Historic Landscape Characterisation

Arfon - Area 3 Deiniolen and Clwt y Bont


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

Historic background

A coalescence of two early nineteenth-century slate quarrymen’s villages, built on areas of late eighteenth century squatter encroachment on the Waun Gynfi.

The dwellings include some very early houses from the first (1830s) phase of construction, including both single units of varying profile, and terraces, built along the course of the slate road and the course of the original Dinorwic railway. There is also housing from later period of the nineteenth century, though there seems to have been comparatively little development between the 1860s and the construction of social housing in the 1940s. A remarkable feature of this area is the provision of social infrastructure on the periphery, evident in the position of Llandinorwic church and Capel y Waun, both built on the moor some little way from the main focus of the village, and the Carnegie library immediately to the north of the village.

The course of the quarry railway of 1825 has now become a road; near the point where it crosses the Afon Galedffrwd, the sites of a number of mills are apparent. The substantial brick-built factory building at SH 5708 6368 falls into this area.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Industrial settlement (slate quarry)

The morphology of the two villages illustrate the pressure on land for building purposes whilst the quarries were expanding, as well as the reluctance of quarrymen to live on the Vaynol estate. Every available corner of the fields has been used for the construction.

Deiniolen in particular also exemplifies the earliest types of purely industrial housing in Gwynedd, apparently uninfluenced by vernacular agricultural dwellings, beginning with the tiny and shoddily-constructed houses along the slate road, dating from the 1820s, the more substantial Rhes Fawr, and the two-up-and-two-down houses built in the 1860s.

Clwt y Bont is more typical of early industrial settlements in Gwynedd in that it is less apparently planned, and the characteristic short terraces built into the slope are evident here. Its plan recalls and preserves the course of the Dinorwic Railway of 1825. The sites of some of the mills are evident, and some grew into workshops of significant size, which remain in use.

The social infrastructure of the two villages is impressive, though much of it evidently had to be constructed at a little distance from the main housing stock. As well as the mid nineteenth-century chapels, the substantial Kennedy church and the schools, the Carnegie library is an attractive feature.

The dire and evident poverty of this area itself reflects the social dislocation caused by the closure of Dinorwic Quarry in 1969.

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