Ilkeston Cam On Holiday In North Wales 2000

Part Seven - Conwy

A Jewel In The Crown

There are many jewels in the crown of this corner of North Wales but Conwy is surely one of the brightest.

Even when the weather is not at its best as seen here on the right, the approach to the town from the east is nothing less than impressive. Situated at the mouth of the Conwy estuary with a backdrop of Snowdonia's mountains, the mediaeval castle immediately draws the eye.

To reach the west bank and the town, most travellers from the east cross the modern (1958) road bridge.

There are in fact three bridges in close proximity across the river but to me, by far the most impressive is Telford's Suspension Bridge (left).

Note the English spelling of Conwy on the plaque (below) that adorns the bridge that is now used solely by pedestrian traffic.

The photo below left shows all three bridges with, from left to right, the modern road bridge, Telford's Suspension Bridge and Stephenson's Tubular Railway Bridge (1848).

It is possible to compare the styles of architecture in the photo below right and although both are great feats of engineering, who do you think was more sympathetic to the existing mediaeval architecture? No contest!

Equally Impressive From Both Sides Of The River
A better view of Stephenson's bridge may be obtained from the west bank but most tourists turn the opposite way after crossing the river to explore the town.

But to return to Telford's bridge, this Toll House has now been restored by The National Trust and converted into a small museum.

Payment of a small fee not only gains admittance to the building which is now furnished as it would have been over 100 years ago but also permits the visitor to cross and examine this historic landmark at close quarters.

Prior to 1826 and the construction of this bridge, the only way to cross the river was by means of a ferry.

In 1826 Thomas Telford could not have envisaged the phenomenal increase in the volume of traffic that would ensue in the next century and even in 1958, the planners only succeeded in creating a summer bottleneck in Conwy with the opening of the new bridge.

Today much of the speeding traffic on the A55 misses Conwy altogether by using the fourth crossing of the estuary - a road tunnel opened in 1990. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

It's A Small World
In these days where we are often encouraged to "Think Big", it is obvious that in times past the population of this part of North Wales did the opposite. Not only can the area lay claim to having the smallest church in Wales at Rhos-On-sea but Conwy also claims to have Britain's smallest house.

They say the world is getting smaller. With the advent of modern technology, national borders are easily breached as messages fly across the internet from one side of the globe to the other in minutes. Advances in transportation too have contributed to the feeling of a diminishing planet but the modern technological wonders that we now take for granted were far into the distant future when this tiny dwelling was constructed on Conwy's quay side many years ago.

There are many architectural features to be seen and admired in Conwy, not least the impressive castle and town walls but this minute mid-Victorian dwelling is surely the most novel. The building, only 6 feet (1.8m) wide, is easily distinguished by sporting a red painted frontage and it draws visitors to the area like a magnet.

A jolly lady in National Dress bids welcome to visitors at the threshold of Britain's smallest house.

A magnet for visitors to Conwy
Britain's Smallest House

Estate agents would have a field day when describing the one up, one down house to prospective buyers but Moorland Publishing's Visitor's Guide To North Wales And Snowdonia is probably more accurate with its tongue in cheek phrase of "half-up and half-down". It also informs that it was built by a bachelor who obviously had no intention of changing that status.

The picture on the left above was taken looking in from the front door. A built in settle (not visible) with a hinged seat at the bottom right corner of the photo doubled as a coal bunker. The steep, narrow staircase is to the right of the fireplace and leads directly to the bedroom. The photo on the right above was taken from the top step. Ever heard the expression "Not enough room to swing a cat round"? Well I think this is where it must have originated.
Continued in Part 8 - Conwy Quay & Town

Other parts in this series:
1- Llandudno & Llanrwst; 2 - Betwys-y-Coed; 3 - Bangor; 4 - Llyn Ogwen & Llanfair;
5 - Caernarfon & Blaenau Ffestiniog; 6 - Bodelwyddan & Rhos-On-Sea;
9 - The Great Orme & 10 - Llandudno Town.


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