Historic Landscape Characterisation

Amlwch – Area 3 Amlwch settlement PRN 28643

Mona Lodge, a late 18th century house

Sir Thomas Jones School, Amlwch




Historical background

This area represents the settlement outside the historic core which now forms a Conservation Area (04) but which may initially have been developed in the late eighteenth century (for instance around Bethesda Street, Queen Street and Bethesda Street). Even so, present housing stock is nineteenth century, and is otherwise made up largely of nineteenth and twentieth century development and ‘overspill'. The Amlwch tithe map shows it as completely undeveloped, though it is possible that the map did not show the presence of squatter cottages. The secondary school is a prominent landscape area almost in its own right, and was erected in 1948-53. There are a number of important and distinctive buildings within this area.

Key historic landscape characteristics

This is the area that lies on the periphery of the Amlwch Conservation Area (area 04). It includes the greater part of the Amlwch settlement and many of its historic buildings, as well as late twentieth century social housing and an industrial estate.

The east west axis of Bethesda Street (effectively a continuation of Mona Street, one of the principal arteries of the historic town) contains much nineteenth century housing as well as the remarkable and substantial Mona Lodge, a gentry dwelling with associated stables, probably of late eighteenth century construction (it was in existence by 1794) and built for the mine/estate agent, John Price of Cadnant. It has now been separated into four separate dwellings (SH 4389 92823 - stables at SH 4391 9286).

Much of the housing stock is nineteenth century in date and ‘industrial-vernacular' in inspiration, often incorporating dormer windows. Some of the older houses along Queen Street and Bethesda Street are early nineteenth century in date, though the majority have been modernised, making it difficult to date them with certainty. Some are understood to contain slag blocks in the fabric, after the manner of a number of early industrial houses in Swansea . The street itself, formerly known as Methusalem Street , may have originally been laid out by the eighteenth century entrepreneur Methusalem Jones, who lived for a while in Amlwch but is chiefly remembered for initating the commercial quarrying of slate in Blaenau Ffestiniog.

The National School of 1824 on Bull Bay Road at SH 4404 9301 (a very early purpose-built school by North Walian standards), is made all the more unusual by its emphatically polite architecture. Robert Roberts Sgolor Mawr, the lexicographer and autobiographer, was briefly the schoolmaster in charge. It is now in re-use as a nursery school and a commercial unit. On the same road but further away from the centre of the town is the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea and St Winifride, designed in the 1930s by G. Rinvolucri to resemble an upturned boat. It makes use of a high-dome stressed concrete construction.

Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones (formerly the County Secondary School ), the earliest purpose-built comprehensive school in Britain , was built between 1948 and 1953 on an area of high ground to the

south-east of the main part of the town; its rock-dressed masonry tower echoes the design of the Pearl engine-house at the copper mine. It was designed with broad corridors to make the circulation of large numbers of pupils easier between hall, gymnasia and classrooms housed in adjoining blocks. The de- sign is characterised by large areas of glazing and a generous use of space. Its effect is mitigated by the leisure centre opposite, but it is nevertheless an impressive set of structures particularly for visitors arriving at Amlwch from the west.

It is noted here as it is noted of 04, that the town of Amlwch lies in a comparatively low-lying area, and that the roads in to it offer interesting and attractive vistas. In this connection, the taller buildings add considerably to the visual appeal of the town as a whole – these include the ‘engine-house' tower of the school and the church tower (04), as well as the Octel water-tower (06) and the upstanding features associated with the mine – the Morris shaft (outside the Historic Landscape area), the Pearl engine house and the windmill (09).



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