08 Trawsfynydd village   (PRN 18274)

Historic background

The village of Trawsfynydd was apparently originally called Llanedenowan, but this was later (date uncertain) changed and, according to Lhwyd (1911),  the current name is thought to have no derivation other than that most (all?) of the roads leading to it crossed over mountains.  In the 17th century, there were 12 houses and a church in Trawsfynydd itself (ibid). The village has grown considerably since 1840 (when it was shown on the tithe map). Situated on the then main road and some distance, surprisingly, from the bridge where the road crossed the Afon Prysor (the village is actually sited on the top of a  small but distinct ridge), it then comprised a main core centred on the ‘square’ just to the south of the church (see photograph).  This was a pre-Reformation church, originally dedicated to St Mary and later to the Holy Trinity and is closely associated with St. John Roberts (see above, section 8.7.2).  Post-disestablishment, it was re-dedicated to St Madryn, was burned down in 1978 and re-opened in 1981 (it remains the only listed building in the village).  At that time, there was very little other development along the roads which radiated out to the north, east and south.  This core was surrounded by a pattern of small, irregular fields (possibly remnants of a late medieval organisation).  Later in the 19th century the village expanded: in addition to several chapels, two inns and several shops (including the Cambrian Stores) next to the original core, ribbon developments were built along the three roads leading from the centre: along the road to the north, Fron-galed and Pant-yr-celyn terraces were built; on the eastern road, Ty’n-y-pwll cottages and particularly Ardudwy and Ty-llwd terraces (the name of the latter taken from a farm marked here on the tithe map) and eventually the station (the Great Western Railway line from Bala to Ffestinog, and thus the station here, opened in 1882 and finally closed in 1964 – see area 12); and, on the main road to the south, a hotel, Fron-wynion terrace, Glascoed, Rhiwlas, Bryn-hyfryd and other short terraces, along with another chapel.  Further out, nearer the bridge, Gwyndy and Bron-gwynydy are two short terraces opposite each other alongside the road.  Interestingly, the physical expansion of the village in the later 19th century is contradicted by the fall in the number of inhabitants working in the quarries at Blaenau Ffestiniog, which fell from 120 in 1839 to just 12 in 1874-9.  Hedd Wyn (see above section), was born in the village on 13th January, 1887, before his family moved to Yr Ysgwrn, a farm in Cwm Prysor (area 12). Trawsfynydd was bombed on 6th November, 1940, possibly in an attempt aimed at destroying the station.  The Royal Artillery had had a permanent training range at Bronaber (area 20) since 1905, and since then (and particularly after the station had been extended in 1911) there had been heavy military traffic on the branch line (particularly in the summer months) as all personnel, horses and guns came in by rail.

When the A470 was improved in the early 1970s, the village was by-passed, from Pont Trawsfynydd at the south end of the village to the eastern end of Fron-galed terrace, cutting off the direct link with the former station and eastern part of the village.

Key historic landscape characteristics

terraced housing,  chapels, village infrasctructure, disused station

The village has the characteristics of a nineteenth century industrial village which expanded during the century (although its economic basis is unknown).  Short terraces of workers’ housing predominate, but there is a clear chronology of building within the village, which has a recognisable early nucleus around the church, and there is some evidence of earlier buildings in this area, including the inn (Ty Gwyn) with stabling at rear.  An early 19th-century phase of growth is traceable in several Georgian vernacular buildings (for example the White Lion on High Street, and Glasfryn) which used large blocks of stone; whilst later 19th century terraces (marked by their snecked masonry) developed along the main road to the north and south of the original centre.

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, 100017916, 2005

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