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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