Nantlle Valley History



A Brief History of the Village

Penygroes is a 19th century village established along the course of the medieval road from Caernarfon to Clynnog, and along the 1820s road that partly superseded it. The nucleus of the community, and the feature from which it takes its name, is the junction between the pre-1820s road and the road to Cloddfa'r Coed, and the smithy established there around 1801.

The village expanded as a local retailing, banking and administrative centre throughout the nineteenth-century, and saw further expansion in the later twentieth-century with the provision of social housing and the industrial estates in response to the decline of the slate industry and its consequent social upheaval.


The earliest buildings are situated on the main (1820s) road through the village - High Street (Heol y Dŵr). Hên Bost and Siop Griffith, which are coeval with the road, are substantially constructed from local stone. The row known as Treddafydd, constructed in 1837, is one of the earliest long industrial rows in Gwynedd, and is roofed with coarse mottled slates from Cloddfa'r Lôn. Later housing on County Road follows the course of the Nantlle Railway, operational from 1828 to 1872; these dwellings preserve an attractive variety of ornamented porches and wrought-iron fencing.

Building material of later houses, such as those on Allt Doli, Victoria Road and Snowdon Street, is often small field stones, presumably used in the absence of more substantial material. Many of these buildings were, and in some cases still are, shops; and several comparatively ornate nineteenth-century shop-fronts survive.

Alien architectural influence is evident in the row known as the Tai American (American Houses), constructed in a mid-west Prairie idiom, possibly the work of a returning emigrant.

The area includes a number of substantial late-nineteenth century buildings including the former county school (1896), the former post office, now the HSBC bank and the Commercial Inn. The patterned slate roofs on the former offices of the Riley Quarry company at the junction of Victoria Road and County Road are worthy of note. A similar pattern is found on the gate-house on the road to Talysarn.

The industrial estate on the southern edge of the area consists of a number of large steel prefabricated sheds and smaller office buildings.

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