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Arfon (UK Parliament constituency)

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Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
Outline map
Boundary of Arfon in Wales for the 2010 general election
Preserved countyGwynedd
Electorate39,349 (December 2018)[1]
Created fromCaernarfon and Conwy[2]
Created fromCaernarvonshire
Replaced byCaernarvonshire
SeneddArfon, North Wales

Arfon was a constituency in Wales represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament at Westminster.[n 1] Although it is relatively large by geographical area, the constituency is a predominantly urban rather than rural seat, with the majority of the population living in the two towns of Bethesda and Caernarfon, as well as in the city of Bangor, on which the constituency is based. "Arfon" is a historical name for the area, meaning "facing Anglesey"; it is also the name of the former district council. This seat was created by the Welsh Boundary Commission in time for the 2010 general election; it replaced the old seat of Caernarfon. Bangor was in the old seat of Conwy. The same boundaries were used for the Arfon Welsh Assembly constituency in the 2007 Welsh Assembly election.

It is the smallest constituency on the mainland of Great Britain by electorate, and larger only than the two Scottish island constituencies, Na h-Eileanan an Iar and Orkney and Shetland. The total population as of the 2011 census was 60,573.

The Arfon division of Caernarvonshire was a former UK Parliament constituency, which existed from 1885 until 1918. Before 1885 and after 1918 the area was part of the Caernarvonshire constituency. The Liberal MP William Rathbone represented the Arfon seat until 1895, followed by fellow Liberal William Jones. Upon the death of Mr Jones, Griffith C. Rees, for the Liberal Party, was elected unopposed at the subsequent by-election.[3]

On 11 November 2022, the then current MP Hywel Williams announced his intention to stand down at the 2024 general election after more than 20 years as MP.[4]

The constituency is set to be abolished, as part of the 2023 Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies and under the June 2023 final recommendations of the Boundary Commission for Wales for the 2024 United Kingdom general election. Its wards is to be split between Bangor Aberconwy and Dwyfor Meirionnydd.[5]


Map of boundaries 2010-2024

When first created in 1885, the constituency was defined as the Petty Sessional Divisions of Bangor, Conway and Nant-Conway, with the Parishes of Llanddeinilen and Llanberis (which were within the Carnarvon Petty Sessional Division). The constituency included the boroughs of Bangor and Conway which were part of the Carnarvon District of Boroughs constituency; only those who owned freehold land within the boroughs could vote in elections for the Arfon constituency as a second vote.

The new constituency was a merger of northern Caernarfon and western Conwy. The electoral wards used to create the current constituency are entirely within the preserved county of Gwynedd; They are Arllechwedd, Bethel, Bontnewydd, Cadnant, Cwm-y-Glo, Deiniol, Deiniolen, Dewi, Garth, Gerlan, Glyder, Groeslon, Hendre, Hirael, Llanberis, Llanllyfni, Llanrug, Llanwnda, Marchog, Menai (Bangor), Menai (Caernarfon), Ogwen, Peblig, Penisarwaun, Pentir, Penygroes, Seiont, Talysarn, Tregarth and Mynydd Llandygai, Waunfawr and Y Felinheli.

Electoral history[edit]

The latest boundary change created a battleground in Arfon particularly for Labour, Plaid Cymru, and the Conservatives, with the latter being labelled as a 'resurgent' party by the Caernarfon Herald.[6] The scale of contention had been reached due to the large shift in boundary changes which in turn created a need within each party to achieve a relatively unforeseen outcome. Plaid Cymru had previously never represented Bangor, which had been held by Conservative Wyn Roberts for twenty-seven years and a further thirteen under Labour's Betty Williams. It had however also been more than thirty years since Caernarfon had been represented by anyone other than Plaid Cymru.

In the event, Plaid gained the seat (which had been notionally Labour) in 2010 and held it in 2015; their victory in 2017 was by just 92 votes, the tightest margin in Wales in that election.

Members of Parliament[edit]

MPs 1885–1918[edit]

Election Member[7] Party
1885 William Rathbone Liberal
1895 William Jones Liberal
1915 Caradoc Rees Liberal
1918 constituency abolished

MPs since 2010[edit]

Election Member[7] Party
2010 Hywel Williams Plaid Cymru


Election results since 1900

Elections 1885–1918[edit]

Elections in the 1880s[edit]

General election 1885: Arfon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Rathbone 4,562 61.6 N/A
Conservative Henry Platt 2,838 38.4 N/A
Majority 1,724 23.2 N/A
Turnout 7,400 81.0 N/A
Registered electors 9,136
Liberal win (new seat)
General election 1886: Arfon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Rathbone 4,072 58.0 -3.6
Conservative Henry Platt 2,950 42.0 +3.6
Majority 1,122 16.0 -7.2
Turnout 7,022 76.9 -4.1
Registered electors 9,136
Liberal hold Swing -3.6

Elections in the 1890s[edit]

General election 1892: Arfon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Rathbone Unopposed
Registered electors
Liberal hold
General election 1895: Arfon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Jones 4,488 61.1 N/A
Conservative Alfred William Hughes 2,860 38.9 N/A
Majority 1,628 22.2 N/A
Turnout 7,348 83.3 N/A
Registered electors 8,821
Liberal hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1900s[edit]

General election 1900: Arfon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Jones Unopposed
Registered electors
Liberal hold
William Jones
General election 1906: Arfon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Jones 5,945 70.1 N/A
Conservative Arthur E. Hughes 2,533 29.9 N/A
Majority 3,412 40.2 N/A
Turnout 8,478 85.2 N/A
Registered electors 9,948
Liberal hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1910s[edit]

General election January 1910: Arfon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Jones 6,223 70.3 +0.2
Conservative Arthur E. Hughes 2,629 29.7 -0.2
Majority 3,594 40.6 +0.4
Turnout 8,852 87.2 +2.0
Registered electors 10,153
Liberal hold Swing +0.2
General election December 1910: Arfon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Jones Unopposed
Registered electors 10,153
Liberal hold
1911 Arfon by-election[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Jones Unopposed
Registered electors
Liberal hold
1915 Arfon by-election[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Caradoc Rees Unopposed
Registered electors
Liberal hold

Elections in the 21st century[edit]

Elections in the 2010s[edit]

General election 2010: Arfon[9][10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Plaid Cymru Hywel Williams* 9,383 36.0 N/A
Labour Alun Pugh 7,928 30.4 N/A
Conservative Robin Millar 4,416 16.9 N/A
Liberal Democrats Sarah Green 3,666 14.1 N/A
UKIP Elwyn Williams 685 2.6 N/A
Majority 1,455 5.6 N/A
Turnout 26,078 63.3 N/A
Registered electors 41,198
Plaid Cymru win (new seat)

*Served as MP for the predecessor seat of Caernarfon in the 2001-2010 Parliament

General election 2015: Arfon[11][12][13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Plaid Cymru Hywel Williams 11,790 43.9 +7.9
Labour Alun Pugh 8,122 30.3 -0.1
Conservative Anwen Barry[14] 3,521 13.1 -3.8
UKIP Simon Wall 2,277 8.5 +5.9
Liberal Democrats Mohammed Shultan 718 2.7 -11.4
Socialist Labour Kathrine Jones 409 1.5 N/A
Majority 3,668 13.6 +8.0
Turnout 26,837 66.3 +3.0
Registered electors 40,492
Plaid Cymru hold Swing +4.0
General election 2017: Arfon[15][16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Plaid Cymru Hywel Williams 11,519 40.8 -3.1
Labour Mary Clarke 11,427 40.5 +10.2
Conservative Philippa Parry 4,614 16.4 +3.3
Liberal Democrats Calum Davies 648 2.3 -0.4
Majority 92 0.3 -13.3
Turnout 28,208 68.2 +1.9
Registered electors 41,367
Plaid Cymru hold Swing -6.7
General election 2019: Arfon[17][18]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Plaid Cymru Hywel Williams 13,134 45.2 +4.4
Labour Steffie Williams Roberts 10,353 35.6 −4.9
Conservative Gonul Daniels 4,428 15.2 −1.2
Brexit Party Gary Gribben 1,159 4.0 N/A
Majority 2,781 9.6 +9.3
Turnout 29,074 68.9 +0.7
Registered electors 42,215
Plaid Cymru hold Swing +4.6

See also[edit]


  1. ^ As with all constituencies, the constituency elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election at least every five years.


  1. ^ "Electoral rolls by Welsh Assembly constituency areas and electoral regions". 2019 Electorate Figures. StatsWales. 1 December 2018. Archived from the original on 8 October 2019. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Arfon' UK Parliament, 6 May 2010 -". ElectionWeb Project. Cognitive Computing Limited. Archived from the original on 12 April 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  3. ^ Information in the paragraph is taken in part from F.W.S Craig's British Parliamentary Election Results 1885-1918 (Macmillan, 1974).
  4. ^ "Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams to stand down at next general election". The Bangor Aye. 11 November 2022. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  5. ^ 2023 Review of Parliamentary Constituencies - The 2023 Review of Parliamentary Constituencies in Wales (PDF). Boundary Commission for Wales. 28 June 2023.
  6. ^ "Caernarfon Herald". Caernarfon Herald. Archived from the original on 13 April 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  7. ^ a b Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "A" (part 2)
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Craig, F. W. S. (1974). British parliamentary election results 1885-1918 (1 ed.). London and Basingstoke: The Macmillan Press Ltd. ISBN 9780333169032. Page 469
  9. ^ "Election Data 2010". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  10. ^ "BBC News - Election 2010 - Constituency - Arfon". Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Election Data 2015". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  12. ^ "Gwynedd Council results". Parliamentary Election results – 7 May 2015. Gwynedd Council. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  13. ^ "Arfon Parliamentary constituency". Election 2015. BBC News. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Anwen Barry". Archived from the original on 19 January 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  15. ^ Bloom, Dan (7 June 2017). "Here is every single 2017 general election candidate in a plain text list". Daily Mirror. Trinity Mirror.
  16. ^ "Arfon parliamentary constituency - Election 2017". BBC News. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  17. ^ "Parliamentary Elections" (PDF). Gwynedd Council. Gwynedd Council. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  18. ^ "Arfon parliamentary constituency - Election 2019". BBC News. Retrieved 17 December 2019.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Boundaries of Parliamentary Constituencies 1885-1972, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (Political Reference Publications 1972)