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Thornley Leisure Parks Company History

Mr & Mrs Thornley crop 1

The family run company was established in 1961 by Mr William Sutcliffe Thornley and his wife Mrs Dorothy Thornley when they came to reside in Colwyn Bay.

They moved to Colwyn Bay to run Welsh Home Loaf in Conwy the welsh bakery owned by Mrs Thornley’s father, part of the Champion Bakery Group of Stoke-on- Trent. This was a ‘stop gap’ while they searched for their first caravan park, having had their own caravan on the Morfa Caravan Park in Conwy for 8 years they now wanted to turn their hobby into their business.

Their ambition was realised upon the purchase of Craiglwyd Hall, Penmaenmawr. Originally the Hall had been the family home of the Kneeshaw- Lutons, quarry owners in Penmaemawr many years previous and since then had been used for both prisoners of war and for evacuated children during the war. The derelict Hall where local children had explored and played games was refurbished and the grounds converted to their first caravan park with about 50 caravan pitches. The caravans on the park consist of both privately owned and a small hire fleet. The caravans of today differ greatly form those first parked at Craiglwyd Hall!Their flagship park – Craiglwyd Hall, Penmaenmawr, North Wales became the head office for the company where the administration for all the parks was undertaken for 42 years.

The subsequent caravan parks they acquired to expand the business are:

1961 Mr William Sutcliffe Thornley purchased Craiglwyd Hall, Penmaenmawr, Conwy
1964Lakeside Caravan Park, Stockshill, nr Winsford, Cheshire
1972Maenan Abbey, Maenan, nr Llanrwst, North Wales Previously owned by Mrs Thornley’s Uncle, Eddie Roberts who sold the park to Thornley Leisure in order to purchase The Beach Caravan Park which in turn Thornley Leisure purchased from him on his retirement in 1985
1978Ocean Heights, Chwilog, nr Pwllheli, North Wales
1981Cheshire Broads, Stockshill, nr Winsford, Cheshire. (Merged with Lakeside to make one large park called Lakeside)
1985The Beach, Beach House Road, Llanddulas, nr Abergele, North Wales.
1989Dinlle, Dinas Dinlle, nr Caernarfon, Gwynedd, North Wales
1999Green Pastures, Sarn Bach, nr Abersoch, Gwynedd, North Wales
2003David Thornley purchased Raymond Court offices

David Thornley (William & Dorothy son) joined the business in 1972. David's duties were mainly working outside on parks cutting grass and keeping the parks looking nice.

Mr William Sutcliffe Thornley retired from the business in 1985 and David became the Managing Director. Mr Thornley Snr however was always available in a consultancy capacity.

Craiglwyd Hall remained the Head Office of the company until October 2003 and due to the continued growth of the company, the Head Office base was moved from the Hall to Raymond Court in Colwyn Bay where the existing offices, purchased by Mr David Thornley were completely refurbished to an extremely high standard giving a very comfortable working environment. The administration of all the parks was to be carried on from the new address by David and the five members of staff working in the William Sutcliffe Suite (named after the late William Sutcliffe Thornley founder of the company) at Raymond Court, including David Junior and Libby together with Ann Brook and Andrew Mailer. In January 2004 it was announced that Mr Andrew Mailer was to be made a Director of the company, the first non family member to be a director in the history of the company.

Throughout the company 32 permanent staff are employed working on the various parks. Many staff have worked for the company for a good number of many years giving it stability and consistency. The company has its own in house tradespeople, plumbers, joiners, electrician and decorators. They have the never ending task of maintaining all of the parks to the high standard that is kept throughout. Each park has its own permanent staff including a park manager. The company employs 30 part time seasonal staff during the summer months. Four of the parks have bars, Dinlle, Lakeside, The Beach and Craiglwyd. Dinlle also has an outdoor swimming pook and a big tourer park which attracts many tourist throughout the season making it a very busy park.

Ocean Heights at Chwilog, Maenan Abbey at Llanrwst and Green Pastures in Abersoch, are small parks, the latter having just privately owned caravans while Ocean Heights also has a small hire fleet as does Maenan Abbey.

Each park has an open and closed season. The parks open on the 1st March and the most stay open until 30th November although Lakeside remains open until 14th January so their closed season is quite short compared to other parks. It is during the closed season that many major projects are undertaken on the parks plus the usual round of maintenance, decorating and tidying of the parks. If the weather stays clement there are always ongoing jobs being undertaken by permanent staff whilst it is quiet.

When the parks re-open after the winter break and owners begin to come to their caravans to prepare them for the season, work takes on a different aspect as park staff have to consider their guests first and foremost and attend to their requirements.

All of the parks are situated in picturesque settings in North Wales and Cheshire, although each is individual they are all kept to the same high standards throughout which is in itself a trademark of Thornley Leisure as attention to detail is always paramount on a Thornley run park.

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We have a variety of caravans to buy and hire at our caravan sites.

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Thornley Leisure Parks Head Office, William Sutcliffe Suite, Raymond Court, Prince's Drive, Colwyn Bay, LL29 8HT
Company Reg: 2654712, VAT Number: 159096729, Registered in England & Wales