the Mumbles RNLI life boat which attempted rescue on 23 April 1947, is visible at low tide. At very low tides wreckage is still being found.

Five rocky points line the Porthcawl shore: From east to west these are Newton Point, Rhych Point, Porthcawl Point, Hutchwns Point and Sker Point.

Scheduled Monuments

There are three Scheduled Monuments in Porthcawl Community area. including a prehistoric site and a Roman Villa.

  • Hutchwns round barrow (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found., SS813776) Only partly surviving mound of a Bronze Age round barrow, It is near a public par and a modern standing stone has been placed alongside it.[14]
  • Dan-y-Graig Roman villa (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found., SS840780) This Roman villa, a rare feature in Wales, dates mainly to 3rd-4th centuries and is in Newton. The site includes agricultural buildings. It was partly excavated in 1985-86.[15]
  • Nottage Court Inscribed Stone (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found., SS820781) A Roman milestone with 3 Latin inscriptions plus possible Ogham Its current location is in a garden at Nottage Court, moved there in the 19th century, from SS763890, now Port Talbot Docks.[16]

Newton village

Newton village dates from the 12th century. St. John's Church, founded by the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem 800 years ago, and originally built as a fortress, overlooks the village green.

The Jolly Sailor pub, the oldest in Porthcawl and the Ancient Briton pub also overlooks the green.

To the south of the church lies St John's Well, the water from which is reputed to have healing properties.

Newton village is home to St John's School, an independent day school that has been in the village since 1921. Newton is also home to St Clare's School which is also an independent day school.


Porthcawl Town Carnival takes place annually in July. A procession of themed floats and acts make their way around the town, collecting money for charity, and competing for the prize of best float. The procession makes its way to the carnival field where there are stalls, a fun fair and live acts to be enjoyed.

The Porthcawl Jazz Festival is held annually in April hosting a variety of musical performances, workshops and family events over a weekend.[17]

Surf Cult runs for a week in September. Events include surf contests, music, art, fashion and film plus an outdoor market. The festival ends with the legendary Surfers' Ball.

The Elvis Festival runs every September, attracts Elvis tribute artists and devotees from across the world, and is the biggest gathering of Elvis fans in Europe. The Elvis Festival was selected as one of the UK's top twenty summer festivals by The Times in 2008.

Other festivals include the Nottage Beer Festival and the Porthcawl Sea Festival.


Porthcawl is one of the top locations in Wales for surfing with both national and regional competitions held at Rest Bay.

Other alternative sports like skateboarding and rollerblading are also popular with the former PADS skate park by the Harbour and the new bowl park off Heol Y Goedwig.
There are three golf courses to the north of the town including Royal Porthcawl Golf Club, which attracts players from around the world.

Porthcawl is home also home to football side Porthcawl Town Athletic F.C. which boasts a 1st, Reserve and 3rd team as well as numerous junior teams.[18] Rugby also has a rich heritage with Rugby Union team Porthcawl RFC and Rugby League side Bridgend Blue Bulls both playing in Porthcawl.

Porthcawl is also home to lifeguard clubs that train the lifeguards that guard Coney Beach and Trecco Bay as well as Rest Bay and Sker beaches.[19]

Porthcawl hosts a free weekly Parkrun at 9am each Saturday. It starts on the Lower Promenade in front of the Grand Pavilion, heads out to Rest Bay and finishes near the Pier.[20]


Porthcawl waterfront is proposed for substantial regeneration as part of the 7 Bays Project. The Planning Guidance outlines proposals that will result in the comprehensive regeneration of Porthcawl's waterfront, stretching from Cosy Corner and the harbour in the south, to Trecco Bay in the east. The plan includes the construction of new sea defences, enabling regeneration of the area to take place and also protecting more than 440 existing properties from flood risk.[21]

The first phase of Porthcawl's regeneration, Porthcawl Harbourside, was launched on 28 March 2008. A 17-acre (69,000 m2) site has been marketed to developers for a substantial mixed use scheme. The scheme is envisaged to include a new foodstore, extra retail space, leisure and community facilities, up to 450 houses/flats, a new promenade, town square and car parking.

The scheme forms part of the 7 Bays Project for Porthcawl and the first phase in the regeneration of the whole waterfront. The regeneration project is one of the largest of its kind in the country.


The former Porthcawl railway station in 1946

Notable people

See Category:People from Porthcawl

Air crash

On 11 February 2009, two RAF Grob Tutor training aircraft collided over the area, one landing in Kenfig and the other landing in Margam. Two instructors and two teenage air cadets died in the incident.[23]


  1. "Town population 2011". Retrieved 7 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Rose, Steve (2007-01-31). "It's just so tacky". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Porthcawl Lifeboat Station
  4. RNLI newsletter
  5. public/documents/report/011452.doc Porthcawl Regeneration Strategy
  6. Porthcawl Comprehensive School website
  7. "BBC". School banding shows best and worst performers in Wales. 2011-12-08. Retrieved 03/01/2012. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  9. "Nottage Primary School". Nottageprimary.bridgend.gov.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. [2]
  11. "Home Page :: Porthcawl Primary School, Porthcawl, Bridgend". Porthcawlprimaryschool.co.uk. 2013-04-16. Retrieved 2013-04-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  13. "Porthcawl Male Choir, South Wales, Welsh Male Voice Choirs". Porthcawlmalechoir.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. coflein NPRN: 307249. GGAT PRN: 00194m . Cadw SAM: GM103: Hutchwns round barrow
  15. coflein NPRN: 403307. GGAT PRN: 00218m. Cadw SAM: GM587: Dan-y-Graig Roman villa
  16. coflein NPRN: 307251. GGAT PRN: 00038m. Cadw SAM: GM040: Nottage Court Inscribed Stone
  17. rcl. "Welcome". Porthcawl Jazz Festival. Retrieved 2013-04-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Porthcawl Town Athletic FC". Porthcawl Town Athletic FC. |first= missing |last= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Porthcawl Lifeguard Club". Porthcawl Lifeguard Club.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Porthcawl Parkrun". Porthcawl Parkrun.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Porthcawl Regeneration Scheme
  22. "Current Timetables | South & West Wales | FirstGroup plc". Firstgroup.com. Retrieved 2013-04-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Four die in mid-air collision in Britain". iol. 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2009-02-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links