Site of Colwyn Bay Hotel
Site of Colwyn Bay Hotel, Marine Road
The present Princess Court is built on the site the Colwyn Bay Hotel, which housed the headquarters of the Ministry of Food in the 1940s.
The Colwyn Bay Hotel (pictured right) was built in 1873 and was designed by John Douglas (1830-1911), who also designed St Paul's Church and other churches in the area. The hotel was demolished in 1974-5 to make way for the present building.
During the Second World War, Lord Woolton, the Minister of Food, had his office here. Ministry departments housed here included the Establishment Department, where the staff were hired for all the other departments, the Cocoa & Chocolate Wartime Association Department and the Communications Division. All the coded messages from all British Embassies throughout the world were sent here and distributed by messengers on bicycles to the other hotels where other Ministry divisions were housed. There was no central heating and the offices were warmed by open fires which had previously been used to warm the hotel bedrooms.
Experiments were carried out in the hotel kitchens to find ways of making palatable food that was often discarded. Some of the less disastrous results were featured in a Ministry booklet, Food Facts for the Kitchen Front. Among them was brains on toast, using parsley sauce to disguise the pieces of brain.
The Cocoa & Chocolate division was run from the hotel by the deputy chairman of confectioner Rowntrees. One of its products was the Personal Points Scheme, authorised by prime minister Winston Churchill in 1942 to ensure that everyone had an equal share of treats, including people who were too busy working in munitions factories and other vital jobs to devote time to chasing after sweets.
The Ministry continued to use the hotel building until 1953, after which everyone returned to Guildford, Surrey, from where they had come. In 2017 a granite “postcard” celebrating the Ministry’s period in the town was installed on Colwyn Bay prom.
With thanks to Graham Roberts, of Colwyn Bay Civic Society. His book ‘Colwyn Bay at War, from Old Photographs’, is published by Amberley Publishing.
Postcode: LL29 8PT View Location Map
FOOTNOTES: Recollections of the Colwyn Bay Hotel
David Rogers Jones recalls: “I have fond memories of the Colwyn Bay Hotel. I used to take part in rallies. We used to start at about 10pm, drive through the night and we would end up having breakfast and the results. Very often the Colwyn Bay Hotel was where they had the breakfast and presentation. My partner and I were Welsh rally champions in 1967.”