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The development of the town continued to be rapid and Penarth soon became self-sufficient, with its own local government, a thriving shopping centre and many new community facilities.
The Norman church of St Augustine (on the headland) dates from this period.In 1875, three of the constituent parishes - Penarth, Cogan, and Llandough - were merged into the Penarth Local Board, giving a population of 6,228 persons by 1881.This figure had doubled by 1891 with the opening of the railway and had increased even further by 1901 to 14,228 persons.The Plymouth estate office retained control over the planning, building and development of the new town, offering 99-year leases and remaining the ground landlord.All householders in Penarth were tenants of the Plymouth Estates, paying an annual ground rent.
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The civic town crest was drawn by the town's architect in 1875 from a detailed brief prepared by the Town Board.' to denote that the town is in Wales and a sailing vessel recognising Penarth's long association with sea commerce.