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Abergele from Tan-y-Gopa.jpg
Abergele from Tan-y-Gopa
Abergele is located in Conwy
Location within Conwy
Population10,577 (2011)
OS grid referenceSH945775
  • Abergele
Principal area
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtLL22
Dialling code01745
PoliceNorth Wales
FireNorth Wales
UK Parliament
Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament
List of places
53°17′N 3°35′W / 53.28°N 3.58°W / 53.28; -3.58Coordinates: 53°17′N 3°35′W / 53.28°N 3.58°W / 53.28; -3.58

Abergele (/æbɜːrˈɡɛlɪ/; Welsh: [ˌabɛrˈɡɛlɛ]; pronunciation) is a market town and community, situated on the north coast of Wales between the holiday resorts of Colwyn Bay and Rhyl, in Conwy County Borough and in the historic county of Denbighshire. Its northern suburb of Pensarn lies on the Irish Sea coast. Abergele and Pensarn railway station serves both resorts. Abergele is often overlooked due to the popularity of towns in nearby Rhyl, Prestatyn, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno and Conwy. Only 46.5% of the population was born in Wales as of the 2011 census.[1]


The meaning of the name Abergele can be deduced by aber being the Welsh word for estuary, river mouth or confluence and Gele the name of the river which flows through the town. Gele is a dialectal form of gelau, which means spear, describing the action of the river cutting through the land. It has also been suggested this river is named because its waters flash brightly. Abergele is often mispronounced as ah-bear-geh-lee by non-native Welsh speakers.


Gwrych Castle
Hill which the hillfort of Castell Cawr is situated

The town itself lies on the A55 road and is known for Gwrych Castle. The town is surrounded by woodland covered hillsides, which contain caves with the rare lesser horseshoe bat.[citation needed] The highest hill is Moelfre Isaf (1040 ft) to the south of the town.

There are views from Cefn-yr-Ogof (669 ft), Gallt-y-Felin-Wynt (Tower Hill) (587 ft) and Castell Cawr (known locally as Tan y Gopa and nicknamed 'Lôn garu' (Lover's Lane)) which is 189 metres (620 feet). Castell Cawr is an Iron Age hillfort, one of several in the area. Dinorben hillfort to the east of town was destroyed in the 1980s.

Abergele (including Pensarn) has a population of around 10,000[2] and is part of the Abergele/Rhyl/Prestatyn urban area with a population of 64,000. Approximately 29% of Abergele has a significant knowledge of Welsh.[citation needed] The town has satellite villages such as Saint George, Betws yn Rhos, Rhyd-y-foel, Belgrano, Llanddulas and Llanfair Talhaearn.

Pensarn and Belgrano are significantly less Welsh than the rest of town, with 69.3% of people having no Welsh identity in the 2011 census.[3]


Bridge Street, Abergele circa 1875
Cottages in Abergele

Abergele was the site of an important clas (Celtic monastery) and remained settled into the 13th century. A "Prince Jonathan of Abergeleu" is listed by the B text of the Annals of Wales as dying during the 9th century reign of Rhodri the Great,[4] although Charles-Edwards has supposed him to have simply been the monastery's abbot.[5] Edward I is known to have briefly stayed there in December 1294 during his invasion of Wales to suppress the revolt of Madog ap Llywelyn.

Sites of historical interest include two Iron Age hillforts; Castell Cawr at Tan y Gopa and Dinorben (now virtually disappeared owing to limestone quarrying) at St. George. On Gallt y Felin Wynt, a hill above the town known as Bryn Tŵr or by its English name 'Tower Hill', is a 17th-century windmill, partially restored in 1930. There is another Iron Age fort at Pen y Corddyn Mawr hill above Rhyd y Foel. There is also another watchtower, 'Tŵr Arglwyddes Emily' or 'Lady Emily's Tower', which is located near Cefn yr Ogof.

Gwrych Castle was built between 1819 and 1825 at the behest of Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh. From 1894 until 1946 it was the residence of the Dundonald family.[6] Gwrych Castle's present owner, California businessman Nick Tavaglione, who bought the landmark in December 1989, put Gwrych up for auction on 2 June 2006, but it failed to sell. The condition of the property is being monitored by the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust.[7] It is undergoing renovation.

The boxers Bruce Woodcock (in the late 1940s) and Randolph Turpin (in 1952) trained at Gwrych Castle. The film Prince Valiant, was filmed there in 1996, starring Edward Fox and Katherine Heigl.

A curious undated inscription can be found on a tombstone in St Michael's parish church (built on the site of the old clas). It states "Here lieth in St Michael's churchyard a man who had his dwelling three miles to the north." As the sea is little more than half a mile away at this point, this suggests that the sea has made some considerable advance over the centuries.[8]

Outside the church is a penitential stone where sinners had to do penance by standing, dressed in white, by the stone and beseech the congregation for mercy as they entered and left the church.[citation needed]

The 1868 Abergele rail disaster was, at that time, the worst railway disaster in Britain. The 33 people who died are buried in a mass grave in the local churchyard.

Abergele Sanitorium was built just outside Abergele in 1910;[9] it became a community hospital in the 1980s.[10]

On 30 June 1969, the evening before the Investiture of the Prince of Wales in Caernarfon, two members of Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (Welsh Defence Movement), Alwyn Jones and George Taylor, were killed when the bomb they were planting outside government offices exploded prematurely.

In 2020 Abergele hosted the 20th edition of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! at Gwrych Castle, and in 2021 it hosted the 21st series due to the Covid pandemic restrictions in Australia.[citation needed]

Tower on Gallt-y-Felin-Wynt, Abergele

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Abergele Parish (W04000105)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  2. ^ "Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Conwy". Archived from the original on 29 August 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  3. ^ "Pensarn national identity". neighbourhood statistics. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  4. ^ The Annals of Wales (B text), p. 10.
  5. ^ Charles-Edwards, T.M. "The Heir-Apparent in Irish and Welsh Law". Celtica, Vol. 9, p. 180–90. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1971. Accessed 27 Feb 2013.
  6. ^ A brief history of Gwrych Castle, Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, archived from the original on 28 February 2009, retrieved 14 March 2009
  7. ^ What is the Castle Trust?, Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, archived from the original on 18 February 2009, retrieved 14 March 2009
  8. ^ Black, Adam and Charles (1857), Black's Picturesque Guide to North Wales, p. 30
  9. ^ "Abergele Hospital, Abergele". National Archives. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Abergele Hospital". Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. Retrieved 24 February 2019.

External links[edit]