Updated: Nov 24, 2022
I've really enjoyed getting under the skin of Towyn & Kinmel Bay since my first walkabout with the team of consultants who are working together on the TKBVOICE project in late January.
What I didn't know at the time was that I myself had been on holiday in Towyn many moons ago. I discovered this one evening while visiting my parents, and told them about the project a week later.
Born in Liverpool in the 1960s, my family often had camping and caravan holidays in North Wales. We stayed at Browns Holiday Camp in Towyn a few times in the 1960s - when I was a baby and a few years later as a toddler. You can see the grainy black and white photos here. The blotches and my grumpy looking face are because me and my sister had chicken pox at the time! Whilst my memory is hazy to non-existent, my mum in contrast remembers those holidays in Towyn with great fondness and in striking detail.
During one of my Wednesday Walks and Talks in March, I visited Browns Holiday Park to ask them to put up posters about our project so that we reach out to those on holiday who are visiting at weekends, and who are coming for a longer vacation during peak season. (Other volunteers have visited other caravan sites). Over 50 years on the business still seems to be going strong and the caravan communities in Towyn & Kinmel Bay are a permanent feature of the place.
Today, Towyn & Kinmel Bay with a population of 8500 swells to nearly 50,000 visitors when the holiday season begins. That's a big influx of people and must take adapting to as a local. Finding a way of living with and appreciating this diversity and finding consensus on how to develop the place going forward is our role as consultants, working with the community and members of the Community Partnership.
Life often has a way of coming full circle and it feels special to be supporting the community in Towyn & Kinmel Bay, as it emerges from the pandemic, and takes this opportunity to pause and reflect on what people love about the place and how the community can work together to make it even better now and in the future.
The individual photos selected to form the #LoveTKB postcard
Sometimes, it helps to look at a place we know well through a new lens - and this informed our approach and the #LoveTKB postcard campaign we have used to enliven the local community. By inviting people to inhabit the holiday mentality, and
to see the place where they live with pride, we encourage locals, visitors and holidaymakers, to look for the charm and appeal of TKB as well as ways to enhance the place.
Through conversations, shared memories, stories and reflections, we hope to emerge with a Place Plan for the area - which is supported by local people but also informed by the views of visitors and holidaymakers.
Inspired by our discussion of the holidays of the distant past, my parents who live in Mold recently went on a coastal drive through Rhyl, Towyn & Kinmel Bay, ending in Pensarn / Abergele before heading home on the A55. Their insight about the place was very helpful and I look forward to hearing more from other visitors and holidaymakers as we head into Spring and the holiday industry preparing for the Easter holidays. The views of the people who visit Towyn & Kinmel Bay for a break, recharge, and enjoy at leisure are crucial to understanding TKB's story as a place.
What also struck me in my conversations with people I've met in Kinmel Bay and Towyn is how many locals remember a magical vacation as a child or family coming from the North West, West Midlands, and sometimes further afield, and how later these life experiences have inspired them to relocate to Towyn & Kinmel Bay because of the beach, proximity to nature, and for being a great place from which to visit other parts of North Wales. You find echoes of that story repeated in Towyn & Kinmel Bay facebook communities, prompted by a photo of Foryd Bridge, or an old shared photo. Others - born and raised in the area or Rhyl - who made their way to the other side of the Foryd bridge - also talk about the benefits of living in a relaxed and friendly seaside town, and the feeling that they too can imbibe some of that holiday spirit.
These comments say a lot about the continuing appeal and charm of Towyn & Kinmel Bay, which undoubtedly sometimes sees itself as the poor relation, a place to pass through from Rhyl to Pensarn or Llandudno, and other tourist destinations.
I prefer to see Towyn & Kinmel Bay, as a beautiful spot with its own unique charm, ready access to other places and home to a diverse community of people who are passionate about where they live, or recharge in, and passionate about improving it for the future.
The future for Towyn & Kinmel Bay is bright.
Helen Wilkinson is the founder of Wilkinson Bytes, a social change consultancy. She was the Community Connector for the Community Connections Project, acting as the catalyst for community engagement and action, as well as conceiving and developing the TKBVOICE brand, the LoveTKB community campaign and the digital platform for TKBVOICE.
Do you have any precious holiday memories or photos from TKB to share?
Why not send us a postcard?
Even better, share your holiday story or snapshots about why TKB was a great place to vacation or a great place to be on our News & Views page. Scroll down to the share your story form.
We would also love it if you tell us which streets and spots you love, and those you'd like to improve by visiting our interactive digital map. You can make comments until April 18th.