Bryn Rhedyn, Sychnant Pass Road, Conwy

This house once belonged to the inventor of the submarine periscope, and was later home to wartime evacuees. It’s now three private residences – please respect the residents’ privacy.

As a single residence, Bryn Rhedyn had seven bedrooms, three reception rooms, five acres of grounds, a tennis court and a chicken run. An early owner was Dr Thomas Rayner MD of Manchester who died in 1889 and left Bryn Rhedyn to his daughters.

In 1908 Bryn Rhedyn was bought by optical designer Sir Howard Grubb (1844-1931), who immediately applied for permission to run an electric cable from the nearby Oakwood Park Hotel to light his residence. His father Thomas had established the Dublin-based Grubb Telescope Company, making large telescopes and other instruments. Products of Howard Grubb’s company include telescopes at the Vienna Observatory, Armagh Observatory and Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

By 1902 he had invented a periscope which could be used safely on submarines. He supplied this device for about 95% of the Royal Navy’s submarines in the First World War, when his factory also produced telescopic gun-sights. In 1921 he invented an anti-dazzle road-vehicle headlight that didn’t temporarily blind other motorists or pedestrians.

He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1883 and of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1870, and knighted in 1887. He played an active role in Conwy society events, presenting prizes at district tennis tournaments. He was a patron of the Royal Cambrian Academy.

In 1918 John Robert Collie of Tal-y-cafn bought Bryn Rhedyn from Sir Howard and Lady Grubb. He was High Sheriff of Caernarvonshire, a partner in a Liverpool cotton firm and a charity benefactor. In September 1939 he offered Bryn Rhedyn to the local authority to house c.60 evacuees from Merseyside.

Later in the Second World War, more children arrived at Bryn Rhedyn from South Beacons, a house at the Morfa requisitioned for staff offices for the secret ‘Mulberry’ harbour project. JR Collie died in February 1940 but the evacuees remained until the end of the war.

With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front Museum, Llandudno

Postcode: LL32 8LQ    View Location Map