The first serious settlement of the area came about on the Great Orme, the large limestone headland that towers over the town. It was the geological riches that were beneath the surface that first drew those Bronze Age settlers to call the area home. The Great Orme has rich seams of copper ore running through it, the basic requirement for making bronze. Copper ore was mined from the Orme on and off into the Victorian era. The limestone of the Orme itself quarried for building much of the town. So from the Bronze age through the iron age, the Romans, Vikings and Victorians the Great Orme drew civilisations for its natural resources.
The earliest recorded history of the area in official records was the conveyance of the Manor of Gogarth by King Edward I to Anian, Bishop of Bangor in 1284, in recognition of services rendered to the crown, notably the baptism of the first English Prince of Wales, newly born at Caernarfon. At this time the manor comprised of three small settlements; the township of Y Gogarth at the south-western ‘corner’ of the Great Orme was latterly the smallest but it contained the palace of the Bishop of Bangor.The palace was burnt down by Owain Glyndwr in 1400 and the ruins have mostly been washed away together with much of the township by coastal erosion in the Conwy Estuary. The second settlement was Y Cyngreawdr in the north, this significant agricultural yet north facing township includes the original parish church and rectory of St Tudno, a sixth or seventh century foundation. Following the Glyndwr uprising, the villagers of the Creuddyn peninsular were harshly taxed and by 1507 they had nearly all fled their homes. Henceforth the cultivated land lay fallow and is now grazed by sheep and goats. Thirdly Yn Wyddfid in the south-east, below the Iron Age hill fort of Pen y Dinas at the north eastern “corner” of the Great Orme. With the reopening of the copper mines from the 18th century onwards, this township grew considerably in size with the streets and cottages of the mining village laid out on the largely abandoned agricultural holdings.
By 1847 Llandudno had grown to a population of not much more than a thousand, largely employed by the mining, subsistence agriculture and fishing and served by the new church of St. George built in 1840. In 1843 an Enclosure Act was passed in parliament and 832 acres of 955 acres of land available that makes up much of Llandudno today was distributed to Hon. Lloyd Mostyn as a result.
A holiday Destination
In 1848, Owen Williams, an architect and surveyor from Liverpool, presented Lord Mostyn with plans to develop these lands behind Llandudno Bay as a holiday resort. These were enthusiastically pursued by Lord Mostyn. The influence of the Mostyn Estate and its agents over the years was to become paramount in the development of Llandudno and especially after the appointment of George Felton as surveyor and architect in 1857. During the years 1857 to 1877 much of central Llandudno was developed under Felton’s supervision. George Felton also undertook architectural design work including the design and execution of Holy Trinity Church in Mostyn Street.
The Mostyn family and other local businessmen soon transformed the town into a Victorian sea-side holiday resort, and with the arrival of the railway in the 1850’s visitors and their hard earned wages arrived in abundance looking to escape the industrial North of England, thus changing the fortune of Llandudno forever.
The Famous Llandudno Pier
The original pier at just 242ft long was completed in 1858 and with it visions of Llandudno as the main port over to Ireland, exporting coal from the mines of Denbighshire and rivalling its neighbour Holyhead. The ships would then return from Ireland and Liverpool bringing even more visitors to Llandudno. But these visions were destroyed in the great storm on 25th October 1859 and Llandudno’s exposed coast was clearly shown to be unsuitable as a port. And so a new pleasure pier was constructed and completed in 1878 and a curious major extension of the pier in 1884 was in a landwards direction along the side of what was the Baths Hotel (now where the Grand Hotel stands) to provide a new entrance with the Llandudno Pier Pavilion Theatre at the North Parade end of the promenade, thus increasing the pier’s length to 2,295 feet (700 m). The longest in Wales and the 5th longest in the UK.
Today Llandudno has many attractions and has become known as the Queen of Welsh resorts. Visitors come to Llandudno for all sorts of reasons. The Orme not only offers some stunning scenery, there’s the UK’s longest cable car to the top, there’s the beautifully restored cable hauled Victorian tramway, delighting visitors since it opened on July 31st 1902. Whilst up there, there are the Bronze Age copper mines, a golf course, restaurant and much more.
Both of Llandudno’s stunning beaches the West shore and North shore bring visitors in their droves.
If you’re a little less outdoorsy then there is shopping a plenty, and a fantastic choice of pubs and restaurants to rest your weary feet and refresh oneself!
Venue Cymru is also a very popular destination in the town which often stages theatre, film, touring musicals and bands, opera, ballet and comedy.
More information can be found at www.visitllandudno.org.uk.