Penrhyn Park wall, Talybont, Bangor

button-theme-slavesPenrhyn Park wall, Talybont, Bangor

The long stone wall here encloses Penrhyn Park, developed by a family which made a fortune from Jamaican sugar plantations, worked by large numbers of slaves, and slate quarrying in North Wales.

The Wales Coast Path detours inland in this area because Penrhyn Park incorporated the shoreline after 1784, leading to friction with local residents and an 1845 court case which established the public’s right to fish near the park. From here the wall continues westwards then northwards past Llandygai and Port Penrhyn, the dock developed for the family’s slate exports.

The main gateway into the park, west of here, is used by many visitors to Penrhyn Castle and its grounds, now owned by the National Trust. See the link below for visiting details.

The castle replaced a manor house which was enlarged and fortified c.1440. The current castle was built from 1822 to 1837 for George Hay-Dawkins Pennant. He had married into the Pennant family, which owned the Penrhyn estate. It also owned sugar plantations in Jamaica which Gifford Pennant had started developing in the 17th century.

The estates were inherited by Richard Pennant, a Liverpool MP who frequently spoke in Parliament in support of slavery, from which he and the city both benefited financially. Richard, the 1st Baron Penrhyn, owned almost 1,000 slaves by 1805. He died in 1808 and his estates passed to George.

After Britain abolished slavery in 1833, the Government compensated slave owners for their freed slaves. George Pennant had to release 764 slaves, on four Jamaican estates. For this he received almost £14,700 compensation, about £1.8m in today’s money. The slaves received no compensation.

George died in 1840 and his vast wealth passed to his daughter Juliana and her husband Edward, who was made Lord Penrhyn in 1866.

From 1782, successive members of the family developed the Penrhyn quarry, near Bethesda, into the world’s largest slate quarry. They also funded or gifted land for many roads, houses, places of worship and schools.

Sources include the Centre for the Study of Legacies of British Slave-ownership, and the National Trust

Visitor information and more history – National Trust website

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