Llandudno – From the Great Orme Mines to the Victorians
In a nutshell. Victorian pier and prom – and, would you believe, prehistoric mines on the headland above?
Picture-perfect Llandudno is just… well, perfect. Purpose-built in the 19th century as one of a new breed of seaside resorts, Llandudno is a 21st-century survivor. While many of the UK’s resorts have suffered decline, Llandudno confidently sticks to its guns and Victorian roots – and is all the better for it.
Lovers of Victoriana have a fine time here. All the classic architectural features are in place. Tall, gabled buildings, big bay windows, decorative ironwork, ornate plasterwork and canopied shopping streets, undisturbed by inappropriate modern development, create a rare sense of unity and harmony. Punch is still battling with Judy, there are donkey rides on the beach, and you can walk 670m/2,200ft out to sea on the immaculate pier, the longest in Wales that looks as fresh as the day it was first opened.
Little wonder that Llandudno goes 19th-century crazy each May when its splendiferous Victorian Extravaganza comes to town, a festival of marching bands and street entertainment, fire eaters and vintage fairground vehicles, striped blazers and frilly parasols.
Hop on the Great Orme Tramway – another charming period feature – to the headland above for an historic experience that’s much, much older than Victorian. Prehistoric man mined for copper here. The Bronze Age mines, open to visitors, give a thrilling glimpse into the life and times of our distant ancestors. Discovered in 1987, they have been gradually excavated to reveal what is thought to be the world’s largest prehistoric mine. The highlight of the underground tour is the amazing Bronze Age Cave, dug out by miners 3,500 years ago with rudimentary stone and bone tools.