Close Window September 1994


As you will have seen, Dwyfor is currently carrying out the works required under the terms of the Dangerous Structures and Environmental Health Notices issued last December. The garage in front of Bron Haul, the modern industrial buildings in front of the Tannery and the lean-to on the Tannery itself have been demolished and the rubbish cleared from the site. Work to stabilise the upper parts of the Tannery walls, and minimum works to the roof timbers of the Tannery & Bron Haul are now under way, to enable corrugated metal sheet to be secured to the roofs. The precious diminished course slates have been removed by Dwyfor and securely stored. AIl the openings in Bron Haul and the Tannery will be boarded up to prevent access.

Under the terms of the notices, only those works necessary to avert public danger and to end the environmental problems caused to
the neighbour by Bron Haul may be carried out. No repairs as such may be made. Dwyfor wil distrain on the present owners for the costs of the works. The present owner is legally speaking a company set up by Mr & Mrs Hibberts for the purpose. The company has no other assets than the site.


In July, Dwyfor's Chief Executive Meurig Royles agreed at last to meet representatives of the Trust. Our chairman Dewi Williams, Dr William George and our secretary Frances Voelcker met Mr Royles and Deputy Chief Planner Aled Sturkey. Dwyfor agreed to put forward the Trust's proposals as part of their bid for Strategic Development Scheme (SDS) funding, to a maximum of £100,000. They imposed a number of conditions. First, that £30,000 be earmarked for the purchase of the site. The Trust argued strongly that the site is a liability not an asset and has been valued as unmarketable by an independent Professional Surveyor. ( £30,000 is approximately the cost of the Emergency Works that Dwyfor will distrain for...)

Dwyfor further insisted that only 1 year could be shown in the bid; thus the benefit of the overall scheme which might take a minimum of 3 years to complete could not be shown. The whole scheme should create 18 jobs, and will lift the blight that has hung over Tremadog for many years. House prices will increase and the local businesses should benefit from additional visitors. The Trust attached a description of the whole scheme as an annexe to the bid.

Dwyfor also refused to include in the bid any element of staff costs, rejecting the Trust's claim that it needs a hi-lingual administrator in order to raise matchfunding should the SDS bid be successful. Considering the size of the overall scheme - £860,000 - it is quite unrealistic to dispute the need for a part time paid administrator.

Dwyfor appears to be backing the Trust's bid only to recover its costs - costs it need never have incurred if it had used the Listed building legislation available to it before the building became a danger to the public.

Dwyfor has itself been in default of its statutory duty to protect Listed buildings for many years. lts neglect predates the present ownership of the Tannery site.

ln failing to use Listed building legislation to ensure the transfer of this whole site into suitable ownership; Dwyfor continues to fall
shod. We can only hope that the Successor Authority will be more conscientious.


In response to the Trust's request to Cadw to regrade the Tannery from Grade II to Grade II*, their Dr Peter Wakelin, a specialist in industrial buildings, visited the site in July.

There is conflicting archival evidence about the original use of the Tannery building. In her excellent book, ''Madocks and the Wonder of Wales'' Elizabeth Beasley identifies the remaining building with the Woollen Mill that is described in Madocks' letters.* However, a map in the archives drawn in 1 970 from the memories of Frank Lloyd Griffith (born 1898) shows the Woollen Mill to  have been along the north east retaining wall below the catchword. lt also shows a waterwheel running though the centre of the Woollen Mill, with a system of belts to transmit drive elsewhere on the site. The Tannery building is marked ''Tannery''.

Dr Wakelin was puzzled by the lack of evidence of a water wheel behind or next to the Tannery building, and considered the only likely location to be a brick-built slot in the centre of the stone retaining wails at the north east of the site, corroborating the map in the archives.

The 1872 photograph of the Gorsedd ceremony in Tremadog shows a large building in the presumed position of the Woollen Mill. It had straight not hipped gable ends and was three or four storeys high. It can be seen in a photograph from c. 1930 in the possession of an older Tremadog resident. lt was known as Y Stordy Mawr (Great Warehouse). It was already ruinous some 70 years ago.

Was this the ''three storey building to the rear of the Tannery'' reproducing some of the Tannery's features, also Listed in 1951?


Fortunately, the Trust has found a volunteer, Mr Reg Chambers Jones to research the archives to see if he can find any answers to these riddles. We have also asked him to look for information on John Williams, Madocks' agent. John Williams came from Anglesey to work as a garden boy for Madocks, but must have been exceptionally gifted to achieve so much. He was also literate,
and this in 1800, so his origins cannot have been too humble... Mr Chambers Jones will also make a note of material suitable for an Interpretive Display.


The joint project with Ysgol y Gorlan was very successful. The Trust worked with the 9-1 1 year-olds for eight mornings, looking at building materials and the evolution of buildings; the history of Tremadog, Madocks, and the region; turnpikes, the two Embankments, and the Porthdinllaen/Holyhead rivalry. We visited the archives in Caernarfon, Plas Tan yr Allt which was Madocks'
home, and drew and photographed in the Square. Finally, the children considered the the County's proposed re-design of the square and showed their proposals to the county's designer, John Wyn Williams. The children and the Trust mounted an excellent exhibition in the school, but unfortunately Prince Charles' visit to Caernarfon eclipsed our advance publicity! We will remount it with additional material in the Memorial Hall, 27-29 October. Many thanks to the Trust supporters, Mr Rhys Glyn at Ysgol y Gorlan, the County Archives, Ysgol Steiner Eryri, John Wyn Williams and Nigel Hughes, photographer.

The second part of the project is to design a free leaflet to promote Tremadog and the Trust's proposals; and a booklet for sale, giving a brief summary of the Madocks story. Both will be either hi-lingual, or in Separate Welsh and English versions. The budget allows for some colour. Promised grants should cover the estimated costs, and sales should bring the Trust a little income. Work on the leaflet has begun.


Elisabeth Beasley's book is out of print and even the 1985 paperback edition is hard to come by. However, Elisabeth Beasley has just published a booklet (in English only) ''A Taste of Madocks'' summarising his life and achievements. It costs £1.95, available from Browsers Bookshop, Porthmadog, and is a good introduction to Madocks' and his works in the area.


ln 1991 as part of the Preliminary Feasibility Study which resulted in the establishment of the Trust, a Planning Application for Outline
Consent and Listed Building Consent was made to Dwyfor for the mixed use of the Tannery site for Tourism/Light industry, with a cafe. Dwyfor recommended for approval, but Cadw asked for further detail. The Trust was not in a position to commission the detailed work, so this application has been pending since 1991 . Early in 1994, the Trust asked Adam & Frances Voelcker, Architects to prepare the necessary detail on the basis that if and when funds become available they will be paid. Accordingly, more detailed
designs were submitted to Dwyfor in July. Cadw has received the proposals and has no objections; Dwyfor confirms that it has no
objections. These designs will form part of the Trust's display open to the public in October.

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