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Map ReferenceSH61NW
Grid ReferenceSH6123015820
Unitary (Local) AuthorityGwynedd
Old CountyMerioneth
Type Of SiteTOWN
PeriodPost Medieval

Barmouth is an historic resort town and harbour situated on the northern edge of the mouth of the Mawddach estuary, served by the main Cambrian Coastline railway. It was a popular Victorian resort town.

T Driver.

As the town name indicates, Barmouth (in Welsh Abermaw) is located on the estuary of the river Mawddach. First recorded as a settlement of four houses in a survey of 1565, little is known about the town prior to the eighteenth century. As coastal shipping increased in the late eighteenth century, Barmouth developed as a ship building centre, with a harbour supporting fishing and the export of wool from the Merioneth sheep farms. Despite the picturesque surroundings, the infrastructure for sea bathing developed only in the first half of the nineteenth century.

With the arrival first of the Great Western Railway from Shrewsbury, and later the Aberystwyth and Welsh Coast Railway from the south, more and more tourists began to arrive, making it necessary for the town to expand. Owing to the close proximity of the sheer cliffs to the coast line, the new guest houses were built on rising terraces against the rocks and amused tourists frequently commented that it was possible to look into the chimneys of the houses in the streets below. In contrast to other popular seaside towns in Wales, Barmouth never developed an overtly resort architecture, but retained its appeal as a place visited for the simple and picturesque experience.

During one particularly enchanting walk along the beach in moonlight in the 1880s, the German holidaymaker Johann Jakob Honegger witnessed an extremely rare sighting of milky seas in the northern hemisphere.

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.


Halsalm, Orbach and Voelcker mention some of the buildings of Barmouth in The Buildings of Wales: Gwynedd (2009). Of the High Street, they write 'tall mixed commercial buildings and houses line the long street running north. As in Dolgellau, turnings and widenings give unplanned hints of squares' (p. 553). The HSBC bank occupies most of an early nineteenth-century four-bay terrace, the middle storey removed for an early twentieth century sandstone front for the North & South Wales Bank’ (p. 553). The Walter Lloyd Jones shop which adjoins  the HSBC bank is similar in style: 'four-bay late Georgian, with later nineteenth century glazed iron canopy’ (p. 553). The Crown Hotel meanwhile, dwarves the early nineteenth century three-storeyd The StepsBuilt in the late nineteenth century, the Crown Hotel has 'arched-triplet upper windows, and flanking open-pedimented wings.’ (p. 553)

They also mention dwellings such as ‘the Gables and Glencairn in Llanaber Road' which 'introduce turn-of-the-century red tiles, half-timber and fancy glazing.’ Craig Mynach and Cil Mynach were also built at the turn-of-the-century, 'in roughcast with fiery red brick and terracotta.' Both houses 'have canted hipped bays – each house with a smaller one beside a larger outer one. The windows similar to Douglas’s Castle Hotel, Conwy.’ Hanlith Terrace, built in 1890, is a four-storey building with sawtooth gables’ (p. 554). Tanrallt is described as early C19, three-storey, with later stucco' (p. 554). Penygrisiau is a 'colour-washed, late seventeenth century [building with] a tall gable chimney to the street and outside steps to the upper floor.' Tanyfron is a 'short early nineteenth century three-storey terrace of three' set back from the road (p 553). 

Tanyfron, Barmouth: ‘set back, TANYFRON, a short early C19 three-storey terrace of three’ Halsalm, R., Orbach J., and Voelcker, A., (2009) The Buildings of Wales: Gwynedd (p. 553)

Situated above and a little to the south of the main nucleus of Barmouth, Rock Terrace and St George's Terrace form 'a little village, were the famous settlement established c. 1874 by Ruskin for his utopian Guild of St George “for the education of English peasantry,” in practice a condominium with selected tenants and controlled rents. The thirteen cottages were donated by Mrs Fanny Talbot of Tŷ’n Ffynnon nearby, who also gave Dinas Oleu, the top of the cliff, as the first property of the National Trust in 1895’ Halsalm, R., Orbach J., and Voelcker, A., (2009) The Buildings of Wales: Gwynedd (p. 552)

RCAHMW, 2021

application/pdfETW - European Travellers to Wales ProjectDescription of a visit to Barmouth by Friedrich Althaus from 'Sommerbilder aus England und Wales' (1889). Text available in Welsh, English, French and German. Produced through the European Travellers to Wales project.