British motor racing legend Nigel Mansell made a pit stop on the Cambrian Coast on Monday to perform the opening ceremony at a family’s new £700,000 restaurant and bar.
Owner Gwynfor Evans and his family have worked over the winter to transform a former bar to a quality venue, renamed Nineteen57, in keeping with the other luxury five star facilities at Islawrffordd Caravan Park at Talybont, near Barmouth.
Mansell, who has holidayed at the park for 58 years, since he was four years old and still has a caravan holiday home there, is a close family friend of the Gwynfor and his sons, Dylan and Geraint. Gwynfor actually lays claim to setting Mansell on the road to motor racing stardom by starting him go-karting.
“How many people can say they have been coming on holiday to the same place for 58 years?” he asked. “I hope that I can keep coming here for many more years.
“To have the friendship and support of the Evans family is something that I have treasured all my life. Loyalty is something that a lot of people don’t understand these days.
“I feel like part of the Evans family and I’m incredibly proud of the evolution of the park and what has been achieved here over many years.”
Mansell, who is launching a new book, Staying on Track, in September, described the Cambrian Coast in his top 10 favourite places in the world. “It’s the best kept secret,” he said. “This beautiful part of the coastline from Aberdyfi through to Porthmadog has changed very little in 58 years.”
Nineteen57 has a 40-cover fine dining restaurant and a bar area that will comfortably seat 90 people. New chef manager is Sion Wellings, who has worked at Portmeirion Hotel and he is assisted by his parents, Paul and Iola Wellings.
The bar and restaurant, which will be open all year round, has created 20 full and part-time jobs and provided work over the winter for local tradesmen.
Mayor of Barmouth Councillor Matthew Harris welcomed the opening of Nineteen57 as a “special” place for local people and visitors to dine out, socialise and hold events. “The attention to detail that the Evans family has for the whole park is fantastic,” he said.
The 25-acre park, which has recently received a Gold 5 Pennant award from the AA, has 200 caravan holiday homes, 75 fully serviced, hard standing pitches for touring caravans and motorhomes and 30 tent pitches.
The park’s facilities include a swimming pool complex with a Jacuzzi, sauna and luxury toilet block and an entertainment complex. The Evans family has invested more than £3 million in the park over the past 11 years, including around £100,000 in repairing sea defences after last winter’s storms.
John Billingham, the park’s business manager, thanked everyone who had worked on the project since last November and welcomed the support of customers throughout the years of expenditure and improvements.
He also thanked Mansell for his continued support not only for the park but also the Cambrian Coast. “Many people may not know that Nigel does an ambassadorial role for this wonderful area in which we live and work,” he said.
Mr Billingham explained that the Evans family decided last year to upgrade the former Henry’s Bar, which was looking tired after 20 years. “Our customers were looking for a nice place to eat and drink, which was in keeping with the park’s high quality facilities,” he said.
“We are delighted with the finished result and all the feedback from owners on the park and visitors has been very encouraging.”