Ffynnon y Wrach, Holyhead

Part Tirwedd Holy IslandLink to Welsh translation


The domed hut by the road here was built to protect a well which provided clean drinking water for Holyhead’s residents. The structure is listed because of its “highly unusual design and construction”.

The growth of the port and town after construction of Thomas Telford’s London to Holyhead coach road, followed by the Chester & Holyhead Railway, overwhelmed the established system for water supply and sanitation. This was bad for public health. In October to December 1849, for example, 30 people in the Holyhead area died from cholera, a water-borne disease.

In 1858 two wells in fields near the town were filled in and replaced with “new and more convenient wells”, which were “plentifully supplied with the same water” but positioned alongside roads.

In the 1860s the new Holyhead Water Works Company installed water pipes to the town. The domed hut was probably created as part of that work. The company gave notice in 1865 that it had applied to Parliament for the right to build reservoirs and to take water from “a certain spring adjoining certain fields near the road from Holyhead to South Stack lighthouse” – an apparent reference to Ffynnon y Wrach.

In 1875 a local businessman announced that he had started bottling water from “the celebrated spring called Ffynnon y Wrach, at the foot of Holyhead mountain”.

The well’s name appears to mean ‘The Witch’s Well’ but y wrach may have an alternative origin, such as crach, meaning ‘rough’ (which could refer to the well being near an area of rough or rocky ground).

Conservation work on the well hut was undertaken in 2023 by the Ynys Cybi Landscape Partnership.

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