High Street and Pensarn Road, Bala

button-theme-bala-700 button-theme-slaves

This straight and wide High Street was unusual in medieval Wales, but Bala didn’t evolve like most Welsh settlements. It was created from new for c.50 English settlers in the 14th century. Its charter was issued in 1311 and renewed in 1324. Beaumaris, on Anglesey, has a similar history and main street.

Photo of Bala High Street c.1895Plas Coch, Plas yn Dre and Henblas on High Street were originally the town houses of local gentry, who were obliged to live in town on the occasion of any local government meeting or court hearing. The photo of High Street c.1895 is shown here courtesy of Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – the National Library of Wales. It conveys the breadth of the street.

After the junction with Aran Street and Arenig Street, High Street continues westwards as Pensarn Road. Here you’ll find the building which houses the Victoria Hall or Neuadd Buddug. This was also Bala’s cinema. The hall was built and named after the royal visit by Queen Victoria in 1889.

Portrait of Hallie Quinn BrownIn 1899 the Afro-American orator Hallie Quinn Brown (1845-1949) gave “dramatic and humorous recital” at the Victoria Hall. She’s pictured here courtesy of the Library of Congress. Her parents were born as slaves following liaisons between plantation owners (one of them a Scottish woman) and their slaves. Both parents were freed and helped fugitive slaves reach freedom before the USA abolished slavery in 1865. Hallie was brought up in the USA and Canada, gained a science degree and taught at plantations, evening classes and universities. She campaigned for women’s suffrage, temperance and black people’s rights.

East of the hall is the whitewashed tollgate cottage, where a gate once stood across the turnpike road leading to Llanycil and Llanuwchllyn.

Postcode: LL23 7AE    View Location Map

button-tour-bala-700 previous page in tournext page in tour