Friday, 14 August 2009

Pwllycrochan Mansion, Colwyn Bay

In Colwyn Bay, Pwllycrochan can mean a few different things. There are the Pwllycrochan Woods stretching along the hillside at the rear of the town, the Pwllycrochan Estate (the sale of which back in September 1865 kick-started the development of Colwyn Bay as a select seaside resort) and, of course, the Pwllycrochan Mansion (now known as Lyndon Preparatory School).

This time, I'm looking at the Pwllycrochan Mansion, the large white building that stands amid the remainder of what was once the Pwllycrochan Estate elevated above Colwyn Bay. Stand on the prom at Rhos, look towards the woods at the back of Colwyn Bay and you can't miss it.


This impressive building was originally called a manor house called Pwllycrochan or Pwllycrochon (the plainer half to the right in this photo is the original building dating back to the 17th Century but much altered) and it was the sale of its large surrounding Estate by the Erskine family in September 1865 that gave birth to the town of Colwyn Bay. The sale included the Pwllycrochan mansion, the demesne, farm buildings and gardens. These, and some adjoining land, were purchased by John Pender, a Manchester and Glasgow business man, who appointed John Porter as his agent.

In 1875, following business difficulties, Pender sold the estate and the bulk of his property at an Auction held at the Colwyn Bay Hotel on the 12th October. The majority of the Estate passed to a Manchester based consortium for £87,500 – they then formed the Colwyn Bay and Pwllycrochan Estate Company – which continued with planning and development of the new seaside resort town. The estate had an office in Colwyn Bay and was managed over the years by a number of prominent and eminent architects or surveyors.

The sale of the estate released a large area of land for building (much of the area of the present central Colwyn Bay) and much of the development we see today took place in a 40 year period between 1875 and the outbreak of the First World War.

The mansion itself (along with 20+ acres of grounds) was leased by Mr. John Porter and it was remodelled into a hotel during 1866 by Booth Chadwick & Porter. Much of the present interior is a result of that remodelling and, of particular interest, are the Library, Dining Room and the original Gent's Lavatories, complete with richly tiled walls, a mosaic tiled flor and original lavatory fittings! By 1911, the hotel advertised itself as having "Ground floor suites, electric light, billiards, bathing, tennis & golf".

On the 12th May 1937, it hosted the Grand Coronation Ball to celebrate the Coronation of King George VI. Tickets (including Supper) were fifteen shillings and sixpence.



During the Second World War, it was requisitioned by the Government (along with almost all the other larger hotels in Colwyn Bay), which had selected Colwyn Bay to be the new home of the Ministry of Food for the duration of the war. Pwyllcrochan was used as a Staff Canteen for the men from the Ministry.

Pwllycrochan did not reopen as a hotel until July 1948, three years after the war ended. Before it reopened, it received "extensive alterations" and now had 75 bedrooms and a staff of 35. The proprietor was "Mrs L. M. Hesketh (of the Old Hall Hotel, Buxton)". By now, it was boasting "hot & cold water in bathrooms, own garden produce, electric lift, modern private garage, lock-up boxes". In 1949, it advertised weekly Dinner Dances, on Saturday, at a price of twelve shillings & sixpence per head. It was stated that 'Evening Dress was preferred'.

Sadly, things were just not the same after the war and, in 1952, the Pwyllcrochan Hotel closed for good, the victim of changing trends in British holidays. The buildings and grounds were sold to Rydal School, who moved their Preparatory School there from Inglewood in 1953. The Preparatory school was renamed Lyndon Preparatory School following a merger with another local private primary school in 2003.

4 comments:

Carneades said...

Excellent images there, Cham, and some very evocative story details. It's an impressive building with excellent views.

Councillor John Oddy said...

Dave,
Excellent photography of a magnificent building and a wonderful insight into it’s history.

Trojan said...

The proprietor was "Mrs L. M. Hesketh (of the Old Hall Hotel, Buxton)".

Any connection to 'Hesketh Road?'

Alexander Curzon said...

Rydal Preparatory School had major abuse issues through the 1960's and 1970's it was a terrible place as a "school" i sincerely hope it has changed in more recent times.

As for the architectural merit i would assume instititutional use will have taken it's toll although the old hotel lavatories were splendid and were tiled in a victorian manner with mahogany partitions and loo seats.

As pupils we had to steal food as they used to quite literally starve us by feeding us pigswill.

So much for your school days being "THE BEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE".

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