Seaside cafe diners’ enjoyment of music helps eliminate an Anglesey black spot


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Diners listening to rag-time music from a rare 1920s nickelodeon at an Anglesey seaside café have helped to improve a dangerous footpath.

The new path, alongside Ravenspoint Road in Trearddur Bay, has been installed using money put into a coin-operated nickelodeon at the village’s new Sea Shanty Café.

The scheme was boosted thanks to a substantial donation from the family of a Holyhead bank manager, which allowed work on the path – part of the Wales Coastal Path – to begin more quickly than planned.

Sea Shanty Café owner Phil Brown said: “Locals have campaigned for years for a footpath over this blind crest  – since it was a sand track in the 1940s, it has never had a footpath on either side.”

He negotiated with Isle of Anglesey County Council, which agreed to carry out the work providing the Sea Shanty Café’s 1923 Seeburg nickelodeon could raise enough money to purchase the strip of land required. This huge musical box stands six feet tall in the entrance porch of the café, alongside an Edwardian ice-cream parlour.

Adapted to accept £2 coins, the nickelodeon has been delivering toe tapping 1920s ragtime and foxtrot music to customers for six months with all the money raised going towards the purchase of the land.

Phil added: “The exercise was a perfect example of harmonious cooperation between a public authority and a local business. The officers of Anglesey Council were enthusiastic and helpful and obviously glad to take advantage of an opportunity to save public money.”

The work has now been completed, just in time for the busy half term start of the 2017 season, when families and day trippers head to the nearby beaches to soak up the sun.

Phil said: “The road has a blind hill and bend, which drivers cannot easily see over. With increased traffic volumes, the spot was becoming more and more dangerous especially for families who often have a toddler on a small bike while mum pushes the stroller. Without a footway, these groups have had to actually walk along the carriageway.

“We were halfway towards our target when suddenly the process speeded up. The family of the late Trevor Williams of Trearddur Road, who was manager of the Holyhead Natwest bank for many years, came forward with a massive donation in his memory. The target was met.

“We are very grateful to everybody who has donated funds and enjoyed the nickelodeon’s music, and to Mr Williams’ family for the generous donation, which will benefit those living in the village and visitors alike. It’s a real community improvement.

“The music of the nickelodeon will go on and we are now deciding which charitable cause will next benefit from it.”

Chris Williams, who made the donation on behalf of his dad Trevor, said:  “The village has campaigned for this footpath for many years.

“When we saw the Sea Shanty Café’s initiative, we knew what to do with some money my father bequeathed to be used for a worthwhile purpose in Trearddur Bay.

“We also love the nickelodeon – it is a unique and beautiful monster unlike anything we had ever seen before. So we have Phil to thank for bringing something so amazing to Trearddur Bay, not to mention the footpath.”

The work was also welcomed by Isle of Anglesey County Council Gybi Ward Councillor Dafydd Rhys Thomas, who is also a Trearddur Bay community councillor and has been campaigning for the work for 15 years.

He said: “There have been several accidents on this stretch of road, which gets very busy during the holiday season.

“The path forms part of the Anglesey Coastal Path and the Wales Coastal path and is used year round.

“In addition, the customers at the Sea Shanty Café have been very generous and Phil has been instrumental in ensuring the work got underway. The reaction from locals and visitors has been very positive, it’s a great success.

“The Sea Shanty and other recent developments have transformed Trearddur and now there is a real buzz about the village.”

The nickelodeon  – a precursor of the jukebox – was built by the JP Seeburg Piano Company at its Chicago factory in 1923 and for years entertained music fans in tea rooms across America before arriving in Trearddur Bay.

The limed oak exterior houses a piano with an intermittent harpsichord effect plus a wooden xylophone.  The machine was fully restored in Pennsylvania and then shipped to Wales where Phil enlarged it, adding windows to reveal the workings. As well as being a food entrepreneur, Phil has had a love affair with mechanical music from an early age.

Phil opened Sea Shanty Café on Lon St Ffraid in July 2016 with business partner Neil Gitton and they now employ more than 55 full and part-time staff. The nautically-themed bistro, just a stone’s throw from the beach, celebrates sand, seaside holidays and the village’s links with sailing and local history.

It stands on the spot – and bears the name – of an old wooden café that was once a much loved haunt of holidaymakers for decades. Its ceiling is hung with historic sailing boats, while the walls are decorated with beach-finds and jars of sand and shells collected from foreshores around the world.

The Sea Shanty Café is open daily from 9am until late, and also has a popular Edwardian-style ice-cream parlour.

The establishment has  won rave write-ups from foodies, families and tourists on online sites such as TripAdvisor and OnionRing.

More details about opening times and menus at  seashantycafe.co.uk or call 01407 728200.

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