John Bright’s Paddock, Llandudno

For decades, the field on the corner of Church Walks and Abbey Road was known as John Bright’s Paddock after the politician who kept horses here.

Rochdale-born John Bright (1811-89) first visited the emerging resort of Llandudno in the mid-1850s. After the death of his son Leonard, he returned every year to visit the boy’s grave on the Great Orme. He became attentive to local affairs and would often be seen riding his horse, stopping and chatting with people along the way.

Portrait of John Bright MPJohn became an MP in 1843 and is pictured here courtesy of the National Library of Wales. He served in Liberal cabinets as President of the Board of Trade and as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, advocating electoral reform and religious freedom. Taking up the baton of the earlier Chartist movement, in 1867 he helped to extend the vote to twice as many men (including urban householders and farm tenants). He championed free trade and was a founder of the Anti-Corn Law League. One of the finest orators of his generation, he coined the phrase “the mother of parliaments”.

John supported abolition of slavery int the USA. In 1864 President Abraham Lincoln wrote of “the high character and steady friendship of the said John Bright”. This was after John’s intervention secured the return to Liverpool of a young British man convicted of aiding the Confederate Cause.

In 1881 John laid the foundation stone of Llandudno Board School (now the Penderyn whisky distillery) in Lloyd Street. A “John Bright Scholarship” was also proposed then, and people started donating funds. By 1895, six years after his death, plans were put forward for the fund to pay for a new intermediate school, John Bright County School, which opened in temporary premises (now the Risboro Hotel) the following year. Permanent classrooms on Oxford Road were opened in September 1907 by American ambassador Whitelaw Reid.

Today the MP’s paddock is a playing field for Ysgol San Sior, on the opposite side of Church Walks. The school is unique in Wales in having permission to sell eggs to shops, from its flock of over 100 hens. The school has planted many trees on the field. Visitors are welcomed by a variety of lizards and exotic amphibians in the school foyer.

With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front Museum, Llandudno

Postcode: LL30 2HL    View Location Map

Website of Ysgol San Sior