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Llandudno - Overview

Llandudno takes its name from the sixth-century church of St Tudno on the Great Orme. According to tradition St Tudno was the son of Seithenyn, the legendary, and irresponsible, king of Cantre’r Gwaelod, the drowned kingdom under Cardigan Bay. There is evidence for Neolithic settlement in the area, and copper mining on the Orme was taking place as early as the Bronze Age, but the Llandudno’s origins lie in the establishment of the Mannor of Gogarth for the Bishop of Bangor in 1284. Until the late 1840’s, Llandudno existed as a small fishing and mining village and its rise to prominence is owed to the development of seaside tourism.

In 1846, a new resort town was proposed and from 1849 the Mostyn family, who held enclosed land along the bay, leased plots to prospective developers. With the arrival of the railway in 1850’s, hotels sprung up along the sea-front and a large pier was built in 1858. In 1902, the tram system was developed and The Grand Hotel, at that time the largest hotel in Wales, was built. To this day, Llandudno’s grid-like layout is evidence of the modern development of this fashionable holiday resort.

With its white beach, picturesque views from the Great and Little Orme across the bay and easy access to Snowdonia, the town drew an international crowd from that start. In a letter dating from 1859, holiday-maker Gottfried Kinkel from Germany reported to have been the first person to swim across Llandudno Bay in an hour and fifty minutes. The Queen of Romania, Elisabeth von Wied, visited in 1890. Growing up, she had been introduced to Welsh poetry by her tutor, the polyglott Georg Sauerwein. During her five-week stay in Llandudno, she participated in the festivities of the National Eisteddfod that year under her pseudonym ‘Carmen Sylva’. According to local legend, Llandudno’s town motto ‘hardd, hafan, hedd’ derives from her description of Wales as ‘beautiful haven of peace’.

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