Llys Llywelyn and Castlebank Hotel

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Llys Llywelyn and Castlebank Hotel, Mount Pleasant, Conwy

These buildings were originally villas, built in the mid 19th century. The architectural style, featuring stepped (or crow) gables, pays homage to Plas Mawr, the Tudor mansion within the walled town. The land belonging to the houses originally stretched down to the railway boundary.

Llys Llywelyn means Llywelyn’s court. The name reflects the connections between Conwy and Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Wales) in the 13th century.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries bought Castlebank in 1923 for £1,200. For 50 years Castlebank was the UK’s main centre for research on bivalve shellfish (e.g. oysters and mussels). The first head scientist there was Robert William Dodgson, who developed a new system of purifying mussels in seawater sterilised with bleach. His research led to the opening of the first mussel purification plant, commonly called “the Tanks”, at Benarth Road.

The Conwy mussel fishery had closed in 1912 following cases of food poisoning. Dr Dodgson was awarded the OBE for his scientific work on mussel cleansing, which led to improved commercial shellfish production and better public health. He was related to Lewis Carroll, whose classic book ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was inspired by a girl called Alice Liddell (who took her summer holidays in West Shore, Llandudno).

Castle Bank became the Castlebank Hotel in the 1970s. A Channel 4 documentary programme, called ‘Risking It All’, recorded the work of Joanne and Henrique Fino to upgrade and reopen the hotel after becoming its fifth owners in July 2003. Originally screened in May 2004, the programme attracted over 3 million viewers and was also shown in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

FOOTNOTES - more on the bivalve research and information about families who lived at Castle Bank in the 19th century.

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Postcode: LL32 8NY

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