“Bob and Graham Davies were the very proud owners of Woodlands Hall Caravan Park in Ruthin for many years when they both had a yearning to take on a new project.
Woodlands was in good hands, being run by managers John and Ros.
A phone call was taken from an estate agent informing Bob and Graham of a possible park which might be of interest to them as it was indeed a ‘project’.
They both spent some time to take a good look at Pentre Mawr Caravan Park in Pensarn, Abergele.
The park had been there for many years, well before the A55 expressway even came to North Wales!
And do you know what? It showed it too!
Most caravans were at least 30 years old, they all had the old gas mantles for lighting and only one caravan had its own toilet!
The remaining caravans had to use one of the two toilet blocks with the old style wooden rimmed toilet seats!
Some of the better caravans even had running water by way of a foot pump set in the floor.
This was the norm for caravans in those days and even to this day some people can only relate to a caravan as being like that, but how wrong can they be?
It was quite obvious that this place needed a good sort out to bring it into the 20th Century.
As all of this was going on I was dating Bob’s daughter, Catherine (now my wife) and I had just finished University with a degree in Electronic Engineering.
The job situation back then was really bad, even with a degree I couldn’t find a suitable job, so as I was available Bob and I took a drive to Pentre Mawr to take a look.
Pentre Mawr, by the way, is welsh for ‘Large Village’ (Pentre meaning village).
It was raining that day, I remember it well, and the park looked even worse than what I was expecting.
I couldn’t believe that Bob and Graham could be considering buying such a place but I should have known better – they knew what they were doing!
The sale eventually went through during August of that year.
So, there I was; electronics degree, no job and none in the pipeline, well not for long anyway!
Bob asked me if I wanted to do a bit of labouring on the new park – cutting grass, moving caravans etc and starting work in preparation for the main work in the winter.
Well, I had nothing else better to do! I found the toughest part of the job was when I started work in the mornings with the strong smell of bacon wafting around the park!
That winter was about the hardest, wettest and muddiest I have ever encountered.
The plan was to move half of the caravans to one side of the park allowing us to create the new bases etc for the other half.
It was extremely hard work, day in, day out.
Even Bob and Graham were in their overalls getting covered in mud every day!
By the end of the winter working with the contractors, we had managed to make 50 new bases and laid all new mains services to them all, as well as turfing all gardens.
I was getting into this!
Looking back after the winter at what we had all achieved was one of many proud moments.
The house wasn’t built then, all we had was a small shed with a broken window!
Eating your lunch in there on a freezing cold winters day was not much fun!
Even though it was such hard work I think I was hooked, I was loving the whole caravan park lifestyle; making sure caravan owners were looked after and any problems were sorted out.
It didn’t matter if you had a small cheap caravan or one of the posh new ones coming in with its own toilet, all of our customers were and are treated with the same respect and a desire to help and make their stay here with us as warm and friendly as possible.
The following May (1993) Cath and I got married and many of our caravan owners came to the marble church in Bodelwyddan to watch us get wed!
Later that year Bob and Graham offered me the job to look after Pentre Mawr when the new house was built.
It took us just two winters to complete the bases and services and the third winter was taken up by making several large rockeries and planting many trees around the place.
The house was completed in June 1994 and Cath and I have lived there ever since, with the addition of our two daughters Amy-Jane and Lea-Anne.
Since we started, we have strived to be the best and in 1995 we achieved a 5 star grading from the Wales Tourist Board and have retained it every year since.
Very soon after moving in we had a suggestion from an owner who became a very good family friend, “I think that field at the back of me would make a lovely bowling green Jas, what do you think?”.
That was unusual for a caravan park of this size to have and I thought but what a great idea!
We had it ripped up and re-laid with good quality turf and after a great deal of work, we had created the lovely bowling green that we have now, enjoyed by all of our customers free of charge.
The green has become somewhat of a focal point of the park, acting like a village green, bringing people together over a game of bowls and a cup of tea.
Some of our owners have got together to turn it into a small club.
They arrange friendly competitions every bank holiday with ladies day, bring and buy, mixed pairs etc, etc, all are welcome – even if you haven’t picked a bowl up before.
It makes for a warm and friendly day where everyone can join in and have a bit of fun and meet new people.
When I started work here I used to have a sit on a grass cutter that left the cut grass on the ground.
As the park grew, we invested in a ride on mower that picked up the grass, although I was still not happy with the quality of the finish.
In our attempt to present the park in the best possible way at all times we are now in a situation where all of the grass is cut using hand mowers.
This allows us to get a lovely stripped finish, giving a real feel of quality when you walk around the park.
Bob and Graham finally sold Woodlands Hall Caravan Park in 2007 to allow them well deserved time to spend with their families, holiday a bit more and play a lot more golf!
They wanted to re-invest into the facilities on offer at Pentre Mawr and we all decided it would be a good idea to offer a free Wifi system throughout the whole park.
The important requirement was that it was free to use – at this time nearly all parks would charge for wifi and then only have it available near the office area.
At Pentre Mawr you have wifi in your own caravan through a system of aerials around the park.
We felt this was an important facility for the future and one that eventually would become a basic requirement for a holiday home owner.
Bob, Graham and I enjoy showing new customers around the park and we feel safe in the knowledge that we can tell any prospective customer to take a walk around the park and speak to our owners, as they will give an unbiased opinion on what it is like here.
Most of the time we will see the new customers come back around after taking an age to walk around as everyone is so friendly and down to earth.
In many respects, our customers and the park are our best sales team.
We have owners here that can afford the top of the range holiday homes but we also have owners that can only just afford an older one, all are welcome here and everyone is treated in the same way.
Unlike many of the larger caravan parks in the area, we are family owned and run.
I live in the park with my wife and kids so I am available all of the time in case of any problems.
You, the owner, are not just a plot number but one of OUR customers and will get treated as we would want to be treated ourselves.
I am the one to deal with for sales, problems, I cut the grass, site and connect caravans, look after the gardens, maintain the bowling green, take care of security etc, etc, so you will not be passed to different departments to get something sorted out.
Sometimes the old-fashioned ways are the best.
We have been here for some 22 years already – time has flown by!
The park has some 103 plots spread over about 4.5 acres, so we are a small park but each year I try and improve on what we have got.
When I say to Cath “I have got an idea!!” she wonders what’s going to happen next!
We look forward to being here another 22 years and more, I am not sure what project will be next for Pentre Mawr, but I am sure I will think of something… “I know, I have got an idea!”
Please feel free to come and have a look around at any time, we do not employ high-pressure salespeople only interested in pushing you into a caravan and then forget your name, we prefer to let the park sell itself, along with all of our happy owners of course!”