About: Harry Gardiner

After retiring from lecturing in town planner, Harry moved to Tenby in 1999. As well as being an active member of Tenby Civic Society, he keenly pursues his love of photography, watercolours and pastel portraits.

Posts by Harry Gardiner:

  • Allen’s View; “For the quiet enjoyment of the Public”, 01 Sep 2019 in Art&Heritage&History
  • Does it ever snow in Tenby?, 03 Mar 2018 in Culture&Heritage&History
  • Tenby’s Secret Garden, 03 May 2016 in Heritage&History

  • Allen’s View; “For the quiet enjoyment of the Public”

    Views from the first Hilltop North of Tenby on the Coast Path could be expected to be worth seeing;  so it was that the southern end of the hilltop along the Path was donated in 1965 to The Friends of Tenby “For the quiet enjoyment of the Public” by Jessie Allen, living next door in “Clovers”.

    Views South included Tenby, Worms Head, North Devon, Caldey, Lundy, Giltar Point, Penally, the Ridgeway and the Ritec marshes.  Soon a further area of adjoining land was added, gifted by Roger Hainsworth of Manorbier, landscaper for Jessie Allen. The views from this are north to the coast, Monkstone Point and the shores of Carmarthen Bay beyond.

    The Friends became Tenby Civic Society and settled to over 50 years of Trusteeship, cut a path through Blackthorn thickets, installed a hut, a stone viewpoint cairn and put in planting and trees.  Local bodies donated teak benches

    Up till 2010 costs had been low. By 2015 several problems surfaced with over-mature Blackthorns and Leylandii trees, overgrowth of bramble scrub, ivy, hedges and the shed. Two members mapped the trees, then a full professional tree survey confirmed safety and set a five year program to monitor trees.

    The Executive Committee made a 50th Anniversary Appeal to improve the site: felling and re-planting as recommended; information notices; opening up some views; gates; planting to strengthen hedges and hide the high metal fence on the east, and to reinforce flower glades.  Bird boxes, picnic tables, bulbs, some plants, hedging and young trees were donated. The Appeal did well with Society members, the public and the Town Council, but only two local businesses donated.   Expensive items were put on hold; volunteer time and donations in kind were prioritized, alongside tree work as specified in the tree survey.

    Then Tenby Rotary asked to fund a project at Allen’s View so we suggested some bird carvings from tall leylandii stumps left after felling.  Dan Badham, of Church Farm Landscapes, produced an epic perched Red Kite and a beautifully accurate Peregrine Falcon ( there was a nest nearby) and four chunky owl logs, to be sunk like posts alongside footpaths.



    Vandalism happens in an isolated site; two 30 year old teak benches were broken and burnt by young vandals, so the committee decided to “ target harden”!  Replacements would be in galvanized wrought iron, modeled on an existing bench and this year the two benches, crafted by Mike Davies of Manorbier were installed by him, gleaming and firmly fixed into the ground !



    Does it ever snow in Tenby?

    Living here for eighteen years and waiting anxiously with my camera for Tenby’s charms to be carpeted in snow, I can report: not often, not much !

    Surrounded by the sea on two sides, both the air and the ground are warmed by the sea; if the air is cold enough, then usually the ground is not, so snow doesn’t settle.

    BUT, when both are cold enough, roughly every seven years, then we collect one or one and a half inches of snow. So it’s due again now!!! And it has arrived!

    On the afternoon of December 21st  2010 a large grey snow shower cloud slid slowly south between Carmarthen and Haverfordwest, carpeting Tenby with one and a half inches over three hours. Not much you think, but enough to cut Tenby off with 4 x 4s and everything else left abandoned on the hills out of the town!  In the morning Tenby drivers phoning into work  in Carmarthen or Haverfordwest apologising that Tenby was cut off were greeted with disbelief; the snow cloud had missed both towns.

    But on the evening of the 21st, equipped with boots, multi-layered clothing and my new Sony DSLR, I rushed round under the cloud capturing whatever the camera could record in the dim light, wiping flakes off the front filter before every shot. Dim? It sure was !


    Here’s dim in the harbour. So dim that the snowflakes are grey and almost invisible.



    But up on Castle Hill, by Albert’s flood lights, I could capture the flakes as the wind rushed them down and by.


    SNOW OVER THE SLUICEFortunately when the snow stopped the cloud became much thinner and the light improved so I got back to Bridge Street, took a sequence of seven photos which with the computer I later stitched into a panorama. The orange street lights gave the snow a pink tinge, to contrast with the blue of the dusk sky, on the snow.  The result was the most popular photo I have taken; Tenby coated in the still, unsullied beauty of snow. Something rarely seen, even by locals, but much remembered. (Part of the image is shown here)


    It grew too dark, so I returned in the morning to find the sun and the temperate setting by the sea was wiping the snow away, though the snow did still sparkle on Castle Hill.

    Tenby’s Secret Garden

    Allens View is the hilltop woodland viewpoint alongside the Pembrokeshire Coast Path on the first hillcrest north of Tenby. It was gifted in two parts to the Friends of Tenby in 1965 and 1974 from land owned by Miss Jessie Allen of Clovers, Northcliffe, Tenby.


    A working party of National Park Coast Path volunteers rest at Allens view’s south viewpoint


    Having retired, I settled in Tenby in 1999, because it was my favourite place in Wales  and I have pursued photography, watercolours, pastel portraits, and being a member of Tenby Civic Society ever since.

    My initial disappointment with the partial view of Tenby from Allens View has been replaced by a growing affection for the peace and outlooks of this woodland spot and especially for its magnificent Monterey Pines.  Hopefully those of you who haven’t shared that yet will soon walk up to see and enjoy it. To whet your appetites read on….

    Allens View’s story starts, not surprisingly with Miss Jessie Allen who retired from a college in Cheltenham in the 1930’s and made her home in Clovers on the hillcrest. Born in Tenby in 1885 on her return her involved herself in the social life of the town. Being a keen gardener she made many improvements on Clovers extensive plot. She wanted to share the wonderful views with the town so she gifted a south-facing triangle of land adjoining Clovers to The Friends of Tenby.  An adjoining second area was first gifted to her landscape gardener Peter Hainsworth, who passed it to the Friends in1974. This parcel contained many more trees and the fine northern view to Monkstone Point.  The Friends later became Tenby Civic Society, who continued to maintain the site.

    Twenty-five trees species are recorded among the 180 mature trees on the site, this rich variety including many native trees as well as a similar number of flower species. Paths run from the Coast Path through the site and connect back onto the Coast Path.  The hilltop affords two good viewpoints, one north towards Waterwynch Valley and Monkstone Point, the other south over Tenby to Giltar Point and Penally.

    Allens View is particularly valuable as a viewpoint as many parts of this section of the Coast Path are confined between or by hedges, so views along the coast are rare. There are benches and a picnic table for walkers to enjoy. The only access to the site is on foot. The litter bins are well used, little litter being left on the site, a sign it is well-respected by users.

    Over 50 years plants flowers and some trees have been added.  Benches were donated by Society members and local societies. New paths were cut, a stone viewpoint cairn erected.  Sadly trees have grown up on land around Allens View so part of the view Miss Allen enjoyed of Tenby’s rooftops is obscured by larches and pines planted by the banker Julian Hodge.   The main views north and south remain rewarding, looking over the adjoining slopes because that owner helpfully maintains these slopes as grass.

    Recent changes, including the advanced maturity of many of the trees, mean the Society has had to change its approach, whilst maintaining Allens View’s semi-wild character. So a 50th Anniversary project was launched in 2015 to raise the additional funds needed to improve awareness, signage, views, re-stock planting and ensure a balanced sequence of tree replacement as over-mature trees die or are removed for safety reasons.

    Suitable indigenous tree and flower species will be chosen for reinforcement and replacement planting. Felling needs care to avoid ‘wind-tunnel’ damage risks to existing trees used to having the protection of a group of trees.  Gates and an information panel are also planned.

    Anyone interested in helping with the many volunteer work tasks the Project involves should contact Harry Gardiner at harry.gardiner@uwclub.net or on 01834 844257.

    Costs of materials and tree-surgeon work are considerable so anyone wishing to help financially can send donations to the Society’s Treasurer, Albie Smosarski, at Cofion Books, Bridge Street, Tenby, SA70 7BU, payable to Tenby Civic Society.

    Gifts in kind can be equally helpful; contact Harry above if you can donate woodland flowers, native evergreen bushes or young hedging trees.  Tree and bulb planting is in the Autumn, so gifts then of native daffodils, bluebells, snowdrops, or primroses would be especially welcome.