THE ROLE OF LANDOWNERS, ENTREPRENEURS AND RAILWAYS IN THE URBAN DEVELOPMENT OF THE NORTH WALES COAST DURING THE NINETEENTH CENTURY' FROM Stuart times it was fashionable to 'take the waters' at the spa towns of Bath and Tunbridge Wells, and later others. In Wales, after it was linked to the railways, Llandrindod Wells also benefitted from this aspect of the tourist trade.2 Along the coasts, houses which were built by the seashore 'turned their backs resolutely upon the ocean: the sea was part of their backyard, a kind of infinitely enlarged cesspit'.3 The development of the seaside resort received a significant boost when, in 1783, the Prince Regent was advised to try sea bathing at Brighton to cure his swollen glands. The success of the treatment resulted in the Prince having a great affection for the resort and this created a fashionable demand for sea-side holiday resorts generally throughout Britain.5 The demand for land by the sea, for purposes other than agriculture, caused stresses in a hierarchial society which had maintained the status quo for generations. The requirements of a newly created property owning middle class produced challenges to the authority of the local landowning elites. During the nineteenth century, the hamlets along the north Wales coast were transformed from small mining, fishing and rural communities into thriving, urbanized resorts, dependent upon the tourist trade. Comparisons with similar changes elsewhere in Britain could be made, and it is particularly relevant to study those taking place on the Lancashire coast, across Liverpool Bay. These resorts were in direct competition with towns on the north Wales coast for the tourist market created by the employees of the developing cotton, wollen and engineering industries of Lancashire and west Yorkshire. I wish to acknowledge the help I have received from Neil Evans, Coleg Harlech, in reading the initial draft of this article and suggesting an examination of further sources, and from Dr. W. P. Griffith and D. W. Williams for their comments. I am grateful also to the staff of Clwyd Record Offices at Hawarden and Ruthin, the archives department at University College, Bangor, and the reference libraries at Ruthin and Llandudno. 2 I. E. Jones, 'The Swydd Neithon Enclosure and the Development of Llandrindod Wells', The Radnorshire Society Transactions, 1973, p. 24. 3 James Laver, Taste and Fashion (London, 1937), p. 216. 4 J. B. Priestley, The Prince of Pleasure (London, 1969), p. 249. A H. Dodd, "The Rise of the North Wales Coastal Resorts' Transactions of the N.U.T. Conference (1939).
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