The Wales Coast Path and A4080 road cross the river Cefni here on a low embankment and bridge known as Cob Malltraeth. It was authorised by Parliament in 1790. The original lasted only a few years before a storm tide broke it in two places.
The Cob was rebuilt in 1812 and was a key element of the infrastructure which drained the Cefni saltmarsh. Its local importance is reflected in the words of the folk song Cob Malltraeth, in which the singer imagines the consequences should the Cob break – click here to hear and read about the song.
As you stand on the Cob, notice the contrast between the views downstream and upstream, where the river is flanked by straight bunds of rock and earth. Before the area was drained, the river Cefni flowed slowly through an expanse of mud and sand.
The village of Malltraeth takes its name from the expanse of sand which used to exist here, some of which survives downstream of the Cob. Malltraeth means “unwholesome strand” and is recorded from at least 1304. The extent of the previous strand or beach is reflected in the names Trefdraeth (“strand farm”) and Glantraeth (“strand edge”), north of Malltraeth and now far from the shore.
To hear how to pronounce Malltraeth, press play: or, Download mp3 (13KB)
The village was known as Rhyd y Maen Du (“Ford of the black stone”) in the 18th century, when several fords provided rudimentary routes across the river. Later the village gained the name Yard Malltraeth, often known as Yr Iard ("The Yard"). Materials, equipment and many men were based there for c.18 months while the Cob was rebuilt.
Later still, the village hosted a small shipbuilders’ yard during its brief association with the coal trade. In the 19th century, coal was mined on the drained marshland between Malltraeth and Gaerwen. Some of the coal came to the village for onward transport by sea, before the railway line through Gaerwen opened in 1848. A steam engine was installed at the Berw colliery in 1815. All of the colliery’s remaining equipment was sold in 1875.
Postcode: LL62 5AS Map
With thanks to Prof Hywel Wyn Owen, of the Welsh Place-Name Society