Brief introduction to the Planned Town of Tremadog, location of the former Saint Mary’s Church, Tremadog
Tremadog is a Planned Town, the vision of William Alexander Madocks, developed between 1800 and 1811on land reclaimed from salt march. Madocks’ Grand Plan was to open up this whole backward and isolated region by improving communications and developing commerce. The names he gave to the two taverns in the Tremadog’s Market Square, the Union and the Golden Fleece, illustrate this.
The recent Act of Union with Ireland meant that improved communications would be required for the Royal Mail, Members of Parliament and government officials travelling between London and Dublin. There would be new investment in Ireland and Madocks foresaw the economic potential for North Wales of the movement of men and materials. He was a signatory to several of the turnpike trusts in the region, and proposed that the Packet Port for Dublin should be at Porth Dinllaen on the Llyn Peninsular. An essential part of his vision as it would shorten the journey by a day was the Cob, the mile-long embankment linking Meirionydd and Caernarfonshire across the mouth of the Glaslyn.
As for Fleece, the improved communications would enable wool, the main produce of the area at that date, to be transported overland to the increasing urban populations. In order to benefit locally from the increased value of finished goods, Madocks built a Manufactory in Tremadog, an industrial complex including dams and catch-pools, and spinning, weaving and fulling mills.
Madocks’ means were smaller than his vision, however. He drained the land, altered and extended a house above the Town for himself, and personally financed the construction of the first houses around the Square, the Market Hall and the Coaching Inn in order to encourage others to take up and develop further plots. He gave land to the non-Conformists to build Capel Peniel while he paid for the Church. At the same time, he was financing the construction of the Cob. Both were completed in 1811. As described in Fenton’s Tours of Wales 1804 - 1813, the Coadestone gateway to the churchyard was in place from the beginning. But he was heavily in debt by the time the Cob was complete, only for it to be breached within months by a fierce storm. Madocks was almost bankrupt by the effort to repair the Cob.
An unforeseen result of building the Cob was the scouring effect of the river outside the sluice gates, which created the pool that Madocks (now married and using his wife’s fortune) developed as Port Madoc. That town developed, after his sudden early death in 1828, as a shipbuilding centre for the export of slate throughout the world. Meanwhile, Madocks’ competitors had succeeded in making Holyhead the Packet Port for Ireland so Tremadog has survived little altered.
(See Elisabeth Beazley’s booklet summarising her book on Madocks, and CCT’s own booklet)
A Buildings Preservation Trust is a mechanism for preserving and finding a use for a historic buildings that might otherwise be lost due to unusual building type, ownership or access problems or other difficulties that would deter a commercial developer. Cyfeillion Cadw Tremadog was registered as a charity using the Architectural Heritage Fund’s Model Memorandum and Articles in November 1991, at which time it was also registered as a limited liability company. The Trust is a Revolving Fund Trust, with powers to acquire, repair and use, let or sell on historic buildings. Any surplus income from a project is put into the next project, hence “Revolving”. In practice, in a sparsely populated and economically deprived region such as Gwynedd, the end-value of non-residential property is so low that historic repair costs leave a huge “heritage deficit” and the trust is unlikely to make any profit to “revolve”. The Trust was formally established as a result of the consent by the District Authority to demolish the Listed Tannery building, originally a Loom Hall or Loomery and part of Madocks’ original Manufactory. The trust was instrumental in ensuring that emergency repairs were carried out to that building by the District Authority, but unable to persuade the successor authority to take any positive action either to transfer the building to the trust, or to persuade successive owners to repair it.
The trustees are volunteers, all local residents. The trust has no core-funding and no reserves.
The church was closed in 1995. After about a year in which another religious group considered taking it on, the Representative Body of the Church in Wales placed it on the open market by, inviting offers of around £20,000. The trust raised funding for an Initial Feasibility Study completed in 1997, but was unable then to raise further funding due to the property being on the market. However, enquiries from prospective purchasers would come to nothing when they discovered that a full planning application is required for a change of use, and when they realised how much the repair and maintenance might amount to. The RB then agreed to take the property off the market on condition that the trust took a short lease on it while trying to raise funding. Since the trust was unable to obtain insurance for an unused non-residential historic property, the RB agreed to continue to insure it under its block policy, with the trust re-embursing the premium. A 25-year lease was agreed in 2000 with one break-clause only, after 5 years, so that the trust could relinquish the property if it was unable to secure full funding.
The trust then set about raising the funding to commission the professional studies.
The former church is listed Grade II.
The Coade gateway is listed in its own right, also Grade II.
The Community Council has not yet been re-surveyed in the listing re-survey. In the light of the additional information now available, the trust has recently asked Cadw to reconsider the listing of both structures but in particular that of the Coadestone Arch.
The site is within the Conservation Area of Tremadog.
Tremadog is in the Aberglaslyn Area on the ICOMOS Register of Historic Landscapes.
The Plan as presented here is a new document to fulfil the requirements of the Heritage Lottery Fund, compiled from earlier reports prepared for other purposes, and updated with recent information.
The purpose of the Plan in the present format is:
The scope of this Plan has been limited to an examination of the existing fabric, with some archive and original research to discover the date and authorship of particular features. Because archival research has been carried out by volunteers as time permits, there are some gaps in the research.
The need to find an economic use for the former church entails an increase in floor area. The Plan assesses this.
The Plan has been compiled by Frances Voelcker, secretary of Cyfeillion Cadw Tremadog
The long gestation process of this project has permitted extensive consultation between the many interested parties: the Trustees, the residents of Tremadog, the community council, the trustees of Tremadog Memorial Hall, the local planning authority, the relevant statutory consultees, Cadw, the Architectural Heritage Fund, Cytal/APT-Wales, the Welsh Development Agency, and the Representative Body of the Church in Wales. The evolving proposals have been presented at two AGMs and in talks to several historical societies.
Planning and Listed Building Consent was obtained in 2002, Building Regulations submission was made in 2003 and approval granted in April 2004 following the submission of further detail.
The trust has gathered letters of support for the proposals from many local and national organisations.
This Plan has been adopted by the Trustees of Cyfeillion Cadw Tremadog. It has also been circulated with a request for a note of approval, to Gwynedd Council as the Local Authority. It has not been submitted to Cadw as they have indicated that, as primary consultee to the Heritage Lottery Fund, they are unable to respond to prior consultations from applicants to the Heritage Lottery Fund.