The Warren, Hay-on-Wye

The Warren, Hay-on-Wye

This meadow inside a bend of the river Wye has been a popular recreation area for centuries. In the early 1970s a proposal to turn it into a caravan park was overturned after local business people and residents raised enough money to buy the meadow. The Hay Warren Trust continues to look after the site and keep it open to the public.

The Warren is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Animals you might see here include otters, kingfishers and rabbits. It’s thought that the area was used to breed rabbits in medieval times, hence it became known as the Warren.

Further back in history, a Neolithic polished stone axe found near the Warren indicates prehistoric human activity in the vicinity.

On warm days in Victorian times, people and visitors flocked to the Warren to relax and bathe in the river from the shingle beach. On one such day in July 1885, local tailor James Jones got out of his depth in the river and drowned. He had recently married.

hay_on_wye_warren_mapIn August 1916 the Brecon County Times reported that many visitors were taking morning and evening dips at the Warren. Young men on leave from the First World War attracted “the lion’s share of attention from some of the lady visitors”.

From c.1815 horse-drawn wagons on the Hay Railway ran across the Warren. This tramway route, now a footpath on the Warren, is shown on the map on the left. The tramway connected Eardisley to a canal wharf in Brecon.

From 1864 until 1962 the Brecon to Hereford railway passed the Warren on a different alignment (see map). The Midland Railway Company, based in Derby, was responsible for maintaining the “Bailey Walk”, a footpath between the town centre and the Warren. Today you can walk along the railway’s route from the Warren to the river bridge.

With thanks to Tim Pugh

Website of the Hay Warren Trust

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