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Tonfanau Anti-Aircraft Training Camp

Loading Map
Map ReferenceSH50SE
Grid ReferenceSH5649004300
Unitary (Local) AuthorityGwynedd
Old CountyMerioneth

Tonfanau camp was established in 1937/8 in anticipation of the Second World War. Anti-aircraft gunners trained here, firing at targets towed by planes from Morfa Airfield or RAF Towyn.

The total area of camp was about 220 acres which included the Commanding Officer’s residence at Cefn Cambeth (4 acres). Dining facilities included three steam-heated cookhouses with dining rooms, each seating 600 people at one sitting. For recreation ten acres of land were laid out for football, cricket and hockey pitches together with a running track. Two tennis courts were provided within the camp. A Camp Theatre seating 1, 000 was fully equipped for cinema and live shows. There were 260 accommodation buildings (mostly brick built) which were in good condition at closure in 1965 as well as a hospital and two electricity substations.

The Great Western Railway ran through the camp and had a small railway station on site (Tonfanau Railway Station, NPRN:41335). A goods yard was also situated within the camp. A larger goods yard at Tywyn provided facilities for loading and unloading large freight such as anti-aircraft guns.

After the war, young men on National Service were posted to Tonfanau for anti-aircraft training. The military authorities closed the camp in 1965. The camp reopened in the autumn of 1972 to host 1,500 refugees after Idi Amin expelled the established Asian population from Uganda. It has since been mostly demolished.

In 2023, the Commission embarked on a new community engagement project, ‘Places I Remember’ that celebrates Welsh Asian culture and, in particular, the history of those expelled from Uganda in 1972, initially settled at Tonfanau Camp. The project is intended to raise awareness of the remarkable religious, cultural, social and economic contributions that South Asians have made to Welsh life and will create a permanent record for present and future generations. This project is being funded by the Welsh Government as part of its anti-racist Wales programme.

We are encouraging a broad collaboration on this project and welcome organisations and individuals to email us on to connect with the project.

Source: Rees Ivor Jones, The Military in Tywyn 1795–1999 (Tywyn, 2000)

Nicola Roberts, July 2023.