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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 January 2008, 07:00 GMT
Fight to save 'Wonderland' home
The former Penmorfa hotel (picture - John Lawson-Reay)
Penmorfa should be saved says John Lawson-Reay
Conservationists are fighting to stop a building with links to Alice in Wonderland from being demolished.

Penmorfa in Llandudno was once the Victorian holiday home of the family of Alice Liddell, the girl thought to have inspired Lewis Carroll's tale.

But developers who want to build new flats say it is "unrealistic" to restore the former seaside hotel.

Campaigners want the building listed but historic monuments agency, Cadw said it was not significantly unique.

The building on the seaside town's West Shore was once a retreat for the Liddell family from Oxford. Daughter Alice is believed to be the inspiration for Carroll's classic story.

The family kept the building until 1873, and later it was turned into the 37-bed Gogarth Abbey Hotel.

Over the years, the resort has used its connection to the Alice in Wonderland story to attract visitors.

But in recent times the building has become run down and developers Anwyl Construction want to pull it down and build apartments there.

John Lawson-Reay, chairman of the Llandudno Seaside Buildings Preservation Trust and a member of the Llandudno and Colwyn Bay History Society, described the plan to knock the building down as "awful".

Family home

Mr Lawson-Reay said he was not happy with an earlier plan to keep the old structure at the centre of the development either, but "at least it would have been retained".

"Even without the architecture the building has an historical significance as it is the only connection the town has with Alice Liddell," he said.

"She came here for several months at a time with her family for several years, and important people such as William Gladstone, who became prime minister, and philanthropist William Wilberforce visited the family," he added.

Alice Liddell
Alice Liddell spent holidays at the house in Llandudno for nine years

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said Cadw had been unable to find "conclusive evidence" Lewis Carroll ever visited the house or that the Alice in Wonderland stories were partly written there.

The building had also been extensively altered over the years, he added.

A spokeswoman for Conwy council confirmed plans had been submitted and were going "through the usual planning process".

Anwyl Construction director Mathew Anwyl said specialist consultants had carried out a full viability study into restoring the original 1870s building but found it to be unrealistic.

"The property had not been maintained and had suffered at the hands of the elements for a considerable time," he said.

A way forward had now been found with the latest plans, he added, which would involve "a sympathetic rebuilding to retain many of the building's original features."



SEE ALSO
'Alice in Wonderland' home sold
15 Oct 04 |  North West Wales
Museum first for Alice pictures
30 Apr 03 |  North East Wales

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