North West Wales

Llandudno's plans for Alice in Wonderland attraction

Lewis Carroll took this photo of Alice Liddell in 1858
Image caption Alice Liddell spent summer holidays in Llandudno with her family

Plans are being drawn up for a new Alice in Wonderland visitor attraction in Llandudno.

It's one of several ideas to use the resort's connection with Alice to bring more visitors to the town and develop the tourist industry.

Alice Liddell, the little girl who was the inspiration for Alice in the books, spent her family holidays in Llandudno in the 19th Century.

But a Wonderland-themed visitor centre in the town closed in 2008.

The house which had been the Liddell family's seaside home was demolished in the same year.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who went by the pen name Lewis Carroll, came up with the story of Alice and her trip to a fantasy world while on a boat trip with the real Alice and her family in Oxford in 1862.

Jim Jones, coastal community development officer for Conwy council, said the town had not been very good at using its connections with Alice in Wonderland in the last few years.

"For the last five or so years, we've been in the doldrums in terms of selling Alice to the world," he said.

"Now, we've got a partnership with Llandudno town council, community groups and private businesses, and we've got a real opportunity to build on the Alice brand to promote Llandudno to the world as a destination to come and learn about the story of Alice in Wonderland."

Conwy council is now developing an interactive Alice in Wonderland trail around the town, marking the resort's connections with Alice and the Wonderland books, written by Lewis Carroll.

Mr Jones said the council hoped to mirror the success of areas like the Lake District which used its connections with the children's author Beatrix Potter.

He added: "It's a well known fact that the Japanese flock into the Lake District to follow Beatrix Potter and to buy souvenirs and memorabilia.

"If we can replicate that within Llandudno, then we're on to a winner.

"Tourism is vitally important to the economy here. We estimate that in the area around Llandudno alone, it is responsible for providing around 5,000 jobs."

Conwy council isn't the only organisation trying to make better use of the connection with Alice in Wonderland.

The Coffee Culture café inside Waterstone's bookshop in Llandudno will soon be re-decorated with an Alice theme.

'Tourism boost'

Barry Mortlock, the managing director, said: "There'll be plenty of the well known characters in there, from the Queen of Hearts to the Mad hatter.

"Alice will be watching whether you 'eat me' or 'drink me'. We're really excited by the changes."

Mr Mortlock is working with Conwy council on the Alice trail.

Image caption The Liddell's old second home in Llandudno before it was demolished in 2008

He has also bought the exhibits from the old Wonderland visitor centre, and has started working on plans to open a new visitor attraction in the next few years.

He said: "In the past, you'd see coach loads of Japanese and Americans here because of the Alice connection. It brought a lot of interest to Llandudno, and that's what we'd like to recreate.

"It will be two or three years before we can get things off the ground, but we're looking at a quality attraction which uses technology to create an impact, and which will help boost tourism for the whole area."

The Liddell family kept a second home in Llandudno called Penmorfa, but it was demolished in 2008.

It is thought that Alice Liddell spent holidays at the house for nine years.

The Liddells owned the property until 1873, and later it was turned into the 37-bed Gogarth Abbey Hotel.

Campaigners fought to save the building.

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