Village History

Brief History

Major changes came in the 1800's as a result of the construction of Thomas Telford's new road (1820s) and Robert Stevenson's Britannia railway bridge (1850), which led to the development of a new part of the village (Pentre Isaf, Lower Village) around the railway station. This attracted craftsmen, traders and shopkeepers and Llanfairpwll became an important commercial centre, serving the surrounding agricultural areas of Llanedwen and Penmynydd.

Early History

The village development saw the establishment of a Post Office, two schools, half a dozen pubs, a brewery, a hotel and (by 1889) 12 grocers. The village by then had a population of 961. In 1894 a livestock market emerged, and a slate factory opened in the nearby harbour of Pwllfanogl. In the 1960s and 1970s the "new" village began to appear. There was extensive building on various sites, and the population increased from 1,172 in 1961 to 3,101 in 2011. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch still retains its village atmosphere, even though there are more people living there than in many other towns in Wales.

The Toll House

This octagonal building is one of three tollhouses still intact along the A5 between Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch and Holyhead. On the outside of the building is the original table of tolls, which were last charged in 1895, by which time this was the last surviving public toll road in Britain. You would have paid a toll of 1d (one old penny) for a horse not drawing a carriage, wagon or cart, and the old toll charges can still be seen written on the side of the building:

For every Horse, Mule or other Cattle, drawing any Coach or other Carriages, with springs, the sum of 4d.
For every Horse, Mule or other Beast or Cattle, drawing any Waggon, Cart, or other such Carriage, not employed solely in carrying or going empty to fetch Lime for manure the sum of 3d.
For every Horse, Mule or other Beast or Cattle drawing any Waggon, Cart, or other such Carriage, employed solely in carrying or going empty to fetch Lime for manure the sum of 1½d.
For every Horse, Mule or Ass laden or unladen, and not drawing, the sum of 1d.
For every Drove of Oxen, Cows or other neat Cattle per score, the sum of 10d.
For every Drove of Calves, Sheep, Lambs or pigs per score, the sum of 5d.
For every Horse, Mule or other Beast drawing any Waggon or Cart the Wheels being less that 3 inches breadth or having Wheels with Tires fastened with Nails projecting and not countersunk to pay double Toll.
A Ticket taken here clears Carnedd Du Bar.

(image courtesy John Warren)

St. Mary's Church

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is named after St. Mary's Church. (The Welsh name for the church is 'Eglwys y Santes Fair'). It was rebuilt in 1853, there being an earlier (probably 7th century) church on the site dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The original baptismal font from the earlier church is still in use.

The Britannia Memorial

The Britannia Memorial was erected after the completion of the Britannia Bridge in 1850, in memory of 16 men who died from injuries during the construction of the bridge. Also included on the memorial are the names of others who lost their lives on the bridge, including men working on the reconstruction of the bridge following the 1970 fire, and a 5 year old girl, Emma Greaves, who died of whooping cough.
The memorial is situated in the grounds of St. Mary's church in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. It was restored in 2008 by the Railway Heritage Trust with improved access.

First Women's Institute in Britain

In 1915 the Women's Institute (WI) was introduced to Britain by Mrs Alfred Watt from Canada, with the very first meeting in the corrugated hall (attached to the Toll House) at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Throughout the next hundred years the hall continued to be used for regular WI meetings. It was renovated in around 2012 for conversion to a Women's Institute museum.

The Railway Station

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch railway station was first opened in 1848, as the starting point of a train line across Anglesey to Holyhead (this was a main route to Ireland). This was before the opening of the Britannia Bridge in 1850, which provided a rail link to the mainland, and thus also to the south of England.
The original station was reconstructed after it suffered a catastrophic fire on 13 November 1865. After fire also destroyed the Brittania Bridge in 1970, it was again closed, but reopened as the terminus for trains to and from Holyhead, with a single wooden platform.
The rail line to Holyhead is important because it is the route of the Irish Mail train from London.
The railway station now attracts thousands of tourists annually - mainly due to the infamous village name.

Britannia Bridge on Fire

On 25th May 1970, a huge fire caused extensive damage to the Britannia tubular railway Bridge, which caused irrepairable damage. The bridge was threfore rebuilt with an improved specification, reusing the original piers, but adding new arches to support two decks - a lower rail bridge and a road on the top. The bridge was rebuilt in phases, initially reopening in 1972 as a single-tier steel truss arch bridge carrying only rail traffic. Over the next eight years more improvements were completed, allowing for more trains to run. The top tier for road transport was opened in 1980.

Britannia Bridge Today

This is the Brittania Bridge today. The road platform can be seen above the railway bridge.

(image courtesy John Warren)

Britannia Bridge - Hidden Stone Lions

There are four huge 8-tonne stone lions - two at each end of the Britannia Bridge, one on each side of the track. These were designed by John Thomas and are sculpted from Anglesey limestone (Penmon).
They were installed when the bridge was originally opened in 1850.
They are each 7.6 metres long, 3.7 metres high and 2.75 metres wide, with paws of over 0.7 metres across.
The lions are not visible from the road bridge - but can be seen from the railway which runs underneath the road platform. There have been proposals to raise these to the road level, but as yet this has not happened.