Bethesda, Gwynedd

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Bethesda
The former Capel Bethesda from Penybryn Road - geograph.org.uk - 432313.jpg
The former Capel Bethesda from Penybryn Road.
Bethesda is located in Gwynedd
Bethesda
Bethesda
Bethesda shown within Gwynedd
Population4,735 (2011)[1]
OS grid referenceSH624667
Community
  • Bethesda
Principal area
Ceremonial county
CountryWales
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBANGOR
Postcode districtLL57
Dialling code01248
PoliceNorth Wales
FireNorth Wales
AmbulanceWelsh
EU ParliamentWales
UK Parliament
Welsh Assembly
List of places
UK
Wales
Gwynedd
53°10′44″N 4°03′36″W / 53.179°N 4.060°W / 53.179; -4.060Coordinates: 53°10′44″N 4°03′36″W / 53.179°N 4.060°W / 53.179; -4.060

Bethesda is a town and community on the River Ogwen and the A5 road on the edge of Snowdonia, in Gwynedd, north-west Wales, colloquially called Pesda by the locals[citation needed]. It is the 5th largest Community in Gwynedd.

History[edit]

In 1823, the Bethesda Chapel was built and the town subsequently grew around it. The chapel was rebuilt in 1840 and has now been converted into flats and is known as Arafa Don.[citation needed]

The town grew around the slate quarrying industries; the largest of the local quarries is the Penrhyn Quarry. At its peak, the town exported purple slate all over the world. Penrhyn Quarry suffered a three-year strike led by the North Wales Quarrymen's Union between 1900 and 1903. This led to the creation of the nearby village of Tregarth, built by the quarry owners, which housed the families of those workers who had not struck.

The A5 road runs through Bethesda and marked the border between Lord Penrhyn's land, and the freehold land. Most of the town is to the east and north east of the road, with housing packed onto the hillside in irregular rows, built on the commons. On the current high street, all the public houses are found on the north side of the road.

Railways[edit]

The narrow gauge Penrhyn Quarry Railway opened in 1801 to serve Penrhyn Quarry. It connected the quarry with Port Penrhyn on the coast and operated until 1962. In 1884, a branch of the London and North Western Railway's network from Bangor was opened. The line closed to passengers in 1951 and to freight in 1963.

The trackbed of the Penrhyn Quarry Railway towards Porth Penrhyn is taken over by the Lôn Las Ogwen cycle path.

Modern Bethesda[edit]

The peak population of Bethesda was 10,000;[when?] it is currently around 4,327 people (2001 census). Current opportunities for employment in the town are limited: there are a few manufacturing businesses; most businesses are in the low-paid service sector and hospitality industry. For employment with higher earning potential, residents tend to commute to towns along the North Wales coast. Bangor is the most popular destination, but some will commute daily as far as Cheshire.[citation needed]

Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen ("Ogwen Valley School") is a bilingual comprehensive school, with 374 pupils, established in 1951.

Zip World Velocity in Penrhyn Quarry is the longest zipline in Europe, at just over 1,600 metres (0.99 mi) long, and brings the town hundreds of visitors.[2]

Architecture[edit]

The architecture and layout of the town is largely utilitarian. Most of the buildings are constructed of stone with slate roofs. Some are constructed wholly of slate blocks, although such buildings tend to suffer from damp and structural slippage because the very flat and smooth surfaces of slate do not bind well to mortar.

The town has 40 Grade II listed buildings, including three pubs, in addition to the substantial and imposing Grade I listed Nonconformist Jerusalem Chapel[3]

The upper parts of Carneddi, Cilfodan and Tan y Foel owe more to stone quarrying on the nearby hills rather than slate quarrying that supported the lower end of the town. At the eastern limits, the town is bounded by the rising land of the Carneddau mountains which form some of the more remote landscapes of Snowdonia. Much of Bethesda once consisted of discrete villages such as Gerlan, Rachub, Tregarth, Llanllechid and Braichmelyn; their names are retained as districts of the town.

Religion[edit]

Bethesda is noted for both the number of chapels (mostly dating from the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival) in the town.[citation needed] The town was named after the Bethesda Chapel, which was recently converted into residential flats.

Commerce and industry[edit]

Llanllechid, on the outskirts of Bethesda, is the home of the Popty Bakery, the origins of which date back to the bakery opened by O. J. Williams in the early 1900s. The product range focuses mainly on traditional Welsh cakes and Bara Brith and these lines are retailed throughout Wales and parts of England through outlets including Aldi, Asda, Co-Op, Morrisons and Tesco.[4]

Public houses[edit]

There are ten pubs in the Bethesda area, not including Tregarth. The Douglas Arms, on the High Street, was named after the family which owned the nearby Penrhyn Quarry. Other pubs include the Bull, The Kings Head, Y Sior ("The George"), The Victoria Arms, and the Llangollen.

The village has its own micro brewery known as Cwrw Ogwen. It currentlyTemplate:Whne manufactures one beer named Cwrw Caradog, named after the writer Caradog Prichard.

Language and culture[edit]

The dominant language of the town is Welsh, and can be seen written and heard spoken in most settings. According to the United Kingdom Census 2001, 77.0% of the residents are Welsh-speaking, higher than the average for both Gwynedd and Wales as a whole.

The S4C series Amdani! (a play on words that can mean "go for it!" and "about her") was based on a fictitious women's rugby team in Bethesda, and many of the location shots were filmed in the area. The series was based on the novel of the same name, by Bethan Gwanas, who lived in the town.

In June 2012 Tabernacl (Bethesda) Cyf., a non-profit co-operative based in the town, was awarded a grant of around £1 million to renovate Neuadd Ogwen, a performance venue on the High Street. It was due to reopen as a community arts centre in June 2013.

In the 1970s and 1980s Bethesda developed a reputation as a hub of musical creativity. Jam sessions and small home studios abounded alongside a burgeoning pub rock scene. As well as the now well-established 'Pesda Roc' festival, Bethesda has nurtured the Welsh language bands Maffia Mr Huws and experimentalists Y Jeycsyn Ffeif. In more recent years it continues to spring up bands from the local community such as Radio Rhydd.

Gallery[edit]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Community population 2011". Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  2. ^ "The 100 MPH slide; Riding Europe's Longest Zipline". Retrieved 3 Jul 2016.
  3. ^ Gwynedd Listed Building Register Archived 8 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Popty Bakery, About". caegroes.co.uk. Retrieved 18 September 2016.

External links[edit]