Caerberllan cottages, Bethesda

button_lang_welshCae’r Berllan cottages, Bethesda

bethesda_view_with_caerberllanIn 1841 there were 14 cottages in this row and by 1901 there were 16. In 1901 every cottage had three rooms, except No.1 which had four! The cottages’ façade has hardly changed since the 19th century.

Cae’r Berllan is in the centre of the old photo (from the early 20th century), with Penrhyn slate quarry behind. Cae’r Berllan means “field of the orchard”, suggesting there was once an orchard nearby.

The quarry strike of 1900-1903 affected the lives of nearly everyone who lived in the cottages. Protests occurred at Pont Twr (across the road) and demonstrations marched past the row on their way into town.

Many workers and their families left Bethesda during the strike. In 1902 RH Thomas of Cae’r Berllan (probably no.4) moved to South Africa with his son. A deacon at Bethesda Congregational chapel, he had organised concerts by the Penrhyn Ladies Choir and latterly was superintendent at Pantdreinog co-operative quarry. In 1903 his daughter and other son joined him in South Africa, where he was “doing well managing a stone quarry”.

In 1864, drunken stonemason Robert Hughes insulted women “all along the streets in Bethesda” before entering every house in Cae’r Berllan and ejecting the occupants! Thinking he was a “maniac”, the residents “allowed him full possession”. He was arrested and fined.

In 1888 Ellen Williams of Cae’r Berllan (probably no.8) sued her cousin Robert H Roberts of Mynydd Llandegai for £300 for breach of promise. She said he’d promised to marry her in 1883 but later married someone else. Robert, in poor health, said he had promised to marry her on condition his parents lived with them. But Ellen, who had spent years nursing her sick mother, did not want to live with “two old people on the mountain”. The jury found in Ellen’s favour but awarded her only £25 damages and costs.

Quarryman Thomas John Williams once lived at 2 Cae’r Berllan with his second wife Esther. His son Johnnie died in France while serving with the Middlesex Regiment in the First World War – see our page about Bethesda war memorial for more about the family.

With thanks to Hazel Pierce of The History House

Postcode: LL57 3PS    View Location Map

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