Dafydd Llewelyn's History of Caernarfon Streets

(c) Dafydd Llewelyn (Dafydd Esso) 2001

Caernarfon- The Streets

The names of some of the old streets in Caernarfon can disclose a lot about the town and its people in the old days, one such street is Bridge Street, although today there is no bridge to be seen, there was years ago a bridge here that was known as "Bont Bridd", and indeed this name is still in use by the local people, Bont Bridd-(Earthen bridge) was built in 1285, workmen and headmen being engaged on the 6th of May, and work was completed by the l1th of November of that same year at a cost of £121.7.6. John Speed's plan of the town in l6l0, it shows the bridge as having six arches, three over the River Cadnant, one at the northern end at the bottom of South Penrallt, and two at the southern end by Castle Square, after the building of the bridge a large pool was formed which stretched back to where the fly-over now stands. This pool has also given it name to a few street, Pool Street, Pool Lane, Pool Side,

and Pool Hill,the Cadnant flowed out of the pool through three outlets under the bridge, tile centre stream housed a mill-race that powered the town mill, here again an old street was given it name because the mill was located there. This is "Mill Lane" which starts off Eastgate Street and ends by Greengate Street. This mill and another on the River Seiont was a source of revenue to the Crown as they were both Royal Mills, all who had grain had it ground at one of these mills, another source of revenue came from the fishing right on the pool.On completion of the bridge life must have been more convenient for the towns people who had goods to convey for sale in the market and fairs held in Castle Square or Y Maes Glas as it was then called. It was on Y Maes Glas according to W.H.Jones, in his book "Old Karnarvon "that this was site of" that barbarous amusement, cock-fighting now happily abolished, was indulged in by out ancestors," as well as cock-fights, there was also bull-baiting done here, so great was the desire shown for this diversion that. Every butcher who killed a bull, without been baited, was liable to a fine varying from 1s, to 3s, 4d., according to the size of the animal. The "Maes" has not always been on area of level ground, in the old days it was a high rocky mound, and had signs of having once been a conical hill, and flat on top, and sloping down towards the Seiont On the western end of Y Maes, Hole-in-the-Wall Street runs just inside the town walls from the square down to Porth-Mawr, It is said that this street was given it name as a result of a hole that was made at the Castle end of the Wall to allow people to get to Y Maes without having to go around through Turf Square, but some believe that the hole was made further down, opposite Greengate Street, Hole-in-Wall was well known as a street which contained numerous "Temperance's" as well as three or four public houses.Palace Street, or Stryd y Plas as it was known in the old days, had it name from "Plas Mawr" which once stood on the site of the Market Hall, which was built in 1832,Plas Mawr was the property of the Griffith family of Penrhyn, who held a high position in the town and county of Caernarfon, It is believed that Palace, and Plas were used as a translation from Welsh to English, and so the name is still in use today. East gate Street was formerly known as "Stryd Porthmawr". The original gate was defended on the outside by towers, and a moat which ran the whole course of the town walls, and was spanned by here by a drawbridge, this gate was the main entrance to the town, and was most carefully guarded, the "porter of the gate" was paid the sum of £3.10s. a year. At the western end of Eastgate Street, at the bottom of North Penrallt, stands Turf Square, this place was given it name because years ago old women and children about six or seven years old with bare feet were seen about the square selling heath and as it was known in Welsh, it was also known as the "Oatmeal Market" and "Pendist Grounds' and is still known as "Pendist" today by the local people, there were four houses at one time dividing Bangor Street in two, these stood between the Ship and Castle Hotel, and the Institute building, back as far as the bottom of North Penrallt, this was known as Boot Street, and is said that here were the last two thatched roof houses in town the pillory was also located here, and were in use along with the stocks which were by Porth Mawr in 1788 North Penrallt was known as "Stryd y Priciau Saethu" as well as Twthill Street, the former when translated from Welsh means":- Priciau means sticks, and Saethu,s hoot, but, in English both words together means arrows, and came about because this was the site that the "bow-men" did their archery practice. Shirehall Street was at one time known as "Jail Street" as this was the street that the County Goal was in, and was built in 1784 by a Mr Penson, from Wrexham, although it was built in 1784 hanging took place in Caernarfon long before this date, but the place was on a boggy ground about a mile from town, some who met their end here were:-May 2nd 1751 A preacher who killed his wife with a shoe- makers hammer and afterwards throwing her to the Mill Pool of Felin Fach near Glangwna, A tinker by the name of Sion from Rowen on May 2 1756, two men in May 1758, Margaret Morris, for killing a boy in 1774,"Civil Will" was probably the first man to hang in the town jail, for robbing a shop in Beddgelert in 1789 the last man was William Murphy for the murder of Gwen.E Jones at Holyhead on Christmas day 1909, and was executed on 15th of February 1910. Church street is where St Mary's Church stands, this was the site of a much older structure, which was according to W.H.Jones' Old Karnnrvon, probably, used as the garrison chapel for the castle, and was built in 1360, the old church was pulled down almost entirely, and a new St Mary' s as we know it today was built. Some other old places in Caernarfon that seems to be of interest are the old "Court's" or "Cowtiau" as they were known in Welsh, there were many in town, some with very strange sounding names» here are a few: - Shaddock, Hughes, Rathborne, all of North Penrallt Evanc. (Court Bach), Rae's (Joseph Roberts), Eliza, Babtist (Cwrt Baw Iar),James, all of Pool Street to name just a few, but there were twenty-seven in all if not more, these very small houses most of them contained only two up and two down.




It may be already too late to look for photographs or any

kind of records of some of these old building's but if anyone has

any information about them or indeed anything regarding Caernarfon

please do not throw them or put them in the fire, contact me at nrhenllys@tiscali.co.uk.

[Memory Lane]