Victorian Barmouth

Barmouth High Street 1189There have been several 're-buildings' over the years that testify to Barmouth's history. In the 18th century elegantly fronted Georgian buildings replaced some of the earlier vernacular structures in the town, although there are cottages of the older era that remain in Old Town, together with Penygrisiau on the High Street and Ty Gwyn on the quayside. Some of the later Georgian buildings are rather fine and can be seen on the Heritage Trail. 

The arrival of the railway in 1867, however, was the trigger for another significant boom in building in Barmouth and many of the buildings in what is now the town centre date from this time. Any examination of the older photographs of Barmouth can see how the very early buildings made way for later construction. The activity concentrated on serving the new economy with boarding houses, hotels and large public buildings such as the Assembly Rooms (demolished) amongst many shops. A school and library and the Cambrian Establishment were all constructed during these years. The influx of visitors brought problems as well as benefits and the small round lock-up, Ty Crwn, was built during this period to deal with drunkards. However, the new Poor Law of 1832 saw the construction of these lock-ups all over the country so Barmouth may not have been any worse for these misdemeanours than many other places.Barmouth Promenade 1880

That Barmouth was a religious place is beyond doubt. The two large Anglican churches in Barmouth, St David’s and St. Johns, were both built to accommodate the growing number of visitors. St David’s was built just before the Victorian era in 1830 to provide an Anglican presence in the town as the existing, early 13th century, St. Mary’s church is some 2 miles north of the town. There was also a strong non-conformist following which saw the construction of large chapels such as Caersalem and Christchurch, Ebenezer, Siloam and the Congregational Chapel, (now the Dragon Theatre). These gave a distinctly non-conformist perspective to Barmouth with a strong local following. All these buildings, except Christchurch which continues to attract a regular congregation, have found new uses.

 While this period continued to see a declining maritime trade, leisure and tourism became what Barmouth was known for and it was to accommodate the shifting demands of the visitor that the town has since had to manage.