Former Customs House

button-theme-crimebutton link to welsh transaltionlink_to_french_translationFormer Customs House, Conwy Quay

This building, beside Conwy’s medieval town wall, provides a good view over Conwy harbour from the upstairs bay window (which was added to the building sometime between 1865 and 1906). A 1981 survey by Cadw, the official Welsh heritage body, suggested it dates from the 19th century. Directories published in the 1870s refer to it as an “antique building”.

The building was Conwy’s Customs House in the 19th century. Conwy had long been a busy port, importing timber and other products. Salt and slate were shipped out. Customs officers kept watch to ensure the correct duties were paid on imports.

In 1893 Customs officer Stephen Murphy apprehended Evan Evans, Conwy’s harbour master, who had just left a steamer at the quay clutching a box of tobacco. The duty-free tobacco was sealed for the use of the ship’s crew only. Mr Evans was arrested on a charge which practically amounted to “smuggling”, according to the prosecution. In court he said the tobacco was a gift from the ship’s captain and he had no idea he was committing an offence. He was fined 20 shillings and had to pay treble the tobacco’s value and some of the legal costs. He had earlier lost his son Robert in the “Conwy boating disaster” of 1890, as you can read on our page about the family grave.

With the spread of the railways, coupled with the growth of large ports, activity on Conwy quay become increasingly dominated by fishing and the Customs presence was no longer needed.

In the early 20th century the Ministry of Labour Employment Exchange was located here. After the Second World War, the building became home to Conwy’s harbour master and his staff. From 1948 to 1954, and again in 1963 and 1964, the First Conway Scout Group used the ground floor of the former Customs House for their meetings.

With thanks to Ray Castle

Postcode: LL32 8BB    View Location Map

FOOTNOTES: Previous occupants of the building

1823 The Comptroller was W Roberts

1825 Thomas Roberts, Collector at the Customs House died on 25 November

1846 Mr Robert Williams was Collector at the Customs House

1835 Comptroller of Customs was John Jones, of Castle Street

Locations for all above details are not specified in contemporary sources. Some directories list the Customs House as being in Castle Street.

1875  A directory refers to an “antique building” building on the quay which is the Custom House and Trinity stores

1878 Bailiff John Davies is identified at Custom House, The Quay

1895 A directory lists S Murphy, as “Officer, Customs House”

1911 John Alfd Williams is preventative officer in charge, Customs and Excise Office, Lower Gate Street, an address which suggests the office had moved

1922-26 Directories identify Thos Abram as occupant of the Old Customs House

1929-39 Directories say the Old Customs Office houses the Ministry of Labour Employment Exchange

1948-54 and 1963-64 Headquarters of 1st Conway Scout Group

1962  Captain JG West is Harbour master at The Old Customs House, The Quay

1969  Captain T H Whyatt is Harbour master at The Old Customs House, The Quay

1988  The Harbour master is Mr Halliday

1991 Tony Mead, a former naval officer, is appointed Harbour master

2011  Tony Mead retires as Harbour master