The Windsor Estate originally created Cliff Walk, and undertook in 1897 to give it to the Penarth Council along with several other open spaces. In advance of the legal transfer of ownership, the Parks Committee initiated work to create public pleasure grounds on the land Lord Windsor was to donate. Proposals were presented by the Town Surveyor to the Parks Committee on 7th March 1899. Cliff Walk comprised the space from Cliff Road to the trees known as Seven Sisters, an area of 7⅓ acres. It was to be fenced along the cliff side with iron railings three feet nine inches high; there were to be six new seats in addition to the twelve already in place; the existing footpath was to be extended to a point within 100 yards of the Seven Sisters; a public shelter was to be erected near the entrance; three new street lamp posts were to be placed in Cliff Road; and three shrubberies were to be planted and fenced, with iron fencing four feet six inches high. The estimated cost of these works was £690.
A contract for carrying out these improvements was awarded to Mackay and Davies in June 1901, and the work was carried out over several years. Ownership was formally handed over on Sepember 5th 1902.
In November 1906 it was decided to place a dozen Wych Elms on the Cliff Walk. Chairs were provided for the public at the Cliff Walk and other open spaces for the summer of 1907: a Mr. Shanley's tender for £3 for the right to place chairs on the Cliff Walk and Penarth Head was accepted by the Council in June 1907. Between 1910 and 1915 a further nine seats were added and waste paper baskets were provided after the Parks Committee noted it was "desirable that all loose papers and refuse be collected periodically on Cliff Walk."
During the 1914-18 war a Coastguard Signal Station was built at the north end. It did not operate after March 1929, but the Government retained a lease on the building. In July 1930 the Parks Committee requested that the Government give up the site. Subsequently the Council decided to reopen the building as a kiosk for selling cigarettes and sweets. This continued until 1957 when there were two cliff falls in the vicinity of the building and the Council decided that it should be demolished. The Signal Station can be seen in the 1941 aerial photograph, adjacent to the putting green.
The Cliff Walk ended at Seven Sisters but the path continued beyond there to Lavernock. In 1922 that section of the cliff was found to be dangerous. The Llandaff and Dinas Powis Rural District Council, whose responsibility it was, wrote to the Penarth Council stating that the path would be "set back ... by ten feet from the edge of the Cliff where this was necessary through the falling away of parts of the cliff."
At the entrance to the Cliff Walk the triangular plot of land was retained by the Plymouth (formerly Windsor) Estate until 1970. The Council considered purchasing it in 1928-9, as a possible site for a putting course, but decided that the price was too high and an alternative location should be found. The land was then leased in 1931 and a privately owned 18-hole putting course was opened there which proved very popular. The putting course is plainly visible in the 1941 aerial photograph. In 1963 the Council took over the tenancy of this land and continued to operate the putting course. This arrangement came to an end in 1966 when the Plymouth Estate terminated the Council's tenancy and subsequently indicated that it wished to sell the land. The plot was purchased by the Council in 1970 and converted into a garden with a shrub border and seats.
Cliff Field is the large rectangular field bounded by Cliff Walk, Channel View and Plymouth Road, and was regularly used for public gatherings over the years. It was purchased by the Council in 1954, re-named Cliff Green, and continued as a location for Sunday School outings and other events until a miniature golf course was opened in 1956. The Parks Committee in February 1956 approved the layout and set the charges for the coming season (1 shilling per person per round). The official opening took place in late July / early August.
Other developments in the 1950s included the gift from the Plymouth Estate of two 50 foot wide strips of land adjoining Cliff Walk. As well as enlarging the Cliff Walk open space these were used to provide a turning place at the end of Channel View. Plans were drawn up to provide conveniences, shelter, attendant's office and a shop at Cliff Green. This work was carried out during the winter of 1957/58 and the lease for new shop was awarded in March 1958.
Sources of information