Former railway inspector’s house, Dduallt

Former railway inspector’s house, Dduallt

In the 1860s the Ffestiniog Railway bought land from Dduallt farm and built a house for the railway inspector inspector near Coed y Bleiddiau (“Forest of the Wolves”). If you’re reading this after scanning the QR codes, the house is across the railway track from you – please view it from this side and don’t attempt to cross.

The inspector, Robert Hovendon, lived here for many years. Locals called the house Tŷ Hovendon ( = house). When the house was no longer needed for a railway inspector, it was rented to a succession of interesting tenants. For 10 years from 1927 it was the holiday home of English composer Sir Granville Bantock, conductor of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Jean Sibelius dedicated his Third Symphony to Sir Granville.

For a decade from 1937 the tenant was St John “Abdullah” Philby, father of Kim Philby the spy. It’s alleged that William Joyce and his wife were guests at the house when the Second World War was declared and that they travelled from here via London to Germany, where he broadcast Nazi propaganda and misinformation. He became known in Britain as Lord Haw-Haw, and was hanged for treason after the war. Transcripts of his broadcasts contain references to the Vale of Ffestiniog.

For over 50 years, until 2006, it was home to Bob and Babs Johnson; Bob was local and Babs from London. One of their occupations was collecting sphagnum moss off the mountain and supplying it to orchid growers in South-east England. Well into their 80s, they could be seen carrying their shopping the 600 metres from the nearest car parking. The postman was kept fit delivering mail to this secluded hideaway!

For several years the house was empty but in 2013 plans were drawn up to renovate it as an upmarket country retreat. The house is still owned by the Ffestiniog Railway.

With thanks to Huw Jenkins, of the Snowdonia Society

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