Historic Landscape Characterisation

Vale of Ffestiniog - Area 20 Tremadoc

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

Historic background

Tremadoc is an outstanding example of a planned urban community, created by William Alexander Madocks on land recovered from the Traeth Mawr by the first embankment, of 1800. Designed as a composite whole, with three main streets leading to and from a central square (see photograph), it established a pattern of Regency-style architecture within the area that lasted well into the late 19th-century. Amongst its claims to fame are the first Welsh chapel with a classical facade, based on Inigo Jones’s design for the Covent Garden chapel in London, and the first Gothic revival church in Wales.

A settlement, known initially as Pentre Gwaelod, was in existence here by 1805, and the central Market Square was built between 1806 and 1808. Capel Peniel was opened in 1811. Other dwellings were added along Dublin Street in the later 19th- century and houses were constructed on the site of the ‘bason’ (the canal wharf) in the 1980s.

Madocks’s own home, Tan-yr-Allt, later home to Shelley and to several generations of local quarry-owners, is a regency adaptation of an existing building and lies just outside the town (area 4). T E Lawrence, the famous author and soldier, was born in a house in the town which has since been turned into a Christian Mountain Centre. An active local regeneration group, Cyfeillion Cadw Tremadoc, has been instrumental in preserving the village’s architectural character.

For further information, there is a detailed account of the planning, layout, building and early history of Tremadoc in E Beazley's book, 'Madocks and the Wonder of Wales'.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Early 19th-century estate village

As well as the large square and the early nineteenth century buildings which surround it, there are a number of later 19th-century buildings in the immediate vicinity. The church of 1812 is believed to be the oldest Gothic revival church in Wales (and stands nearly opposite the earliest classical chapel building in Wales).

The chapel remains in use, but the church is currently undergoing conversion to an arts centre. All the houses are occupied, there is a shop and two lively pubs in addition to the hotel. The buildings which form part of Madocks’ original scheme survive, though in a number of cases the stonework has been obscured by pebble-dashing, and a late twentieth-century garage has been tacked on to the street front of the buildings on Dublin Road at SH 5611 4017.
The village contains a number of prominent industrial features. The largest is the very substantial textile mill constructed c. 1807 at SH 5639 4032 immediately to the east of the square, with its surviving workers’ cottages. This is currently empty.


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