Building development in Colwyn Bay

Collections - Posted 06-01-2020

Are you a house historian in Colwyn Bay? It’s your lucky day! I have discovered a bundle of documents in the Longueville solicitors’ collection which concerns building development on the Cefn estate, 1891-1921. The land was owned by Captain Robert William Herbert Watkin Williams Wynn and the development was centred around Colwyn Bay, Old Colwyn  and Llysfaen. Local contractors were engaged: Robert Evans for the housing construction, Roberts and Ellis for the back roads and Fred J. Tucker for the sewers. The building sites were located in Meriadog Road, Cadwgan Road, Llanelian Road, Wellington Road, Peulwys Road, Abergele Road, Bodelwyddan Avenue, Berthglyd Road and Coed Coch Road. Leases of the finished properties were taken up by private individuals and by businesses such as Old Colwyn Golf Club and Black’s Advertising Agency.

This file is a fantastic historical resource. Some of the choicer items include a plan and elevation of a substantial, seven-bedroomed leasehold house for Mrs Liddell in 1908. The property was built to a high specification with large bay windows, a wood block floor in the hall, parquet in the drawing room, picture rails in the main rooms, a cellar and a butler’s pantry. There are also plans of Wyndcliffe in Abergele Road, 1910, a portion of the Cefn estate, 1910, Wellington Road [c. 1916] and a proposed motor garage for Dr Leeming, adjoining Mohrcroft garden, 1921.

The builder had taken out substantial loans to fund the construction work and the cash flow dried up around 1911. There is a notice to Robert Evans of rescission of his contract and letters from Robert William Herbert Watkin Williams Wynn, ordering the tenants to pay their rents directly to him instead.  Perhaps Robert Evans junior saved the business when he contracted successfully for an extension to Bodelwyddan Avenue in 1912. The specifications included 2 gullies, one each side with iron grating….Talacre stone neatly dresssed on top and side and closely jointed… channelling of Buckley Firebricks, same laid on a concrete bed and flushed with Portland cement…..

It is amazing how much information is packed into those seventy or so documents. You can identify the locations of the Edwardian housing development in Colwyn Bay and the type of high-quality construction that was expected. You are given the names of the landowner, the builders and the lessees. You may predict the advent of the motor car in Dr Leeming’s planning application for a garage. You can even trace the fluctuations in the fortunes of the building firm. The career of Robert Evans perhaps should not be judged by his money problems in 1911 but by the high standard of the newly built houses which lined the streets of Colwyn Bay and Llysfaen.

Hilary Peters
Assistant Archivist

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