Cobden's Hotel, Capel Curig

Link to French translationCobden's Hotel, Capel Curig

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This hotel was known as Tan y Bwlch before the lease was taken over in 1890 by Frank Cobden, one of the most celebrated cricketers of his age. The photo shows him (centre) outside the hotel.

Tan y Bwlch means “under the pass”. The hotel is in a gorge where the Llugwy river passes the foot of Moel Siabod. Thomas Telford had to build his coach road (today’s A5) on a ledge well above the river. The hotel was built alongside the road soon afterwards.

Today Cobden’s is home to more than 1,000 Pipistrelle bats, best seen as they emerge from the eaves at dusk in summer. Measuring only 4cm from head to toe, this is Britain’s smallest type of bat.

Frank Carroll Cobden (1849-1932) was born in Lambley, Nottinghamshire. In June 1870, he took a hat-trick (three wickets in successive balls) during the final over of the annual Varsity match to clinch victory for Cambridge University by just two runs. With Oxford chasing 179 to win, the game went on past 7pm on the final day with both sides still in the hunt. Frank, bowling at great speed from the Nursery End, settled the contest with the second, third and fourth deliveries of what proved to be the final over, having Sam Bourne caught at mid-off before clean bowling Will Stewart and Tom Belcher. The match ball was displayed in the hotel.

He had been educated at Harrow and other private schools. He lived and played cricket in Powys before moving to Capel Curig, where he lived half his life.

Frank was declared bankrupt in 1900. He claimed to have spent £500 rearing pheasants and improving facilities for shooting guests who, in the event, stayed away because of the war in South Africa. The hotel was sold in 1907 and the license transferred from Frank Cobden. He died in Capel Curig aged 83. His grave is in St Julitta’s Churchyard. See the footnotes for local recollections.

There have been many tales of ghosts in Cobden’s Hotel. Some people claim to have seen the ghost of Miss Cobden, Frank Cobden’s spinster sister, dressed in green.

With thanks to Harvey Lloyd of the Friends of St Julitta's and to Andrew Hignell of Glamorgan County Cricket Club

Postcode: LL24 0EE    View Location Map

Other HAUNTED HiPoints in this region:
Anglesey Arms, Caernarfon – by the former “hanging tower”
Compton House, Conwy – psychics have warned against entering cellar room 

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FOOTNOTES: Recollections of Frank Cobden

Owen Wyn Owen of Haulfryn, Capel Curig, gave the following account at meeting of the Friends of St Julitta's Church in 2005.

“My introduction to this church [St Julitta's] was when I was a boy in Capel at Pont Cyfyng. I started school in the Spring of 1929. I would be about 3½. I walked from Pont Cyfyng to the school and back with somebody holding my hand. Now at that time there was a gentleman always sitting on the bank at the Ty’n y Coed, the same bank that’s there now, and the old gentleman was Frank Cobden.

"I was always puzzled why was Frank Cobden always there, when Cobden’s Hotel was further up the road. But I didn’t find out until five or 10 years ago when I had a visitor. It would appear that Frank Cobden lived at the Cobden’s Hotel with his children and Mrs Cobden and there was a bit of a bust up and they chucked him out - he went to live at the Ty’n y Coed. Three of the children stayed at the Cobden’s; that was Elwyn, Vivian and Miss Cobden and their mother.”