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How Porthcawl became one of the UK’s best waterside holiday destinations

March 19, 2019

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Porthcawl History

It's considered one of the best surf destinations in Wales, home to one of the UK's highest ranking golf courses and a paradise for holiday makers. This summer, Rest Bay in Porthcawl will launch its brand new watersports centre. From acquiring its name to one of the UK's oldest surf schools, we've been looking back at its eventful history. Here's how Rest Bay got to where it is today.

Rest Bay gets its name

  • 1878 - 'Long Bay' offers a resting house for ill and injured workers, becoming known as Rest Bay. Florence Nightingale is one of its keen supporters
  • World War I & II - Requisitioned as a hospital in use for the war effort
  • 2018 - The Rest is converted into luxury studios and apartments

A golfing hot spot is born

  • 1895 - 9 hole course is founded on Locks Common by Cardiff businessmen attracted by the location
  • Relocates to its current position and becomes the first 18 hole course in South Wales
  • 1909 - The course if granted Royal status and during the First World War, is turned over to agriculture for the war effort
  • 1951 - Hosts its first major tournament, The Amateur Championship. The competition has returned a further six times since
  • 2014 - Hosts the Senior Open Championship for the first time, Bernhard Langer wins by an amazing 13-stroke margin

Tourists discover the perfect holiday spot by the sea

  • 1900's - Thanks to charabancs and the railway, Porthcawl sees an influx of day trippers drawn down to the sea
  • 1930's - Pines Airways based at Locks Common, offers tours of the sky and an air taxi service
  • 1960's - Porthcawl begins to develop as a water sports destination, particularly for speed boat racing and surfing. Fulgoni's cafe (later known as Malc's) offers ice cream and stunning views over the bay
  • 2014 - Rest Bay features in the Lonely Planet
"When the swell is up - delighting local experts with clean barrels  topping 2m - this Welsh beach can rival any surf spot in Europe. But  Rest Bay boasts rideable waves on any given day, which is all that  learners need."
  • 2019 & Beyond - Exciting new developments such as the Water Sports Centre lead the regeneration of the resort.

Porthcawl's incredible waves give birth to one of the first UK surf clubs

  • 1969 - One of the oldest surf clubs in the UK, Welsh Coast Surf Club was founded as the CREST Surf Club, its name inspired by the local breaks of Coney, Rest, Esp, Sker and Trecco. Re-named the WCSC in 1971, the club continues to underpin Porthcawl's vibrant surfing community, organising competitions as well as the legendary Surfer's Ball
  • 1973 - Tonyrefail Lifeguard Club is founded. The name reflects the fact that the club is formed by families from the Valleys who have holiday caravans in Porthcawl
  • 1991 - The name is changed and Rest Bay Lifeguard Club is officially established
  • 1997 - The lifeguard station is opened following the efforts of local fundraisers and the council
  • 2016 - RNLI lifeguards take to their posts for the first time at Rest Bay, supported by Porthcawl lifeboat as required. Following the successful pilot scheme, they will continue to guard the beaches until at least summer 2021

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Where does your evening stroll take you? Ours took us to Tythegston’s beautiful bright yellow rapeseed field.⁠
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#VisitWales #FindYourEpicFeels like summer☀️⁠
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Where does your evening stroll take you? Ours took us to Tythegston’s beautiful bright yellow rapeseed field.⁠
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Don’t forget to share your best shots with us from across Bridgend County using #VisitBridgend 📸⁠
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#VisitWales #FindYourEpic
Coffee with a view☕⁠
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How good does this look? 📸 @taylorowenmason 
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Jump in the car and head down to Bridgend County for a weekend in the sun, we’re pretty close to some big cities you know…⁠
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What are you waiting for? Plan your trip to Bridgend County now!⁠
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#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpic⁠Coffee with a view☕⁠
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How good does this look? 📸 @taylorowenmason 
⁠
Jump in the car and head down to Bridgend County for a weekend in the sun, we’re pretty close to some big cities you know…⁠
⁠
🗺️Cardiff 40mins⁠
🗺️Bristol 1hr⁠
🗺️Bath 1.5hrs⁠
🗺️Birmingham 2.5hrs⁠
⁠
What are you waiting for? Plan your trip to Bridgend County now!⁠
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#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpic⁠
This #EndangeredSpeciesDay we’re celebrating the wonderful wildlife that thrives across the County🌳⁠
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 Attracting botanists from across the world are the Wild Fen Orchid, which can be found in Kenfig Nature Reserve amongst 14 other species, all prospering here due to the thriving sand dune system.⁠
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📸Early Purple Orchid⁠
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On a ramble across Bridgend County, you might even come across the Shrill Carder Bee!🐝⁠
⁠
 Don’t forget to tag us in your adventures #VisitBridgendThis #EndangeredSpeciesDay we’re celebrating the wonderful wildlife that thrives across the County🌳⁠
⁠
 Attracting botanists from across the world are the Wild Fen Orchid, which can be found in Kenfig Nature Reserve amongst 14 other species, all prospering here due to the thriving sand dune system.⁠
⁠
📸Early Purple Orchid⁠
⁠
On a ramble across Bridgend County, you might even come across the Shrill Carder Bee!🐝⁠
⁠
 Don’t forget to tag us in your adventures #VisitBridgend
If only all runs had these surroundings 😍⁠
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Don’t forget, the Run4wales Porthcawl 10k is coming up in July…why not make it a weekend away? With surf, summits, and scenery galore, there's something for all the family.⁠
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📸Dianna Tudor⁠
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#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpicIf only all runs had these surroundings 😍⁠
⁠
The BCRL Beach Race came to Rest Bay on 10th May, organised by the Porthcawl Runners. Were you one of the 281 finishers?🏃🏽‍♀️⁠
⁠
Don’t forget, the Run4wales Porthcawl 10k is coming up in July…why not make it a weekend away? With surf, summits, and scenery galore, there's something for all the family.⁠
⁠
📸Dianna Tudor⁠
⁠
#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpic
📍Porthcawl Harbour | 📸@callumgillingsphotography⁠
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The historic Porthcawl Harbour used to be a busy fishing port before Cardiff, Barry, Port-Talbot, and Swansea docks were expanded. ⁠
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Stroll down to the harbour and see if you can spot the old Lighthouse, Watchtower, and Lifeboat Station ⛵⁠
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#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpic⁠📍Porthcawl Harbour | 📸@callumgillingsphotography⁠
⁠
The historic Porthcawl Harbour used to be a busy fishing port before Cardiff, Barry, Port-Talbot, and Swansea docks were expanded. ⁠
⁠
Stroll down to the harbour and see if you can spot the old Lighthouse, Watchtower, and Lifeboat Station ⛵⁠
⁠
#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpic⁠
I’ll take the scenic route🗺️⁠
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Fancy a road trip with a view this weekend? Head to Bridgend County where you’ll pass by surf, summits, and lots of scenery along the way.⁠
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📍Bwlch Mountain | @callumgillingsphotography⁠
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#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpic⁠I’ll take the scenic route🗺️⁠
⁠
Fancy a road trip with a view this weekend? Head to Bridgend County where you’ll pass by surf, summits, and lots of scenery along the way.⁠
⁠
📍Bwlch Mountain | @callumgillingsphotography⁠
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#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpic⁠
Stand up and enjoy the sunset 🌅 

With warmer evenings on the way, get out on the water in Rest Bay. 

📸 @welsh.walks 

#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpicStand up and enjoy the sunset 🌅 

With warmer evenings on the way, get out on the water in Rest Bay. 

📸 @welsh.walks 

#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpic
Calling all photographers 📷 it’s competition time! 

We’ve teamed up with local businesses to give away the ultimate bundle of prizes worth £500. TO WIN:

👉🏻 Post your favourite photo of Bridgend County and tag us using #WinVisitBridgend 
👉🏻 Like this post
👉🏻 Follow @visitbridgend @mcarthurglenbridgend @breweryfield @theplacetostay.wales @fablasltd 

Swipe to see what you can win!👀

Giveaway ends midnight 26/05. One winner with our favourite shot will be contacted via DM. T&C’s apply. 

#VisitBridgendCalling all photographers 📷 it’s competition time! 

We’ve teamed up with local businesses to give away the ultimate bundle of prizes worth £500. TO WIN:

👉🏻 Post your favourite photo of Bridgend County and tag us using #WinVisitBridgend 
👉🏻 Like this post
👉🏻 Follow @visitbridgend @mcarthurglenbridgend @breweryfield @theplacetostay.wales @fablasltd 

Swipe to see what you can win!👀

Giveaway ends midnight 26/05. One winner with our favourite shot will be contacted via DM. T&C’s apply. 

#VisitBridgend
Looking for a relaxing outdoor activity now that the weather's brightening up?⁠
⁠
Re-connect with nature and unwind with Bryngarw Country Park's Outdoor Gong Bath this summer🌞⁠
⁠
📍Bryngarw Country Park⁠
⁠
📅12th May - 9th June⁠
⁠
#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpicLooking for a relaxing outdoor activity now that the weather's brightening up?⁠
⁠
Re-connect with nature and unwind with Bryngarw Country Park's Outdoor Gong Bath this summer🌞⁠
⁠
📍Bryngarw Country Park⁠
⁠
📅12th May - 9th June⁠
⁠
#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpic
A surfer’s paradise 🌊⁠
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Take a lesson at @porthcawlsurfschool, grab a drink at @restbaycafebar and enjoy the views when you surf at Rest Bay 🏄🏽‍♀️⁠
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📍Rest Bay |📸@callumgillingsphotography⁠
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#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpicA surfer’s paradise 🌊⁠
⁠
Take a lesson at @porthcawlsurfschool, grab a drink at @restbaycafebar and enjoy the views when you surf at Rest Bay 🏄🏽‍♀️⁠
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📍Rest Bay |📸@callumgillingsphotography⁠
⁠
#VisitBridgend #VisitWales #FindYourEpic