The Llangollen Vaults, Bethesda

The Llangollen Vaults, Bethesda

Before the age of the motor car, the licensee here had a thirst for speed on the road which led ultimately to his death.

Bethesda’s economy was boosted in the 19th century with the opening of Thomas Telford’s pioneering London to Holyhead road (now the A5), which forms Bethesda High Street. The road was engineered to ensure horses never had steep gradients to climb or descend, despite passing through mountainous terrain. This building is named after the picturesque town of Llangollen, which Telford’s road had directly connected to Bethesda.

Bethesda-born David Williams was tenant of the Llangollen Vaults (or Llangollen Hotel) for over 20 years. He lived here with his large family and servants numbering, at one time, 13 people!

He often found himself in court in his capacity as a “car proprietor” (provider of horse-drawn transport). He was in trouble for obstructing the High Street In 1880, and in 1887 received a 20s fine for being drunk in charge of a horse and “car”.

In April 1880, a police constable spotted him and fellow driver John Jones racing their “cars” towards Bethesda with passengers on board. David was fined after the constable testified that he was drunk and the horses were exhausted.

In September 1901, David was hired by Mr Richards, Lord Penrhyn’s forester, for an excursion around Snowdonia. Mr Richards’ two daughters and a Miss Ellen Jones travelled in David’s cart until they were near the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, where they transferred to Mr Richards’ cart because David was “driving too fast”. David continued alone, but shortly afterwards a driverless cart was seen moving quickly down the road, the horse appearing frightened.

David’s body was discovered in the road. The inquest concluded that he was accidentally thrown from his cart and fractured his skull on the road, dying immediately. He was buried in Glanogwen Churchyard. His daughter and son-in-law took over the tenancy of the Llangollen.

With thanks to Dr Hazel Pierce, of The History House

Postcode: LL57 3AN    View Location Map