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The Station Masters old house and Tonfanau Quarry - - 332810.jpg
The Station Master's old house and Tonfanau quarry
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Location within Gwynedd
OS grid reference SH 56154 03798
Principal area
Ceremonial county
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town TYWYN
Postcode district LL36
Dialling code 01654
Police North Wales
Fire North Wales
Ambulance Welsh
UK Parliament
Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament
List of places
52°36′45.1″N4°07′29.2″W / 52.612528°N 4.124778°W / 52.612528; -4.124778 Coordinates: 52°36′45.1″N4°07′29.2″W / 52.612528°N 4.124778°W / 52.612528; -4.124778

Tonfanau is a coastal village in the community of Llangelynin, in Gwynedd (formerly Merionethshire), Wales. It is 2.4 miles (3.9 km) north of Tywyn. The village is served by Tonfanau railway station.


During the Second World War an army base was created near the village. Around 600 men were stationed at the camp, which specialised in training personnel in anti-aircraft artillery.

Until 1992, a granite quarry existed to the north of the village.

All Arms Junior Leaders' Regiment

From May 1959 until August 1966 the camp was the home of the All Arms Junior Leaders' Regiment (A.A.J.L.R.). [1]


From 1968 the camp was one of the designated sites for plan PYTHON, the plan for continuity of government in the event of nuclear war. It was only the temporary PYTHON site for Wales and Aberystwyth University became the designated site soon after.

Refugee Camp

In 1972, eight years after closing in 1966, the base was reopened and used as a refugee centre. Over 3,000 Ugandan Asians, fleeing from persecution by Idi Amin, were housed there for six months before being settled elsewhere. [2] [3]

Motor Racing

There is a one mile long racing circuit named after the village which is mainly used for motorbike races, although car racing is also done on the track. [4]


Tonfanau Railway Station is located on the Transport For Wales Cambrian Line. It has close connections to Birmingham (New St), Shrewsbury, Llandudno, and Aberystwyth. The next station south is Tywyn, and the next station north is Llwyngwril.

Granite Quarry

In 1892, a group of local miners opened a granite quarry to the north of the village. Among them was William Williams Jones, who was a draper from Tywyn and attempted to open many quarries in the district among them were Dolgoch quarry, Melinllynpair quarry, and Nantcynog quarry (which were all unsuccessful [5] Tonfanau quarry was his only enduring mining venture). [6]

During the First World War, several German prisoners of war (who were being housed in Towyn) worked at the quarry between June 1918 and November 1919 (after which they were transferred to Frongoch internment camp near Bala); one of them experienced a fatal accident they died from the injuries in Machynlleth Cottage Hospital. [7]

The quarry closed in 1998, 106 years after opening. [6]

See also

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  1. The Tonfanau Camp Archived 2013-08-21 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Brief mention of the centre on the BBC website
  3. "40th Anniversary for Ugandan Asian refugees in Wales". 1 August 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  4. Circuit website
  5. "TOWYN Obituary". The Cambrian News and Merionethshire Standard. John Askew Roberts, Edward Woodall & Richard Henry Venables. 18 September 1903. hdl:10107/3320029 . Retrieved 22 December 2020 via Welsh Newspapers Online.
  6. 1 2 Castellan, Eddie (December 2018). "Slates in the Shadows: The Talyllyn's lost quarries". Talyllyn News (The quarterly newsletter of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society). No. 260. pp. 39–42.
  7. "TOWYN German Prisoners". The Cambrian News and Merionethshire Standard. John Askew Roberts, Edward Woodall & Richard Henry Venables. 7 November 1919. hdl:10107/3414942 . Retrieved 22 December 2020 via Welsh Newspapers Online.