Betws-y-coed and Llanrwst buildings

Betws-y-coed and Llanrwst buildings

The distinctive Victorian architecture of Betws-y-coed has delighted many generations of visitors to this town, which lies between the Conwy and Llugwy rivers. Most of the principal buildings line the main road engineered by Thomas Telford in the 1820s, and have the steep wooded valley side as backdrop. Some buildings provide glimpses into earlier periods in local history, including the 14th century St Michael’s Church (pictured below) and the former quarrymen’s cottages near Pont-y-Pair.

The coach road and later the railway made Betws-y-coed a honeypot for tourists. St Mary's Church was built to cope with growing numbers of worshippers, and the Royal Oak Hotel was enlarged in the 1860s. This hotel was the focal point of the Betws-y-coed Artists' Colony, which was founded in 1844 and continued until 1914.

The market town of Llanrwst, just 8km north, has a more varied architectural legacy. This encompasses a wealth of history including the era of horse-drawn carriages and a variety of local trades including clockmaking, tanning and harp making. Poor people - one of whom thought he was Winston Churchill - lived in the almshouses from 1610 to 1976. The former Union Tavern dates from c.1598 and in 2003 an ancient well was discovered there.

The Eagles Hotel was earmarked for use by MI5 double agents during the Second World War. There's also a wartime link to the long-established bakery now known as Scilicorn's Bakery. The baker and his wife lost three of their four sons in the First World War.