History of Aberystwyth

1700-mid 1800's

Common Land

Over the next 150 years the system of 'open fields' and common grazing is slowly replaced by fenced in fields.


Ships registered in Aberystwyth



27th of November
(7th December): Storm

Britain hit by a storm. (Regarded by many as the most powerful to hit Britain in recoded history). Many thousands of lives lost and over 150 ships sunk. Worst hit are are south of England and Wales

(cf Storms in 1866, 1887, 1896, 1910, 1927, 1938, 1987, 2002 and 2014)


Halley and the Comet

Edmond Halley discovers and path of the comet that's now named after him



Mercury thermometer invented by Gabriel Fahrenheit. (cf themomoscope 240BC and 100° 1742)

mid 1720's

Dirty Black Smoky

On Aberystwyth: a populous but very dirty, black, smoky place
On its people: looked as if they lived continually in the coal or lead mines
Daniel Defoe[18]



The Gogerddan Arms was built around 1727 on the corner of Bridge St and Greatdarkgate St. It has been -> New Black Lion(?) -> by 1835: Lion Royal Hotel -> Padarn Hall (University's student residence), and was turned into shops and offices in 1990.


Shit Street

Presentment to Aberystwyth Court Leet

We present all such psons as put their Dung into the oppen Street to ye Annoyance and disturbance of the publick within this Corporation.


25 March: English Law

Act of Parliament decrees that the English language replaces Latin on official documents so that "the common people might have knowledge and understanding of what was alleged or done for and against them"


Steam Pump

Steam engine used to pump water out of deep mines where iron rails are used to push carts through the mine. (These were put together in 1803 to form the Locomotive)


Near-by Nanteos Mansion built by the Powell family.


Castle Stones

Presentment to Aberystwyth Court Leet

We present That if any person for the future shell undermine, dull down and Carry away the Stones of the Towers or Castle Walls Shall be obliged to pay five pounds


Cold Irish Famine

Harsh winter followed by famine in Ireland


The Windmill by the side of Pier Street is moved out of the centre of town to a spot behind Tan y Bwlch Beach.[4]

Shit Street

Presentment to Aberystwyth Court Leet

We present all such Inhabitants who lay downe their dunghill opposite their doors the same being a Common Nusaince

Map Aberystwyth 1740
Map of Aberystwyth from 1740


New Dynasty Elected

In this year a member of the Pryce family was elected. It will be 1868 before an Aberystwyth election is won by someone who was not a member of the Pryce family or owes allegiance to them.

Aberystwith Castle 1741
The East View of Aberystwith Castle, In The County of Cardigan


To Thomas Powell Esq
This Prospect is humbly Inscrib'd by
his most Oblig'd Servants
Saml: & Nathl: Buck
THIS Castle stands on the RIver Rhidol near the Mouth of the River Ystwyth, both which
near this Place empty themselves into the Irish Sea. This Castle was built by Gilbert Strong-
bow Son of Richd de Clare in the Reign of K. Henry 1st. It afterwards belong'd to Cadwalader Son
of Griffith ap Conan who had slain Anarawd Prince of South Wales, upon which Owen Gwineth
P. of North Wales burnt it to revenge his Brother's Death AD.1142. There was a Garrison kept here
for sometime after the Death of K. Charles 1st. which the Country finding to be an Incumbrance had
recourse to Arms; & after a tedious Siege became Masters of this Castle. The Proprietor of which is J. Powell Esq
Saml: & Nathl: Buck delin et Sculp. Publish'd according to Act of Parliamt. March 25th. 1741


  • Although their main work of over 400 prints was first published under the title of 'A Collection of Engravings of Castles, Abbeys and Towns in England and Wales' in 1741, Samuel and Nathaniel Buck had started making sketches and these prints as early as 1726.

  • Work on the castle at this site was started in 1277, so references to castles prior to this date would be to other castle sites in this area

Aberystwith Castle 1741
Eastgate sculpt

Aberystwith Castle, in Cardiganshire

Published according to Act of Parliament by Alexr Hogg, No, 16 Paternoster Row.


  • This print is based on the one by the Buck brothers

  • Engraved by John Eastgate 1786-1819

  • Republished by Alexander Hogg many times in the late 1700's

  • 1st edition of 'The Antiquities of England & Wales' was published around 1786



In 1743 fresh trouble arose concerning the Mill in consequence of some inhabitants taking corn to mills outside the town. An action was commenced to determine the question whether grinding elsewhere was an infringement of the rights attached to 'Our Lady's Mill' The difficulty was removed by the Corporation granting a plot of land for the purpose of enlarging the mill and making it sufficient to meet te requirements of the town.[16]


Llyernog Mine

Llywernog mine set up. Silver-lead mining was the major industry in north Cardiganshire for hundreds of years with enormous amounts of capital coming into the area - equivalent to a billion pounds of investment by modern rates. Aber' eventually had four Iron Foundries making mining machinery and a commercial port which exported ore. Many of the mining companies maintained offices in Aber' and the landed gentry of Cardiganshire (more particularly the Powells of Nanteos, Lisburnes of Trawscoed and Pryses of Gogerddan) made fortunes from mining royalties and water rights for wheels.
The mine is now open as a museum.


World Population

- 500
in Billions


Short Year

In England the year 1751 only lasted from the 25th of March till December the 31st. Previously new year's day was on the 25th of March so the last day of 1741 was the 24th of March and the following day was the 25th of March 1742. It also meant that the 20th of March 1742 was almost a year after the 25th of March 1742!


New Calendar - Only 170 Years Late

With the calendar drifting apart from the seasons Britain adopts the Gregorian calendar devised in 1582. To correct for the drift 11 days were 'removed' so the day after the 2nd of September 1752 was the 14th of September 1752. The British 'tax year' still operates on the old Julian calendar, with the new year being on March the 25th (plus 11 day for the uncorrected drift)


Bridge 2 of 3

With the improving roads, the stone 'Devil's Bridge' built around 600 years earlier is deemed ready for an upgrade so a new one is built directly above the first one. The 3rd bridge will be built in 1901.

2nd Devil's Bridge
The Devil's Bridge, Aberystwyth (Pont-Ar-Fynach)


Shit Street

Presentment to Aberystwyth Court Leet

We present all such Inhabitants of Dark Gate Street, Bridge Street Castle Street, and Weeg Street within this Town for throwing Dirt and Ashes over agst their Houses, and having Dunghills in their streets.



In a letter written to his brother, about the year 1757, he [Mr Lewis Morris (born 1701 Anglesey - 1765) , antiquary who worked many of the Cardiganshire Mines] speaks of Cardiganshire as the richest country he ever knew, with the fewest people of ingenuity and talent[15]


Industrial Revolution

Start of the Industrial Revolution


Certain parts of the town walls, which were then dangerous, were ordered to be removed, but portions remained for a further period of 50 years.[16]



One of the 1st banks in Wales was opened in Bridge St. Named the 'Aberystwith & Cardiganshire Bank' it was popularly know as 'Bank y Llong' or 'The Ship Bank' because of ships illustrated on its bank notes and because it served the growing maritime trade of the harbour at the bottom of the street.

Aberystwyth Customs House
Aberystwith & Cardiganshire Bank £5 note
Serial Number 478 issued in August 1822
By kind permission of spink auctions

To this day the building where it started is called . . . . 'The Old Bank House'

Aberystwyth Customs House
The Old Bank House
Bridge Street, Aberystwyth
Here shown in 2013


Customs Growth

Previously, ships where not allowed to sail out of Aberystwyth without the permission of the area Customs House which was down the coast at Aberdovey. Local mine owners and business men petitioned and got the Customs House moved to Aberystwyth. It was built at the junction of Pier Street and King Street allowing the port to flourish. Shipbuilding, fishing and transportation of minerals allow the town to grow.[15]

Aberystwyth Customs House
Customs House, Aberystwyth
(photo from 1890's)
The site is now occupied
by the Cambria Hotel.



Population about 1,400

Aberystwyth Castle Runis - 1769
From the book:
Description of England by Newberry and Carnan

November: Post

Aberystwyth was established as a post-town. Previously post for Aberystwyth was sent to Montgomery. Mary Harris was appointed postmaster her post office was 'adjoining the St Michael's churchyard wall' The 1st regular collection and delivery of letters was just once a week. Postage rates were dependant on the distance the letter travelled and sometimes even the route taken.

  • 12 Devils Bridge
  • 18 Macynlleth
  • 11 Ponterwyd
  • 15 Plimlimon
  • 34 Rhyader
  • 27 Lanidloes
  • 16 Aberairon
  • 29 Lampeter
  • 39 Cardigan
  • 50 Caernarthen
  • 11 Aberdovey
  • 14 Bar Towyn
  • 46 Barmouth
  • 34 Dolgellau

Post miles from Aberystwyth in 1834


Town Hall #2

The town hall of 1690 was built of Lath and plaster and needed regular repair. By 1770 it had become so 'ruinous and out of repair' that it was decided to build a new town hall on the same site.

Cardiganshire Turnpike Act

Act of Parliament allowed members of the local gentry to collect tolls from the users of roads. These tolls where to be used for the improvement and maintenance of the roads.



Tollgate built at Southgate (2km East of Aberystwyth) to control the junction of five roads on the southern approach to Aberystwyth. This was dismantled in 1960 and rebuilt at the Welsh Folk museum in St Fagons.

Aberystwyth Toll House
Toll House, Aberystwyth (Picture by Ruth Nicholas)


Shit Street

Presentment to Aberystwyth Court Leet

We present every Inhabitant of this Town that shall throw any Dirt Stones Rubbish or Ashes into the Streets and shall leave them there for above the Space of Twenty four Hours to be fined five Shillings to be leavied by the Mayor for the use and Benefit of the Corporation.



Memoir to the Life and Labours of Rev. David Peters, born in Aberystwyth in 1765

the town of Aberustwith (sic) at the time was a seat of ignorance and vice. It had no place of worship, the parish church being about two miles distant A chapel of ease was erected when I was a child, but the bishop refused to consecrate it for many years. Such were the ignorance and prejudice of the leading men in the town that very few preachers were permitted to enter it. I remember seeing the ringleaders in the service of Satan pelting a preacher with dirt, because he preached unto them Christ and his salvation. But notwithstanding their persecuting spirit, their reviling on the Sabbath and all manner of other vices, God was pleased to spare the town, and gradually to introduce the Gospel into it. There are now (1818), even at Aberustwith five places of worship, well attended, and a Bible society.


Iron Spring

A small spring was discovered (by the bus station on the junction of Alexandra rd and Plascrug Avenue). Chalybeate, (meaning containing iron salts) spring waters where a popular 'tonic' at this time.

The New Aberystwyth Guide - TJL Pritchard, 1824,[15]

Although favoured by a medical gentleman of the town, with a scientific analysis of this spa, we consider a plain statement of its properties, divested of the abstruse phraseology of science, more serviceable to general readers, and therefore present them with the following brief account. This water resembles the chalybeate springs both of Tunbridge and Llandrindod Wells, equally pellucid and as strongly impregnated. It is simply chalybeate, neither acidulous or saline to the taste, except when it has been mixed with the sea water, after high tides; nor is there any sulphur in it. The spirits are excited and the appetite improved by a perseverance in its use; and in a variety of disorders where steel may be required, it will prove of great service. It is recommended to be drank at eight o'clock in the morning, and again between breakfast and dinner; gradually increasing the dose according to age or habit. As the bowels should be attended to in commencing a course of the chalybeate spa, a glass of sea water or any aperient physic may he taken previously.



Aberystwyth gets Act of Parliament to improve harbour


St David's Club Gentlemen's Society formed (now a Social Club)

Tourist Coaches

Beginnings of Aberystwyth's tourist trade with the 1st regular stagecoach service for Aberystwyth. The coach took the route from Aberystwyth via Devil's Bridge on to Eisteddfa Gurig and then to Shrewsbury.


September 3: Free America

The war between America and Britain formally ends when America's Independence is recognized by the Treaty of Paris

8 June - 7 February 1884: Laki Volcano

Raging for 8 months the Laki volcano (Iceland) was the largest 'high latitude' volcano in over 1000 years. The poisonous gas cloud slowly killed many thousands all over Europe and caused a Famine In Egypt and a deep winter in America.

Laki Volcano

In Britain, the thick, dry, acidic fog that lasted much of the summer killed many thousands by destroying their lungs. The winter of 1783/4 was both much colder and much longer than normal.



By this time Aberystwyth had become a fashionable watering place for visiting gentry. Slowly the town started to clean up the streets and make improvement to suit the refined tastes of the moneyed 'quality' as the gentry were know. Around this time small troupes of actors started visiting to put on shows for the tourists.


October 10: St Mike's #1

Consecration of the Chapel of St Michael which could hold 350

Castle House - Aberystwyth
Chapel of St Michael shown on 1834 Map
It's the building to the south of the large cross shaped building


Out of Town

1st Building outside the town walls built - Sandmarsh Cottage. (At the end of Queens Rd)



Population about 1,750.



A wooden bridge, designed by John Nash, is erected.


Early 1795: Riots

Food Riots in Aberystwyth

Castle House

Completion of a small triangular villa called 'Castle House' It was built for Sir Uvedale Price and designed by John Nash just north-west of the castle ruins.
In 1864 the 'Castle Hotel' will be built around it, which will become the Old College in 1872

Castle House - Aberystwyth
Castle House (in front of Church)
shown on illustration by W Crane

Castle House - Aberystwyth
Castle House shown on 1834 Map

Castle House - Aberystwyth
Castle House here shown about 1830
Engraved by Samuel Lacey from a drawing by John Preston Neale


French Wars

Napoleon Bonaparte leads French armies to numerous European wars

Britain Cut Off

... this forces British tourists to explore local seaside towns like . . . Aberystwyth and the town goes though a growth spurt.


December(?): Snow Bridge

Snowfall so heavy that the sudden thaw sweeps away the bridge - and many others all over England and Wales



Work starts on a stone bridge, also designed by John Nash, to replace the one swept away the year before.



The first building to be built on the common marsh that is now called North Parade.
At this time the marsh frequently flooded, and the road rendered impassable for carts; so much so that women coming into market with their produce from Llanbadarn were forced to take a boat from the junction of Llanbadarn and Penglais Roads, and be rowed up to the foot of Great Dark Gate.
Part of the town wall was pulled down to make space for the expanding town in this case the building of Baker St.
New 'House of Correction Built'.
Bath House built on Bryn Diodde (on the prom, along from the bandstand, where there is now a shelter)

Ships registered in Aberystwyth