In 1921 Francis Chardon purchased Rapallo House in Llandudno which he renovated and furnished with collectables from around the world. Following his death in 1925, he requested in his will that the house be turned into the Llandudno Museum. In 1995 the museum relocated to its current premises on Gloddaeth Street and continues to develop, having recently expanded into the building next-door. Its most recent development project has turned its attention to the exterior of the building by setting out to renovate the gardens into a tranquil biodiversity space for the people of Llandudno, matching the ideals of Mr Chardon all those years before. The venture is being supported by Cyfle Cymru North Wales and other local agencies who are working together to complete the project.
The project was due to start in March 2020, however due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic it wasn’t until July that Cyfle Cymru volunteers were finally able to grab their tools and get out to work. Weekly volunteering sessions have been held in small groups to allow for social distancing, and despite this the project has still managed to clock over 400 volunteering hours to date with great progress being made in this time. The garden has been cleared and sections marked out ready to be transformed into individual areas that represent different aspects of Llandudno’s history. A dilapidated shed has been replaced with an eco-friendly outdoor classroom which local schools will be able to use. A butterfly garden donated by Keep Wales Tidy has also been installed and will soon be accompanied by a ‘Bee and Bug’ hotel, a pond and a vertical space-saving herb garden made from pallets, while Mind North Wales donated a walk-in planting pod which will help benefit mental health. The project has also prided itself on repurposing items which would have ordinarily been discarded, such as farm machinery to create stand-out feature pieces or the tram tracks which are being used to create a mural dedicated to the now discontinued Llandudno trams.
Volunteering their time to renovate this space has provided Cyfle Cymru service users an opportunity for respite and rehabilitation amongst a supportive community during these difficult times. Janet Finch-Saunders AM/AC has praised the project and said, “The period of recent pandemic has brought a period of uncertainty, most especially for those already facing challenges in the form of addiction, mental health worries and personal difficulties. A period of much-needed recovery is something many look forward to and it therefore brings great optimism to me to see such a positive community project able to find motion towards this end.”
Plans for the garden going forward include planting a variety of wildflowers and other plants, displays with face shapes cut out so that children can take humorous photos, installation of a sensory garden including plants such as bamboo, rosemary, lambs-ears and curry plants, and renovating the lower courtyard into a seating area which will feature a large awning donated by Brooks Tarpaulins. While there is still a lot of work to be done, the hope is that the garden will eventually become somewhere the whole community can cherish for years to come.