MORE than 8,500 people have visited the Penarth Pier Pavilion in the first month since its long-awaited opening.

The multi-purpose £4.2million venue has proven hugely popular over the last month as people have been curious to see what the finished article is like.

The near 70-seater cinema has continued to sell out, the annual Town Mayor’s Christmas Painting Competition exhibition has proven hugely popular and the newly opened pop-up café and restaurant has satisfied the appetites of a wide range of visitors.

Room 617, a meeting room offering spectacular views of the Bristol Channel, has also attracted visitors from the likes of Lincolnshire, Bristol, Gloucestershire and the Welsh valleys.

David Trotman, director of Penarth Pier Pavilion, said that December had been a “test month” for the pavilion in the run-up to Christmas.

“We are delighted that more than 8,500 people have been through the doors in the first month alone,” he said.

“It’s been absolutely brilliant and it’s been lovely seeing the reactions on people’s faces when they see it for the first time.

“This has been achieved by the likes of the Advent Sunday afternoons and performances from local primary schools Evenlode and Albert."

He added: “The highlight so far has been the pop-up café. Even when it’s belting down outside people are still coming down for their coffee and sandwich. “

The pavilion closed on Christmas Eve and is due to reopen on January 2, but the pop-up café and restaurant will remain closed for the first few weeks of the year so that refurbishment and modification works can be completed in the kitchen.

Dr Trotman said that the reason for this was that Environmental Health had visited the building and said a number of improvements needed to be made for health and safety reasons. As well as the installation of a new sink and sockets, there will also be checks on the doors and floors after a number of leaks from the recent stormy weather. There will also be checks to the tiling and plumbing.

“You can only find out about a building once you have been in it,” said Dr Trotman.

“It’s quite frustrating but it’s got to be done.

“It’s taking two or three weeks out but then it should be set for the next 100 years.”

He added that it was quite difficult to alter the pavilion because it was a listed building.

During the improvement works the pavilion will remain open for cinema showings and art exhibitions, but won’t be serving food until the end of January.

Dr Trotman added that he was delighted that the building was now being seen as the “people’s pavilion” and that it had been described as a “peaceful and happy place” and a “comfy place to visit”.

“That’s so central to our aim and shows it’s been a great success,” he said.