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Pwllheli Town - A Brief History


Pwllheli is the main market town for the Llyn Peninsula in Gwynedd. It has a large Welsh-speaking population.

The town's name means saltwater basin or pool. The pronunciation of Pwllheli includes a sound not found in the English language but is very approximately pu-HLEL-ee.

The town received its charter as a borough by Edward, the Black Prince in 1355, and a market is still held each Wednesday in the centre of the town.

The town grew around the shipbuilding and fishing industries, and quarrying granite at Carreg Yr Imbill (Gimlet/Gimblet Rock).

The harbour was always vibrant - wines from the Continent were imported through Pwllheli and the coast was alive with the stories of smugglers and pirates. In the 19th century the town was one of the main fishing and ship-building centres in North Wales with up to 28 ships in production at the same time.

Then came the train and Pwllheli developed further as a centre of social and political life, business and tourism. A grammar school was founded 400 years ago, land was regained from the sea and, as one of the Boroughs which elected the great Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, Pwllheli was witness to great events.

In the 1890s, the town was developed further by a Cardiff businessman, Solomon Andrews. He was responsible for developing part of the promenade on the West End with a hotel and houses. In order to provide the stone required to build the Promenade, roads and houses at West End, Pwllheli, Solomon Andrews leased a quarry at Carreg-y-Defaid from Mrs Jones Parry. In 1894 he built a 3ft guage horse drawn tramway to carry the stone to the West End. The tramway was extended to the town end of Cardiff Road and in 1896 when Solomon Andrews purchased the Glyn-y-Weddw the tramway was extended at its western end to terminate opposite the gates to the mansion. The coastal section was washed away in a storm in 1896 but was later rebuilt. The section along the coast was finally closed after it was again washed away in a violent storm in October 1927. The section from the West End to the town was closed in 1928 when the roads were adopted by the Council and the track taken up. An 1897 tram was presented to Pwllheli council in 1969 and has been fully restored and is currently on loan to the Welsh Highland who intend to display it in their museum in Portmadog.

From 1899 to 1919 Pwllheli Corporation also operated a half mile long horse tramway. This was built to the gauge of 2ft 6in. It ran from the station to South Beach. Despite proposals in 1908, this line was never connected to the Pwllheli & Llanbedrog tramways

Today, the harbour is famous for leisure, with its 420 berth pontoon marina "Hafan Pwllheli" and sailing club. For Pwllheli, it is another historic period as the pleasant unspoilt market town gains its place on the world stage as an international centre for watersports and leisure.

Written by Stephen Tudor
29 August 2009


22/11/2012 13:21


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