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Bala, Gwynedd

Coordinates: 52°54′40″N 3°35′46″W / 52.911°N 3.596°W / 52.911; -3.596
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bala High Street
Bala is located in Gwynedd
Location within Gwynedd
Population1,999 (2021)
OS grid referenceSH925359
• Cardiff142.3 miles
• London207 miles
  • Bala
Principal area
Preserved county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBALA
Postcode districtLL23
Dialling code01678
PoliceNorth Wales
FireNorth Wales
UK Parliament
Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament
List of places
52°54′40″N 3°35′46″W / 52.911°N 3.596°W / 52.911; -3.596

Bala (Welsh: Y Bala) is a town and community in Gwynedd, Wales. Formerly an urban district, Bala lies in the historic county of Merionethshire, at the north end of Bala Lake (Welsh: Llyn Tegid). According to the 2021 Census, Bala had a population of 1,999[1] and 72.5 per cent of the population could speak Welsh[2] with a decrease of 6% since 2011.[3]


The Welsh word bala refers to the outflow of a lake.[4]


Tomen y Bala
Neuadd y Cyfnod (English: Period Hall. Formerly the grammar school)

Tomen Y Bala (30 feet (9 m) high by 50 feet (15 m) diameter) is a tumulus or "moat-hill", formerly thought to mark the site of a Roman camp.

In the 18th century, the town was well known for the manufacture of flannel, stockings, gloves and hosiery.

The large stone-built theological college, Coleg y Bala, of the Calvinistic Methodists and the grammar school (now Ysgol y Berwyn), which was founded in 1712, are the chief features, together with the statue of the Rev. Thomas Charles (1755–1814), the theological writer, to whom was largely due the foundation of the British and Foreign Bible Society.[5] In 1800 a 15-year-old girl, Mary Jones, walked the 25 miles (40 km) from her home village Llanfihangel-y-Pennant to purchase a Welsh bible in Bala. The scarcity of the Bible, along with the determination of Mary to get one (she had saved for six years), was a major factor in the foundation of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804.

Betsi Cadwaladr, who worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea, and who gave her name to the Health Board, came from Bala. Other famous people from the Bala area include Michael D. Jones, Christopher Timothy, Owen Morgan Edwards, born in Llanuwchllyn, and T.E. Ellis, born in Cefnddwysarn.

Bala hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1967, 1997 and 2009. The 2009 Eisteddfod was notable because the chair was not awarded to any of the entrants as the standard was deemed to be too low.[6] Bala hosted the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yr Urdd Gobaith Cymru, National Eisteddfod for the Welsh League of Youth, in 2014. On 16 June 2016, Bala's name was changed to Bale temporarily in honour of Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale. This was only for the duration of UEFA Euro 2016.[7]


Bala, Ontario, Canada, was named after the town in 1868. They have become twin towns.



According to the United Kingdom Census 2021, 72.5 per cent of all usual residents aged 3+ in Bala can speak Welsh.[8]

The 2011 census noted 78.5 per cent of all usual residents aged 3 years and older in the town could speak Welsh. The Welsh-language skills of Bala residents were as follows in 2011 and 2021:

Welsh language skill[9][10] Number and % of persons aged 3+


Number and % of persons aged 3+




One or more Welsh language skills 1,607 (85.1%) 1,550 (79.6%) -5.5
Can understand spoken Welsh 1,472 (77.9%) 1,424 (73.2%) -4.7
Can speak, read or write Welsh 1,503 (79.6%)
Can speak Welsh 1,482 (78.5%) 1,410 (72.5%) -6.0
Can read Welsh 1,367 (72.4%) 1,294 (66.5%) -5.9
Can write Welsh 1,287 (68.1%) 1,256 (64.6%) -3.5
Can speak, read and write Welsh 1,271 (67.3%) 1,209 (62.1%) -5.2
Total aged 3+ 1,889 1,945


According to the 2011 Census, 70.5 per cent of the population noted that they had Welsh-only national identity, with 22.2 per cent noting that they had no Welsh national identity at all.[11] According to the 2021 Census, 64.8 per cent of the population noted that they had Welsh-only national identity.


Set within the Bala Fault, Bala Lake (Welsh: Llyn Tegid) is the largest natural lake in Wales at 3.7 miles (6.0 km) in length and 800 metres (870 yards) wide. At 35 metres (115 feet), its depths could hide the tower of St Giles Church in Wrexham and still have 1 metre (3.3 feet) of water above. The lake has occasionally been known to freeze over, most recently in the severe winters of 1947 and 1963. The rare Gwyniad fish—trapped in the lake at the end of the last ice age, some 10,000 years ago—is in danger because its natural home is increasingly unsuitable.[12] A member of the whitefish family, it is found only in the lake.

Cwm Hirnant, a valley running south from Bala, gives its name to the Hirnantian Age in the Ordovician Period of geological time.

The closest major urban areas to Bala are Wrexham at 30 miles (48 km), Chester at 40 miles (64 km), and Liverpool, 52 miles (84 km) to the northeast. Nearby villages include Llanfor, Llandderfel, Llanycil, Llangower, Llanuwchllyn, Rhyd-uchaf and Rhos-y-gwaliau.


As with the rest of the UK, Bala benefits from a maritime climate, with limited seasonal temperature ranges, and generally moderate rainfall throughout the year.

Climate data for Bala 163 metres (535'), 1971–2000
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 6.7
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 0.9
Source: YR.NO[13]
Climate data for Bala (163 metres; 535' elevation) 1981–2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 7.0
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 1.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 154.8
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 17.0 12.4 15.4 12.0 12.0 11.1 11.3 12.7 12.0 16.2 16.8 16.7 165.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 31.9 56.6 83.5 135.1 168.1 149.9 155.2 145.4 109.8 81.8 40.8 24.5 1,182.3
Source: metoffice.gov.uk[14]
Bala Mill Falls (lower Tryweryn)


Coleg y Bala
Bala Town Hall

The Afon Tryweryn, a river fed from Llyn Celyn which runs through Bala, is world-famous for its white water kayaking. International governing bodies, the International Canoe Federation, the European Canoe Union and the British Canoe Union all hold national and international events there. The Canolfan Tryweryn National Whitewater Centre has its home in Bala. There are at least three local campsites that cater for the influx of canoeists from many parts of the world.

An annual music festival known as 'Wa Bala' is also held in the town. The venue hosts local Welsh bands and is similar in format to Dolgellau's Sesiwn Fawr.

Nearby are the mountains Aran Fawddwy and Arenig Fawr.

Coleg y Bala is at the top of the hill on the road towards Llyn Celyn. The Victoria Hall is a small old cinema, that had been a community hall. There are several chapels: notably Capel Mawr and Capel Bach. The livestock market on Arenig Street is still going strong. Bro Eryl estate was built just after World War II. Mary Jones World, a heritage centre about Mary Jones and her Bible is located just outside the town in nearby Llanycil.

Bala Town Hall, which now operates as a restaurant, dates back to circa 1800.[15]


Railway stations in Bala
Bala (New)
Bala Lake Halt
Bala (Penybont)
Bala Junction

Bala has been served by various railway stations on the Great Western Railway:[16]

The Bala Lake Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid) runs for 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from Llanuwchllyn to the edge of the town, along a section of the former trackbed of the Great Western Railway's line between Ruabon and Barmouth. It terminates at Bala (Penybont) railway station, which opened in 1976 on the site of the former Lake Halt station. As of 2020, work is being undertaken to extend the line along the lake foreshore to a new station in the town centre.[17]

Bus services are provided by Lloyds Coaches, as part of the Welsh Government funded TrawsCymru network. Services operate westbound to Barmouth via Dolgellau, and eastbound to Wrexham via Corwen and Llangollen. Through ticketing is available for onward connections at Dolgellau, to Bangor, Machynlleth and Aberystwyth.

The town lies on the A494, a major trunk road that leads to Dolgellau, 18 miles to the southwest, and to Ruthin, Mold and Queensferry to the northwest. The A4212 starts in the town, and crosses the Migneint to Trawsfynydd. Heading southeast, the B4391 crosses the Berwyn range to the English border and the town of Oswestry.


Bala is home to Cymru Premier football club Bala Town F.C. who play at Maes Tegid. Bala's local rugby club is Bala RFC.

Notable people[edit]

Rev. Thomas Charles


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bala (Community, United Kingdom) - Population Statistics, Charts, Map and Location". www.citypopulation.de. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  2. ^ "Welsh Language Percentage of people aged three years or older able to speak Welsh by LSOA 2021". Welsh Government DataMapWales. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  3. ^ "Map newydd | MapDataCymru". mapdata.llyw.cymru. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  4. ^ Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru. Vol. a–baldog. University of Wales. 2006. p. 648. Archived from the original on 28 December 2005. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  5. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bala". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 231.
  6. ^ "No-one worthy of eisteddfod chair". BBC News. 7 August 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  7. ^ "Euro 2016: Bala changes name to Bale in honour of Wales star". The Guardian. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  8. ^ "Welsh Language Change in the percentage of people aged three years or older able to speak Welsh by LSOA 2011 to 2021 | DataMapWales". datamap.gov.wales. Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  9. ^ Sillitoe, Neighbourhood Statistics - Neil (14 April 2008). "Detect browser settings". www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 27 February 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  10. ^ Sillitoe, Neighbourhood Statistics - Neil (14 April 2008). "Detect browser settings". www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 27 February 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  11. ^ "Ward and area profiles". www.gwynedd.llyw.cymru. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  12. ^ Freyhof, J. & Kottelat, M. 2008. Coregonus pennantii. In: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.1. Downloaded on 17 April 2010.
  13. ^ "Climate Normals 1971–2000". YR.NO. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  14. ^ "Climate Normals 1981–2010". Met Office. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  15. ^ Cadw. "Town Hall (4916)". National Historic Assets of Wales. Retrieved 26 May 2022.
  16. ^ Butt, R. V. J. (October 1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-508-7. OCLC 60251199. OL 11956311M.
    Jowett, Alan (March 1989). Jowett's Railway Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland: From Pre-Grouping to the Present Day (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-086-0. OCLC 22311137.
    Jowett, Alan (2000). Jowett's Nationalised Railway Atlas (1st ed.). Penryn, Cornwall: Atlantic Transport Publishers. ISBN 978-0-906899-99-1. OCLC 228266687.
  17. ^ "Welcome". Bala Lake Railway Trust. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  18. ^ Jenkins, David Erwyd (1911). "Charles, Thomas" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 5 (11th ed.). pp. 15–16.

External links[edit]