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Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 33018

Map Reference SH78SE

Grid Reference SH7882

Unitary (Local) Authority Conwy

Old County Caernarfonshire

Community Llandudno

Type of Site TOWN

Broad Class CIVIL

Period Multiperiod

Site Description According to tradition, St Tudno was a son of Seithenyn, one of the rulers of Cantref y Gwaelod, the legendary drowned nation swallowed into Cardigan Bay in the sixteenth century. Tudno and his six brothers sought refuge at the monastery of Bangor Is Coed, and Tudno then founded a cell on the Great Orme, which gave the name Llandudno to the area.

Previously a small fishing and copper mining town, the large-scale development of Llandudno as a seaside resort originates from the late 1840s. In 1846, Owen Williams, born on Anglesey, but in business at Liverpool is said to have proposed a resort to John Williams agent of the Mostyn family (local landowners), who had sponsored the enclosure of the common land below the Great Orme. Leases were offered for sale in 1849 and many of the town's hotels date from this time. With the arrival of the railway in the 1850s, the original pier completed in 1858 (NPRN 34159), and the extensive tram system opened in 1902-03, Llandudno was transformed into a highly popular Victorian sea-side holiday resort. The Grand Hotel (NPRN 26539) was opened in 1902, at the time the largest hotel in Wales with 156 bedrooms. St George's Hotel (NPRN 16825) dates from 1854, making it the oldest building on the Promenade which has also featured Codman's Punch and Judy since 1864.

Cadw listed buildings database.
David Gwyn & Merfyn Williams (1996) ‘A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of North West Wales’. Association for Industrial Archaeology

RCAHMW, 14 November 2011.

Llandudno takes its name from the sixth-century church of St Tudno on the Great Orme. According to tradition St Tudno was the son of Seithenyn, the legendary, and irresponsible, king of Cantre’r Gwaelod, the drowned kingdom under Cardigan Bay. There is evidence for Neolithic settlement in the area, and copper mining on the Orme was taking place as early as the Bronze Age, but the Llandudno’s origins lie in the establishment of the Mannor of Gogarth for the Bishop of Bangor in 1284. Until the late 1840’s, Llandudno existed as a small fishing and mining village and its rise to prominence is owed to the development of seaside tourism.

In 1846, a new resort town was proposed and from 1849 the Mostyn family, who held enclosed land along the bay, leased plots to prospective developers. With the arrival of the railway in 1850’s, hotels sprung up along the sea-front and a large pier was built in 1858. In 1902, the tram system was developed and The Grand Hotel, at that time the largest hotel in Wales, was built. To this day, Llandudno’s grid-like layout is evidence of the modern development of this fashionable holiday resort.

With its white beach, picturesque views from the Great and Little Orme across the bay and easy access to Snowdonia, the town drew an international crowd from that start. In a letter dating from 1859, holiday-maker Gottfried Kinkel from Germany reported to have been the first person to swim across Llandudno Bay in an hour and fifty minutes. The Queen of Romania, Elisabeth von Wied, visited in 1890. Growing up, she had been introduced to Welsh poetry by her tutor, the polyglott Georg Sauerwein. During her five-week stay in Llandudno, she participated in the festivities of the National Eisteddfod that year under her pseudonym ‘Carmen Sylva’. According to local legend, Llandudno’s town motto ‘hardd, hafan, hedd’ derives from her description of Wales as ‘beautiful haven of peace’.

Record updated as part of the AHRC-funded project 'Journey to the Past: Wales in historic travel writing from France and Germany'.
R. Singer (Bangor University) and S. Fielding (RCAHMW), 2017.

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