Bala, Gwynedd

Last updated

Bala High Street.jpg
Bala high street
Gwynedd UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Gwynedd
Population1,974 (2011)
OS grid reference SH925359
  Cardiff 142.3 miles
  London 207 miles
  • Bala
Principal area
Ceremonial county
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Historic county
Post town BALA
Postcode district LL23
Dialling code 01678
Police North Wales
Fire North Wales
Ambulance Welsh
UK Parliament
Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament
List of places
52°54′40″N3°35′46″W / 52.911°N 3.596°W / 52.911; -3.596 Coordinates: 52°54′40″N3°35′46″W / 52.911°N 3.596°W / 52.911; -3.596

Bala (Welsh : Y Bala) is a town and community in Gwynedd, Wales. Formerly an urban district, Bala lies in the historic county of Merionethshire, at the north end of Llyn Tegid. At the 2011 Census, it had a population of 1,974, [1] [2] 78.5% of whom spoke Welsh. [3] [4]



The Welsh word bala refers to the outflow of a lake. [5]


Tomen y Bala Tomen y Bala - a Norman motte - - 462982.jpg
Tomen y Bala
Coleg y Bala Coleg y Bala - - 572350.jpg
Coleg y Bala
Neuadd y Cyfnod (English: Period Hall. Formerly the grammar school) Neuadd y Cyfnod, Bala - - 432755.jpg
Neuadd y Cyfnod (English: Period Hall. Formerly the grammar school)
Rev. Thomas Charles Bala - The Rev. Thomas Charles B.A. - - 408431.jpg
Rev. Thomas Charles

The Tower of Bala (Welsh: Tomen y Bala) (30 feet (9 m) high by 50 feet (15 m) diameter) is a tumulus or "moat-hill", formerly thought to mark the site of a Roman camp.

In the 18th century, the town was well known for the manufacture of flannel, stockings, gloves and hosiery.

The large stone-built theological college, Coleg Y Bala, of the Calvinistic Methodists and the grammar school, which was founded in 1712, are the chief features, together with the statue of the Rev. Thomas Charles (1755–1814), the theological writer, to whom was largely due the foundation of the British and Foreign Bible Society. [2]

In 1800 a 15-year-old girl, Mary Jones, walked the 25 miles (40 km) from her home village Llanfihangel-y-Pennant to purchase a Welsh bible in Bala. The scarcity of the Bible, along with the determination of Mary to get one (she had saved for six years), was a major factor in the foundation of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804.

Betsi Cadwaladr, who worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea, and who gave her name to the Health Board, came from Bala. Other famous people from the Bala area include Michael D. Jones, Christopher Timothy, Owen Morgan Edwards, born in Llanuwchllyn, and T.E. Ellis, born in Cefnddwysarn.

Bala hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1967, 1997 and 2009. The 2009 Eisteddfod was notable because the chair was not awarded to any of the entrants as the standard was deemed to be too low. [6] Bala hosted the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yr Urdd Gobaith Cymru, National Eisteddfod for the Welsh League of Youth, in 2014. On 16 June 2016, Bala's name was changed to Bale temporarily in honour of Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale. This was only for the duration of UEFA Euro 2016. [7]


Bala, Ontario, Canada, was named after the town in 1868. They have become twin towns.


Set within the Bala Fault, Llyn Tegid is the largest natural lake in Wales at 3.7 miles (6.0 km) in length and 800 m wide. At 35 metres, its depths could hide the tower of St Giles Church in Wrexham and still have 1 metre of water above. The lake has occasionally been known to freeze over, most recently in the severe winters of 1947 and 1963. The rare Gwyniad fishtrapped in the lake at the end of the last Ice Age, some 10,000 years agois in danger because its natural home is increasingly unsuitable. [8] A member of the whitefish family, it is found only in Bala Lake.

Cwm Hirnant, a valley running south from Bala, gives its name to the Hirnantian Age in the Ordovician Period of geological time.

The closest major urban areas to Bala are Wrexham at 30 miles (48 km), Chester at 40 miles (64 km), and Liverpool, 52 miles (84 km) to the northeast. Nearby villages include Llanfor, Llandderfel, Llanycil, Llangower, Llanuwchllyn, Rhyd-uchaf and Rhos-y-gwaliau.


As with the rest of the UK, Bala benefits from a maritime climate, with limited seasonal temperature ranges, and generally moderate rainfall throughout the year.

Climate data for Bala 163 m, 1971–2000
Average high °C (°F)6.7
Average low °C (°F)0.9
Source: YR.NO [9]
Climate data for Bala (163m elevation) 1981–2010
Average high °C (°F)7.0
Average low °C (°F)1.0
Average rainfall mm (inches)154.8
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)17.012.415.412.
Mean monthly sunshine hours 31.956.683.5135.1168.1149.9155.2145.4109.881.840.824.51,182.3
Source: [10]
Bala Mill Falls (lower Tryweryn) Bala Mill Falls - - 1231649.jpg
Bala Mill Falls (lower Tryweryn)


The Afon Tryweryn, a river fed from Llyn Celyn which runs through Bala, is world-famous for its white water kayaking. International governing bodies, the International Canoe Federation, the European Canoe Union and the British Canoe Union all hold national and international events there. The Canolfan Tryweryn National Whitewater Centre has its home in Bala. There are at least three local campsites that cater for the influx of canoeists from many parts of the world.

An annual music festival known as 'Wa Bala' is also held in the town. The venue hosts local Welsh bands and is similar in format to Dolgellau's Sesiwn Fawr.

Nearby are the mountains Aran Fawddwy and Arenig Fawr.

Coleg y Bala is at the top of the hill on the road towards Llyn Celyn. The Victoria Hall is a small old cinema, that had been a community hall. There are several chapels: notably Capel Mawr and Capel Bach. The livestock market on Arenig Street is still going strong. Bro Eryl estate was built just after World War II. Mary Jones World, a heritage centre about Mary Jones and her Bible is located just outside the town in nearby Llanycil.


Railway stations in Bala
BSicon WDOCKSm.svg
BSicon WDOCKSm.svg
BSicon exCONTg.svg
BSicon WDOCKSm.svg
BSicon WDOCKSm.svg
BSicon exBHF.svg
Bala (New)
BSicon WDOCKSm.svg
BSicon WDOCKSrf.svg
BSicon exSTR.svg
BSicon exSTR.svg
BSicon uCONTgq.svg
BSicon uKBHFeq.svg
BSicon exSTRq.svg
BSicon exABZql.svg
BSicon exBHFq.svg
BSicon exCONTfq.svg
Bala Junction

Bala has been served by various railway stations on the Great Western Railway: [11]

The Bala Lake Railway (Welsh : Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid) runs for 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from Llanuwchllyn to the edge of the town, along a section of the former trackbed of the Great Western Railway's line between Ruabon and Barmouth. It terminates at Bala (Penybont) railway station, which opened in 1976 on the site of the former Lake Halt station. As of 2020, work is being undertaken to extend the line along the lake foreshore to a new station in the town center. [12]

Bus services are provided by Lloyds Coaches, as part of the Welsh Government funded TrawsCymru network. Services operate westbound to Barmouth via Dolgellau, and eastbound to Wrexham via Corwen and Llangollen. Through ticketing is available for onward connections at Dolgellau, to Bangor, Machynlleth and Aberystwyth.

The town lies on the A494, a major trunk road that leads to Dolgellau, 18 miles to the southwest, and to Ruthin, Mold and Queensferry to the northwest. The A4212 starts in the town, and crosses the Migneint to Trawsfynydd. Heading southeast, the B4391 crosses the Berwyn range to the English border and the town of Oswestry.


Bala is home to Welsh Premier League football club Bala Town F.C. who play at Maes Tegid. Bala's local rugby club is Bala RFC.

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

Snowdonia Region in north Wales

Snowdonia is a mountainous region in northwestern Wales and a national park of 823 square miles (2,130 km2) in area. It was the first to be designated of the three national parks in Wales, in 1951. It contains the highest peaks in the United Kingdom outside Scotland.

Bala Lake A lake in Gwynedd,Snowdonia, Wales

Bala Lake is a large freshwater glacial lake in Gwynedd, Wales. The River Dee, which has its source on the slopes of Dduallt in the mountains of Snowdonia, feeds the 3.7 miles (6.0 km) long by 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide lake. It was the largest natural body of water in Wales before its level was raised by Thomas Telford to provide water for the Ellesmere Canal.

Dolgellau Human settlement in Wales

Dolgellau is a town and community in Gwynedd, north-west Wales, lying on the River Wnion, a tributary of the River Mawddach. It is traditionally the county town of the historic county of Merionethshire, which lost its administrative status when Gwynedd was created in 1974. Dolgellau is the main base for climbers of Cadair Idris. Although very small, it is the second largest settlement in Southern Gwynedd after Tywyn. The community includes Penmaenpool.

North Wales geographic region in Wales

North Wales, also known as the North of Wales, is a geographic region of Wales, encompassing its northernmost areas. It borders Mid Wales to the south, England to the east, and the Irish Sea to the north and west. The area is highly mountainous and rural, with Snowdonia National Park and the Clwydian Range, known for its mountains, waterfalls and trails, located wholly within the region. Its population is more concentrated in the north-east, and northern coastal areas of the region, whilst significant Welsh-speaking populations are situated in its western and rural areas. North Wales is imprecisely defined, lacking any defined defintion or administrative structure. For the public purposes of health, policing and emergency services, and for statistical, economic and cultural purposes, North Wales is commonly defined administratively as its six most northern principal areas, but other defintions of the geographic region exist, with Montgomeryshire historically considered to be part of the region.

Bala Lake Railway

The Bala Lake Railway is a narrow-gauge railway along the southern shore of Bala Lake in Gwynedd, North Wales. The line, which is 4+12 miles (7.2 km) long, is built on a section of the former standard-gauge Ruabon–Barmouth GWR route that closed in 1965. Another section of the former permanent way is used by the Llangollen Railway. The Bala Lake Railway, which runs on 600 mm -gauge preserved rolling stock, is a member of the Great Little Trains of Wales.

Afon Tryweryn River in the United Kingdom

The Tryweryn is a river in the north of Wales which starts at Llyn Tryweryn in the Snowdonia National Park and after 19 kilometres (12 mi) joins the river Dee at Bala. It is one of the main tributaries of the Dee and it was dammed in 1965 to form Llyn Celyn, drowning the village of Capel Celyn in spite of much popular and political opposition in Wales. The resulting graffito "Cofiwch Dryweryn" near Llanrhystud became and remains a popular icon of Welsh feeling. Water is stored in Llyn Celyn in winter when flows are high, and released over the summer to maintain the flow in the Dee (water from the Dee is used as the water supply for large areas of north-east Wales, and for the Wirral and much of Liverpool in England.

Llyn Celyn Reservoir in the United Kingdom

Llyn Celyn[ɬɨ̞n ˈkɛlɨ̞n] is a reservoir constructed between 1960 and 1965 in the valley of the River Tryweryn in Gwynedd, Wales. It measures roughly 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long by 1 mile (1.6 km) wide, and has a maximum depth of 140 ft (43 m). It has the capacity to hold 71,200,000 cubic metres (93,100,000 cu yd) of water.

Capel Celyn Human settlement in Wales

Capel Celyn was a rural community to the north west of Bala in Gwynedd, Wales, in the Afon Tryweryn valley. The village and other parts of the valley were flooded in 1965 to create a reservoir, Llyn Celyn, in order to supply Liverpool and Wirral with water for industry. Capel is Welsh for chapel, while celyn is Welsh for holly.

A494 road

The A494 is a trunk road in Wales and England. The route, which is officially known as the Dolgellau to South of Birkenhead Trunk Road, runs between the terminus of the M56 motorway between Mollington and Capenhurst and the A470 at Dolgellau, Gwynedd. Its northern sections remain among the busiest roads in Wales.

Llanuwchllyn Human settlement in Wales

Llanuwchllyn is a village and community in Gwynedd, Wales, near the southern end of Bala Lake. It is one of the most sparsely populated communities in Wales.

The Ruabon–Barmouth line was a standard-gauge line owned by the Great Western Railway across the north of Wales which connected Ruabon, in the east, with Barmouth on the west coast.

The Bala and Festiniog Railway was a 4 ft 8+12 in, standard gauge, railway backed by the Great Western Railway (GWR) in north-west Wales. It connected Bala with Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Frongoch railway station Disused railway station in Gwynedd, Wales

Frongoch railway station served the village of Frongoch on the Great Western Railway's Bala Ffestiniog Line in Gwynedd, Wales.

Trawsfynydd Lake Halt was a solely passenger railway station near the northeastern tip of Llyn Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd, Wales. Many Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century institutions in Wales were given anglicised names, this station being one. Over the years, and especially since the Second World War, most have been rendered into Welsh or given both Welsh and English names. Trawsfynydd Lake Halt closed before this happened.

Bala (Penybont) railway station Railway station in Gwynedd, Wales

Bala Lake Halt railway station in Gwynedd, Wales, was formerly a station on the Ruabon to Barmouth line.

Urdd National Eisteddfod

The Urdd National Eisteddfod is an annual Welsh-language youth festival of literature, music and performing arts organised by Urdd Gobaith Cymru. Arguably Europe's largest youth festival, it is usually held during the last week of May, coinciding with schools' half term holiday. Locations alternate between north and south Wales. The Eisteddfod consists of competitive singing, recitation, art, composition, dance and instrumental events for contestants aged between 7 and 24 years. Regional qualifying heats are held in advance around Wales.

Ifor Owen was a Welsh educator who was notable for writing, illustrating and publishing Hwyl, the first children's comic book in the Welsh language.

Bryn-Celynog Halt was an unstaffed solely passenger railway station which served the rural area of Bryn-Celynog, east of Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd, Wales.

Cwm Prysor Halt railway station Disused railway station in Gwynedd, Wales

Cwm Prysor Halt was a railway station which served the remote rural area of Cwm Prysor, east of Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd, Wales.

There are a large number of reservoirs in Wales reflecting the need for the supply of water for both industry and for consumption, both within the country itself and in neighbouring England. A number also provide hydroelectricity and many old reservoirs also provided motive power for industries, especially for the processing of minerals such as metal ores and slate.


  1. "Area: Bala. Key Figures for People and Society: Population and Migration". ONS. ONS. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  2. 1 2 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bala". Encyclopædia Britannica . 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 231.
  3. "Welsh speakers by electoral division, 2011 Census". Stats Wales. Stats Wales. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  4. "Area: Bala. Welsh Language Profile, 2011 (KS208WA)". ONS. ONS. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  5. Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru. a–baldog. University of Wales. 2006. p. 648. Archived from the original on 28 December 2005. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  6. "No-one worthy of eisteddfod chair". BBC News . 7 August 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  7. [ bare URL ]
  8. Freyhof, J. & Kottelat, M. 2008. Coregonus pennantii. In: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.1. Downloaded on 17 April 2010.
  9. "Climate Normals 1971–2000". YR.NO. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  10. "Climate Normals 1981–2010". Met Office. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  11. Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN   978-1-85260-508-7. OCLC   60251199.
    Jowett, Alan (March 1989). Jowett's Railway Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland: From Pre-Grouping to the Present Day (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN   978-1-85260-086-0. OCLC   22311137.
    Jowett, Alan (2000). Jowett's Nationalised Railway Atlas (1st ed.). Penryn, Cornwall: Atlantic Transport Publishers. ISBN   978-0-906899-99-1. OCLC   228266687.
  12. // Downloaded on 16 April 2020.