This memorial to the former prime minister William Ewart Gladstone was unveiled in 1899, a year after his death from cancer and burial at Westminster Abbey. The original bust was stolen in the 1970s. A new bust, the work of local sculptor Peter London, replaced it in 1991.
WE Gladstone (1809-1898) was born in Liverpool and educated at Eton and Oxford University. He became a Tory MP in 1832, and joined Robert Peel’s cabinet in 1843. In 1859 he crossed to the Liberal party, becoming its leader eight years later. He had three stints as prime minister, starting in 1868. The last ended with his resignation in 1894. As prime minister he reformed justice, education and the civil service, and attempted to deliver home rule for Ireland.
He first came to Penmaenmawr for his holidays in 1855. Over the next 14 years he made 11 visits with his family, staying at various houses. While at Penmaenmawr, Gladstone would bathe daily in the sea, walk in the hills behind the town, read and continue his studies on Homer. His wealthy cousin built a holiday home on the outskirts, but died in mysterious circumstances on the beach in 1875.
When Gladstone first began holidaying at Penmaenmawr, the area of the town above the railway station was undeveloped. His visits made the place known and attracted those of high social order to share the delights of the new “watering place” on the North Wales coast. His visits declined as he grew older. His final visit in 1896 came after a break of fourteen years.
With thanks to David Bathers of Penmaenmawr Historical Society