Last updated
Abergele from Tan-y-Gopa.jpg
Abergele from Tan-y-Gopa
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Red pog.svg
Location within Conwy
Population10,577 (2011)
OS grid reference SH945775
  • Abergele
Principal area
Ceremonial county
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ABERGELE
Postcode district LL22
Dialling code 01745
Police North Wales
Fire North Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament
Welsh Assembly
List of places
53°17′N3°35′W / 53.28°N 3.58°W / 53.28; -3.58 Coordinates: 53°17′N3°35′W / 53.28°N 3.58°W / 53.28; -3.58

Abergele ( Loudspeaker.svg Welsh pronunciation ) is a small market town and community, situated on the north coast of Wales between the holiday resorts of Colwyn Bay and Rhyl, in Conwy County Borough. Its northern suburb of Pensarn lies on the Irish Sea coast and is known for its beach, where it is claimed by some that a ghost ship has been sighted. Abergele and Pensarn railway station serves both resorts. Abergele is often overlooked due to the popularity of towns in nearby Rhyl, Prestatyn, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno and Conwy.

Market town European settlement with the medieval right to host markets

A market town is a European settlement that obtained, in the Middle Ages, the right to host markets, which distinguished it from a village or city. In Britain, small rural towns with a hinterland of villages are still commonly called market towns, as sometimes reflected in their names.

A community is a division of land in Wales that forms the lowest tier of local government in Wales. Welsh communities are analogous to civil parishes in England. In 2016 there were 870 communities in Wales.

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.



The meaning of the name Abergele can be deduced by aber being the Welsh word for estuary, river mouth or confluence and 'Gele' the name of the river which flows through the town. Gele is a dialectal form of gelau, which means spear, describing the action of the river cutting through the land. It has also been suggested this river is named because its waters flash brightly.

Welsh language Brythonic language spoken natively in Wales

Welsh ; [kʰəmˈraiɡ](listen)) or y Gymraeg is a Brittonic language of the Celtic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is spoken natively in Wales, by some in England, and in Y Wladfa. Historically, it has also been known in English as "Cambrian", "Cambric" and "Cymric".

River Gele river in United Kingdom

The River Gele is a river in the North Wales and a tributary of the River Clwyd. The town of Abergele takes its name from the river. The spelling is a dialectal spelling of the Welsh word gelau (spear).


Gwrych Castle Gwrych Castle 2014.jpg
Gwrych Castle

The town itself lies on the A55 road and is known for Gwrych Castle. The town is surrounded by woodland covered hillsides, which contain caves with rare lesser horseshoe bat. The highest hill is Moelfre Isaf (1040 ft) to the south of the town. There are also outstanding views from Cefn-yr-Ogof (669 ft), Tower Hill (587 ft) and Castell Cawr (known locally as Tan-y-Gopa) which is 189 metres (620 feet). Castell Cawr is an Iron age hillfort, one of several in the area. Dinorben hillfort to the east of town was destroyed in the 1980s.

A55 road major road in Britain

The A55, also known as the North Wales Expressway is a major road in Britain. Its entire length from Chester to Holyhead is a dual carriageway primary route, with the exception of the Britannia Bridge over the Menai Strait and several short sections where there are gaps in between the two carriageways. All junctions are grade separated apart from a roundabout east of Penmaenmawr and another nearby in Llanfairfechan. Initially, the road ran from Chester to Bangor. In 2001, it was extended across Anglesey to the ferry port of Holyhead parallel to the A5. The road improvements have been part funded with European money, under the Trans-European Networks programme, as the route is designated part of Euroroute E22.

Gwrych Castle Grade I listed building in Conwy County Borough

Gwrych Castle is a Grade I listed 19th-century country house near Abergele in Conwy county borough, Wales.

Woodland low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade

A woodland or wood is a low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade. Woodlands may support an understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants including grasses. Woodland may form a transition to shrubland under drier conditions or during early stages of primary or secondary succession. Higher density areas of trees with a largely closed canopy that provides extensive and nearly continuous shade are referred to as forests.

Abergele (including Pensarn) has a population of around 10,000 [1] and is part of the Abergele/Rhyl/Prestatyn urban area with a population of 64,000. Approximately 29% of Abergele has a significant knowledge of Welsh. The town also has satellite villages such as Saint George, Betws yn Rhos, Rhyd-y-foel, Belgrano, Llanddulas and Llanfair Talhaearn.

Population All the organisms of a given species that live in the specified region

In biology, a population is all the organisms of the same group or species, which live in a particular geographical area, and have the capability of interbreeding. The area of a sexual population is the area where inter-breeding is potentially possible between any pair within the area, and where the probability of interbreeding is greater than the probability of cross-breeding with individuals from other areas.

Rhyl Town in North Wales

Rhyl is a long-popular Welsh seaside resort town and community in the county of Denbighshire. It lies within the historic boundaries of Flintshire, on the north-east coast of Wales at the mouth of the River Clwyd. To the west is the suburb of Kinmel Bay and the resort of Towyn beyond, to the east Prestatyn, and to the south Rhuddlan. At the 2011 Census, Rhyl had a population of 25,149. The conurbation of Abergele–Rhyl–Prestatyn has a population of over 60,000, with Rhyl-Kinmel Bay having 31,229. Once an elegant Victorian resort, an influx from Liverpool and Manchester after the Second World War changed the face of the town. It had declined dramatically by 1990, but has since been improved by regeneration projects that bring in major investment. Several million pounds of European Union funding secured by the Welsh Government has been spent on developing the seafront.

Prestatyn town in Denbighshire, Wales

Prestatyn is a seaside town and community in Denbighshire, Wales. Historically a part of Flintshire, it is located on the Irish Sea coast, to the east of Rhyl. At the 2001 Census, Prestatyn had a population of 18,496, that increased to 18,849 at the 2011 census.

Pensarn and Belgrano are significantly less Welsh than the rest of town, with 69.3% of people having no Welsh identity in the 2011 census. [2]


Bridge Street, Abergele circa 1875 Bridge street, Abergele NLW3363782.jpg
Bridge Street, Abergele circa 1875
Cottages in Abergele Cottages in Water Street - geograph.org.uk - 920311.jpg
Cottages in Abergele

Abergele was the site of an important clas (Celtic monastery) and remained settled into the 13th century. A "Prince Jonathan of Abergeleu" is listed by the B text of the Annals of Wales as dying during the 9th century reign of Rhodri the Great, [3] although Charles-Edwards has supposed him to have simply been the monastery's abbot. [4] Edward I is known to have briefly stayed there in December 1294 during his invasion of Wales to suppress the revolt of Madog ap Llywelyn.

A clas was a native Christian church in early medieval Wales. Unlike later Norman monasteries, which were made up of a main religious building supported by several smaller buildings, such as cloisters and kitchens, a clas was normally a single building. The building was run by a community of clergy and headed by an abod. Clasau were autonomous and were administered locally.

Celtic Christianity Christianity in the Celtic-language speaking world during the early Middle Ages

Celtic Christianity or Insular Christianity refers broadly to certain features of Christianity that were common, or held to be common, across the Celtic-speaking world during the Early Middle Ages. Celtic Christianity has been conceived of with differing levels of specificity: some writers have described a distinct Celtic Church uniting the Celtic peoples and distinguishing them from the Roman Church, while others classify it as simply a set of distinctive practices occurring in those areas. Varying scholars reject the former notion, but note that there were certain traditions and practices present in both the Irish and British churches that were not seen in the wider Christian world.

Rhodri the Great King of Gwynedd who unified the whole of Wales  (c. 820–878)

Rhodri ap Merfyn, later known as Rhodri the Great, succeeded his father, Merfyn Frych, as King of Gwynedd in 844. Rhodri annexed Powys c. 856 and Seisyllwg c. 871. He is called "King of the Britons" by the Annals of Ulster. In some later histories, he is referred to as "King of Wales", although the title is anachronistic and his realm did not include southern Wales.

Sites of historical interest include two Iron Age hillforts; Castell Cawr at Tan y Gopa and Fort Dinorben (now virtually disappeared owing to limestone quarrying) at St. George. On Gallt y Felin Wynt, a hill above the town popularly known as Tower Hill or Bryn Tŵr, is a 17th-century watchtower, partially restored in 1930. There is another Iron Age fort at Pen y Corddyn Mawr hill above Rhyd y Foel. There is also another watchtower, Lady Emily's Tower, which is located near Cefn yr Ogof.

Gwrych Castle was built between 1819-25 at the behest of Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh. From 1894 until 1946 it was the residence of the Dundonald family. [5] Gwrych Castle's present owner, Californian businessman Nick Tavaglione, who bought the landmark in December 1989 put Gwrych up for auction on 2 June 2006, but it failed to sell. The condition of the property is being monitored by the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust. [6] It is undergoing renovation.

The boxers Bruce Woodcock (in the late 1940s) and Randolph Turpin (in 1952) trained at Gwrych Castle and the film Prince Valiant , was filmed there in 1996, and starred Edward Fox and Katherine Heigl.

A curious undated inscription can be found on a tombstone in St Michael's parish church (built on the site of the old clas). It states "Here lieth in St Michael's churchyard a man who had his dwelling three miles to the north." As the sea is little more than half a mile away at this point, this suggests that the sea has made some considerable advance over the centuries. [7]

Outside the church is a penitential stone where sinners had to do penance by standing, dressed in white, by the stone and beseech the congregation for mercy as they entered and left the church.

The 1868 Abergele rail disaster was, at that time, the worst railway disaster in Britain. The 33 people who died are buried in a mass grave in the local churchyard.

Abergele Sanitorium was built just outside Abergele in 1910; [8] it became a community hospital in the 1980s. [9]

On 30 June 1969, the evening before the Investiture of the Prince of Wales in Caernarfon, two members of Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (Welsh Defence Movement), Alwyn Jones and George Taylor, were killed when the bomb they were planting outside government offices exploded prematurely.

Tower on Tower Hill, Abergele Tower hill abergele.jpg
Tower on Tower Hill, Abergele


Recent genetic studies as part of the Genetic history of Europe [10] on the y-chromosomes of men in Abergele have revealed that there is a significant percentage of E1b1b1a2 haplogroup in Abergele. Membership in Y chromosome haplogroup E1b1b1a2 (E-V13) was found to average at 38.97% in a small sample of 18 male y-chromosomes in Abergele. This genetic marker is found at its highest concentrations in the Balkans at over 40% in areas, but at much lower percentages in Northern Europe at less than 5%. The reason for drastically higher levels of E1b1b in Abergele is most likely due to the heavy Roman Army presence in Abergele as most of the Roman Soldiers that came to Britain did not come from Italy, but from other parts of the Roman Empire. Other notable levels of genetic marker E-V13 have been found in a few other towns in Britain that were known to have had a heavy Roman presence nearly 2000 years ago. [11]

Notable people

Related Research Articles

Denbighshire County and Principal area in Wales

Denbighshire is a county in north-east Wales, named after the historic county of Denbighshire, but with substantially different borders. Denbighshire is the longest known inhabited part of Wales. Pontnewydd (Bontnewydd-Llanelwy) Palaeolithic site has Neanderthal remains from 225,000 years ago. Its several castles include Denbigh, Rhuddlan, Ruthin, Castell Dinas Bran and Bodelwyddan. St Asaph, one of the smallest cities in Britain, has one of the smallest Anglican cathedrals. Denbighshire has a length of coast to the north and hill ranges to the east, south and west. In the central part, the River Clwyd has created a broad fertile valley. It is primarily a rural county with little industry. Crops are grown in the Vale of Clwyd and cattle and sheep reared in the uplands. The coast attracts summer tourists, and hikers frequent the Clwydian Range, which forms an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with the upper Dee Valley. Llangollen hosts the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in each July.

Denbighshire (historic) former county in Wales

Historic Denbighshire is one of thirteen traditional counties in Wales, a vice-county and a former administrative county, which covers an area in north east Wales. It is a maritime county, bounded to the north by the Irish Sea, to the east by Flintshire, Cheshire and Shropshire, to the south by Montgomeryshire and Merionethshire, and to the west by Caernarfonshire.

The Vale of Clwyd(Welsh: Dyffryn Clwyd) is a tract of low-lying ground in the county of Denbighshire in northeast Wales. The Vale extends south-southwestwards from the coast of the Irish Sea for some 20 miles forming a triangle of low ground bounded on its eastern side by the well-defined scarp of the Clwydian Range and to the west by numerous low hills. The River Clwyd (Welsh: Afon Clwyd) which rises within Clocaenog Forest, southwest of Denbigh, runs the full length of the vale. It is joined by the two major left bank tributaries of the River Clywedog (Welsh: Afon Clywedog) and River Elwy (Welsh: Afon Elwy) and the smaller right bank tributary of the River Wheeler (Welsh: Afon Chwiler).

Mark Baker is an architectural historian, an author of several books on country houses, estates and their families, and a politician. Baker has contributed to several minor television series and programmes. He became a Welsh Conservative Party councillor for Gele in May 2017.

The Vale of Clwyd and Conwy Football League is a football league formed in 1973 following the amalgamation of the Dyserth League and the Halkyn Mountain League. The Premier Division is in the fifth level of the Welsh football league system in North Wales.

Llanddulas village in Wales

Llanddulas is a village in Conwy county borough, Wales, midway between Old Colwyn and Abergele and next to the North Wales Expressway in the community of Llanddulas and Rhyd-y-Foel. The village lies beneath the limestone hill of Cefn-yr-Ogof (670 ft). This hill has large caves, and quarrying of limestone was formerly the main industry of the village, with crushed stone being exported from the 200 m long jetty.

Kinmel Bay village in the United Kingdom

Kinmel Bay is a seaside resort in Conwy County Borough, north-east Wales. It is also an electoral ward to the county council and town council. The town of Rhyl lies just across the River Clwyd in the neighbouring county of Denbighshire.

Castell Cawr hillfort in Conwy

Castell Cawr, or Tan-y-Gopa as it is known locally, is a heavily forested hill above the town of Abergele in Conwy county borough, Wales. On it is found the Iron Age hillfort of Castell Cawr, which overlooks the River Clwyd. Rare lesser horseshoe bats inhabit caves on the hill. The woods are owned by the Woodland Trust. The hill rises to 189 m (620 ft) above sea level, with extensive views to Snowdonia and the Clwydian Range.

Mynydd y Dref mountain in United Kingdom

Mynydd y Dref or Conwy Mountain is a hilly area to the west of the town of Conwy, in North Wales. To the north it overlooks the sea of Conwy Bay, and to the south lie the foothills of the Carneddau range of mountains, of which it forms a part. Mynydd y Dref is the remains of an ancient volcano that erupted about 450 million years ago.

Rhyd y Foel village in Wales

Rhyd-y-foel is a small village near the coast of north Wales in the area of Rhos in the County Borough of Conwy, Wales.

The 2009–10 FAW Welsh Cup was the 123rd edition of the annual knockout tournament for competitive football teams in Wales, excluding those who play in the English League System. The 2009–10 tournament commenced on 14 August 2009 and concluded at Parc y Scarlets on 1 May 2010. Bangor City won the cup with a 3–2 win against Port Talbot Town.

The 2001–02 Welsh Alliance League is the 18th season of the Welsh Alliance League, which is in the third level of the Welsh football pyramid.

Kinmel Bay and Towyn community in Conwy Borough, Wales

Kinmel Bay and Towyn is a community in Conwy County Borough, in Wales. It is located on the coast bordering Denbighshire, from which it is separated by the River Clwyd, and is 2.6 miles (4.2 km) west of Rhyl, 2.5 miles (4.0 km) north east of Abergele and 14.1 miles (22.7 km) east of Conwy. The community includes the holiday resorts of Kinmel Bay and Towyn. It is crossed by the Afon Gele, which flows from west to east, before joining the River Clwyd on the eastern boundary. At the 2001 census the community had a population of 7,864, increasing to 8,460 at the 2011 census. Before being named Kinmel Bay there was a small settlement called Foryd, which is the name of the bridge crossing into Rhyl. The area is very Anglicized, with well over half the population having been born in England.

Llanddoged and Maenan

Llanddoged and Maenan is a community in Conwy County Borough, in Wales. It is located in the Conwy Valley, on the eastern bank of the River Conwy, 2.3 miles (3.7 km) north east of Llanrwst, 15.7 miles (25.3 km) south west of Abergele and 13.3 miles (21.4 km) south of Conwy. The community includes the village of Llanddoged and the rural settlements around Maenan. At the 2001 census it had a population of 574, increasing to 602 at the 2011 census.

Llanddulas and Rhyd-y-foel community in Conwy Borough Council

Llanddulas and Rhyd-y-foel is a community in Conwy County Borough, in Wales. It is located on the coast of Liverpool Bay, at the mouth of the Afon Dulas, 2.7 miles (4.3 km) west of Abergele, 3.6 miles (5.8 km) east of Colwyn Bay and 9.0 miles (14.5 km) east of Conwy. As the name suggests, it consists of the villages of Llanddulas and Rhyd-y-foel. At the 2001 census the community had a population of 1,572, reducing slightly to 1,542 at the 2011 census.

Gele (electoral ward)

Gele is the name of one of the electoral wards in the town and community of Abergele, Conwy County Borough, Wales. It covers the southern part of the town and a more rural area to the southeast including the settlement of St George. It takes its name from the River Gele which runs through the western part of the ward.


  1. Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Conwy
  2. "Pensarn national identity". neighbourhood statistics. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  3. The Annals of Wales (B text), p. 10.
  4. Charles-Edwards, T.M. "The Heir-Apparent in Irish and Welsh Law". Celtica , Vol. 9, p. 18090. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1971. Accessed 27 Feb 2013.
  5. A brief history of Gwrych Castle, Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, archived from the original on 28 February 2009, retrieved 14 March 2009
  6. What is the Castle Trust?, Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, archived from the original on 18 February 2009, retrieved 14 March 2009
  7. Black, Adam and Charles (1857), Black's Picturesque Guide to North Wales, p. 30
  8. "Abergele Hospital, Abergele". National Archives. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  9. "Abergele Hospital". Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  10. Y Chromosome Evidence for Anglo-Saxon Mass Migration (PDF), 25 January 2002, retrieved 5 November 2006
  11. Bird, Steven (2007), "Haplogroup E3b1a2 as a Possible Indicator of Settlement in Roman Britain by Soldiers of Balkan Origin", Journal of Genetic Genealogy, 3 (2), retrieved 10 November 2008