A LITTLE HISTORY ABOUT CORWEN OLD POLICE STATION AND COURT HOUSE:
The Merioneth Constabulary was formed in c.1857 and arranged into divisions, one of which included Corwen. These divisions maintained records including crime registers, summons books, registers of charges, accident books and visits books. They also dealt with such matters as collection of rates, road surveying, weights and measures inspection and dealing with vagrants under the Poor Law legislation. Corwen Police Station and Courthouse were purpose built in 1871, the site having been acquired in 1869 for “the provision of a police station with four cells, apartments for a constable and a Justice’s room”.
The building was to accommodate the functions of police administration, cells for the short-term holding of prisoners and living accommodation for a resident constable.
It is not known precisely at what stage in the design and construction process the constable was appointed – it is more than likely that he was already in office (we know that Sergeant Hugh Williams was one of the “principle inhabitants” of Corwen; he attended a public dinner at the Owain Glyndwr Hotel on Thursday 22nd September 1864 to celebrate the opening of the Corwen and Ruthin railway). When the police station was completed in 1871, Sergeant Hugh Williams occupied the living quarters together with his wife and no less than 10 children!
During the early years of Peel’s “New Police”, vagrancy would have been one of the commonest reasons for arresting and detaining a prisoner. Being a staging post on the main road and, later, rail routes to the north and west coasts of Wales, Corwen must have seen more than its fair share of vagrants and itinerants passing through. Perhaps a more tolerant attitude towards vagrancy was already evolving by the time the police station was built, as evidenced by the Corwen Poor Law Union Board of Guardians erecting in 1894 a vagrants’ “bothy” opposite their imposing 150-inmate workhouse of 1840 situated a few yards along London Road from the police station.
It appears that for about 100 years both buildings remained in use with little alteration. However, in the 1970s the police and court functions were transferred elsewhere and, after a few years of lying vacant, the buildings were sold into private hands, following which they were altered into one large guest house. Despite the internal conversion, the property was Grade II listed in 1995 and many of its original features still remained.
Caroline and Peter bought the property in November 2010; both the Old Police Station and Court House were re-established, each requiring extensive alteration and renovation which allowed for reinstatement of lost elements and incorporation of modern facilities into the design. Their hard work and attention to detail has transformed the building into a truly unique place to stay, a project that they know will not only enhance but also preserve the character of this noted historical building within Corwen.
HISTORIC SITES IN THE AREA:
To the north, across the Dee, is the huge hill fort of Caer Drewyn, built around 800 BC. Caer Derwyn was used by the 12th century Welsh hero, Owain Gwynedd, and two centuries later it was at Caer Drewyn that Owain Glyndwr is said to have assembled his army to launch his rebellion against the English crown. Glyndwr himself lived just east of Corwen, and he is remembered with a striking equestrian statue in the town square, across from the hotel which bears his name.
This massive Iron Age hill fort is set on the slope of a hill overlooking the attractive town of Corwen and the meandering River Dee. Unlike most hill forts, Caer Drewyn has walls of stone, rather than the more typical earthen banks and ditches. The fort is composed of a huge rampart with entrances on the north-east and south.
Nearby Rug Chapel is a highly decorated 17th century private chapel with carved angels, a decorated timber roof, and a magnificent collection of other carvings and extravagant paintings.
Rug was established as a private chapel by Colonel William Salisbury in 1637. Colonel Salisbury, who was known as 'Old Blue Stockings', later led the defence of Denbigh Castle for the Royalist cause. He obviously had no affinity for the then-fashionable Puritanical ideals of simplicity and lack of adornment, for he decorated his chapel with the most wonderful array of paintings and woodcarvings. Almost no surface of the chapel interior was left untouched, and the result is simply astonishing, whatever your preferences for church interiors!
Llangar Church is a remote and rustic parish church, remodelled in the early 18th century. The interior features many ancient features including extensive 15th century wall painting, a 17th century figure, old beams and box pews, pulpit and minstrels' gallery. Without doubt one of the most interesting historic churches in the north of Wales, this ancient riverside church is situated on a sloping site on the east bank of the River Dee, near its confluence with the Alwen about a mile south of Corwen, and retains an air of peaceful slumber and no little mystery.
THE STORY OF OWAIN GLYNDWR:
Owain Glyndŵr lived over 600 years ago and was responsible for one of the most dramatic episodes in Welsh history. On 16 September 1400 Owain Glyndŵr proclaimed himself Prince of Wales at Glyndyfrdwy, a motte and moated site near the town of Corwen – an area which is now a
Scheduled Ancient Monument. Welshmen from all walks of life flocked to join Owain's cause - a national revolt against the English crown and the vision of an independent Wales. By 1403 nearly the whole of Wales was united behind Glyndŵr. However, despite astounding early victories and the formal coronation of Glyndŵr as Prince of Wales at the parliament of 1404, the rebellion ultimately failed and by 1408 was dwindling as swiftly as it had swept into being. By 1410, its inspirational leader had become a fugitive, his career and his reputation shattered, his home and his family destroyed.
THE CROSSROADS OF NORTH WALES:
Corwen is often called the 'Crossroads of North Wales', a testament to its history as a major stopping place on the old drove roads used by cattle drivers and on the main stagecoach route between Holyhead and London. The town is set in a lovely location between the Berwyn hills and the River Dee.
The history of the A5 begins with the Act of Union 1800, which unified Great Britain and Ireland:
Set in a lovely location between the Berwyn Hills and the River Dee, Corwen is often called the 'Crossroads of North Wales', a testament to its history as a major stopping place on the old drove roads used by cattle drivers and on the main stagecoach route between Holyhead and London - now known as the A5.
The background to the construction of this historically-significant road begins with the Act of Union 1800, which unified Great Britain and Ireland:
The government saw a need to improve communication links between London and Dublin. An Act of Parliament of 1815 authorised the purchase of existing turnpike road interests, and, where necessary, the construction of new road, to complete the route between the two capitals. This made it the first major civilian state-funded road building project in Britain since Roman times. Responsibility for establishing the new route was awarded to the famous engineer, Thomas Telford. From Shrewsbury and through Wales, Telford's work was extensive; in places he followed existing roads, but he also built new links, including the Menai Suspension Bridge to connect the mainland with Anglesey. Telford's road was complete with the opening of the Menai Suspension Bridge in 1826.
The road was designed to allow stagecoaches and the Mail coach to carry post between London and Holyhead, and thence by mail boat to Ireland. Therefore throughout its length the gradient never exceeds 1:20 (5%).The route through Wales retains many of the original features of Telford's road and has, since 1995, been recognised as a historic route worthy of preservation. These features include many surviving and distinctive toll houses, 'depots' along the route, being roadside alcoves to store grit and materials, distinctive milestones at each mile - many originals having survived and been restored, others now replaced by replicas, distinctive gates in a 'sunburst' design, a few of which have survived.
LLANGOLLEN STEAM RAILWAY:
In the 1860s Corwen was linked to the national rail network by a line from Ruthin along the Vale of Clwyd and with a Great Western Railway branch line along the Dee valley from Ruabon. Unfortunately neither survived the Beeching Axe in the 1960s.
In September 1975 an open day saw 60 feet of track re-laid and the Llangollen Heritage Steam Railway was born. It is currently the longest preserved standard gauge railway in Wales, operating daily in summer and weekends throughout the winter months, using a variety of steam and diesel locomotives, as well as diesel multiple units.
The Llangollen Railway has now extended their line to the new Corwen Station Dwyrain East.