Caernarfon Ddoe/Caernarfon's Yesterdays header


Some time ago we discussed bilingual street names in Caernarfon and noticed that not always was the Welsh name a literal translation of the English version, or vice versa. For instance the Welsh name for Wesley Street is Stryd John Llwyd (John Lloyd's Street). The English name can easily be understood since the street is near to Ebenezer Wesleyan Chapel, which raises the question why Stryd John Llwyd in Welsh. This is a question that is often asked these days.

It is believed that it was in the year 1793 that John Lloyd, son of William Lloyd, Shirehall Street, who worked as a boatman for the Customs Office, near to where the Anglesey Hotel is today, was born. According to a Census held in June 1794 William Lloyd and his wife only had one child and as John Lloyd's gravestone in Llanbeblig Church Cemetery gives his age as 74 at the time of death on October 24. 1867, it is believed that John Lloyd was the first child born to William and Anne Lloyd although that particular Census only gives the name of the head of the family and does not name the wife or the children.

Even though John Lloyd became well known in Caernarfon and district as an Architect, research did not produce any evidence of his having received professional instruction in that field, but there are several references to him being a builder and it is believed, as in the case of others in the area, that he was self taught as far as architecture is concerned.

He married Grace Davies by licence on May 23. 1815 in Llanbeblig Church and the couple had four children Anne, Grace, William and Eliza. It is believed that he first became known as an Architect in 1826 following the building of Ebenezer Chapel, where he and R.M. Preece, father of the famous Sir William Preece, were Trustees. As a result much architectural work came his way.

Before commencing on the work on Ebenezer Chapel he drew the plans for the Whitewashed Ty Mawr Lighthouse on Anglesey for the Caernarfon Harbour Trust in 1824. The lantern was added in 1846.

1832. He designed the Market hall in Palace Street where the oldest building in town, Plas Mawr, had first to be demolished.

1832. In the same year, John Lloyd was the Architect who designed the Gas Works on St. Helen's Road. This was the first Gas Works in Wales to become under the control of a Local Authority and second to Manchester throughout the U.K.

1836. Designed the Church Hall Feed My Lambs and Infant School.

1838. Carried out restoration work on St. Ceinwen's Church, Llangeinwen.

1841. Carried out restoration work on Holy Trinity Church, Bryngwran.

1850's early, designed Police Stations at 1) Brynsiencyn 2) Dolgellau 3) Conwy and in 1853 4) Pen Deitsh, Caernarfon.

1855. Designed the Barracks, Llanberis Road, Caernarfon.

1858. Designed the British School and Caretaker's House in South Penrallt, Caernarfon.

It was observed on the 1841 Census that two of John Lloyd's children were born in the early 1820's in Ruthin, which suggests that he did not spend the whole of his life in his home town, but the birth of his youngest child, Eliza is recorded in the parish of Llanbeblig.

It is stated in the
Slate plaque commemorating the Gas Works.
North Wales Chronicle 26.2.1833 that John Lloyd had become bankrupt and summoned to appear before the Commissioners on two separate days, February 25. and April 1. 1833, the meetings to be held at the home of a Mr. James Day, viz. Castle Hotel, Castle Square, Caernarfon. At the time John Lloyd had been connected with two projects, which were The Gas Works on St. Helen's Road and the Market Hall in Palace Street. It is suggested that he went into financial difficulties as a result of his investment in the Market Hall. According to the newspaper he was described as "Builder, Dealer and Chapman," but not as an Architect.

He was bereaved twice in a short period of time. In 1839 his wife, Grace, died in her 56th year after a long illness and he was left with four children aged between 13 and 18. Then on May 11th 1841 his oldest daughter, Ann died aged 20. In the same year he married Ann Michael, Segontium Terrace, by licence at Llanbeblig Church.

It was in the Twthill area that he spent a large part of his life and he designed and built his home, Frondeg, and also the homes of some of his neighbours.

He is further credited for having built the houses in Wesley Street, near Ebenezer Chapel and that is the name that appears in all census of the 19th century, but the name given to the street by the local Welsh speaking population was Stryd John Llwyd. Though the original houses in the street have long been demolished, that is now the official name of the street of fairly new flats built on the site at the latter part of the 20th century. However, one can come across the street name in English viz. John Lloyd's Street in the Burial Registers of the parish of Llanbeblig and one wonders why?

Before concluding this short history of John Llwyd, it should be noted that much has been made along the years of his association with the Wesleyan Denomination, both as a member and a Trustee of the Chapel. However, he must have become a member of the Established Church at some time for in an article in a local paper it is stated that he was a Warden of Llanbeblig Church and that his son, William, was a 'sidesman' in the former English speaking 'Christ Church' which was built in 1862.

A view of both sides of Wesley Street. © Tom Griffiths - Grenz
A View of both sides of Wesley Street. © Tom Griffiths - Grenz.

The Boot Game. © Tom Griffiths - Grenz
The Boot Game. © Tom Griffiths - Grenz

Saturday Morning. © Tom Griffiths - Grenz
Saturday Morning. © Tom Griffiths - Grenz

Sunday. © Tom Griffiths - Grenz
Sunday. © Tom Griffiths - Grenz

A view of both sides of Wesley Street

This is how the street looked from the direction of Chapel Street, with the houses on the right hand side all built in stone and on the left hand side they were a mixture of brick built and stone houses. On the left a shed can be seen with some lettering above the door which is ajar. Here people used to bring their umbrellas to be repaired and the writing on the door read "Hamilton, Umbarella Hospital". There were many of these in town at that time and a well known one was Mr. Ted Morton Jones's Barber Shop in Twthill.

The Boot Game

One of the games that the children in the street played was Y Gêm Esgid or the Boot Game. An old boot was placed in a circle made of chalk exactly half way between two teams of from 1 - 5, dependent upon the number available to play the game. When the number of a team member was called out he would have to run as fast as he could to pick up the boot before his opponent was able to touch it. It was a game devised by the children of the street and everyone thoroughly enjoyed watching it. The original paining was bought by Dr. Alun Armstrong of the Open University of Wales at the National Eisteddfod of 1993.

Saturday Morning

One of the occurrences of some importance on Saturday mornings was a visit by a farmer from Anglesey with his lorry filled with fresh fruit and vegetables. It was his custom to call on the back streets of the town, where he was always welcome due to his geniality, and many bought regularly from him.


In Caernarfon there was an active membership of the Salvation Army as is shown in this photo and despite the fact that money was far from plentiful in the area, the Army always succeeded in securing a worthy collection. Attention should be drawn to the lady in the wheelchair. She was Mrs. Williams of Moriah Square, a faithful member of the S.A. for many years. She was born disabled and spent her whole life in a wheelchair.

Grateful thanks to the artist Mr. Tom Griffith - Grenz - for his kind permission to use these images of his paintings. Please note that they may not be used or reproduced without his express permission.

N.B. Once again the author wishes to acknowledge the excellent research carried out by his friend Geraint Wyn Roberts.

© T. M. Hughes 2010