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The History of Aberaeron

The Town Trail

Llanerchaeron - National Trust Country House near Aberaeron

Local Walks

Locally produced Food and Drink

Places to visit from Aberaeron

Cardigan Bay

Fishing in the area - Sea and Freshwater

Dolphins in Cardigan Bay


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The Aberaeron Town Trail

The Town Trail was opened in 2007 and celebrates the bicentennial of the Act of Parliament that allowed the building of the harbour by the Rev Alban Thomas Jones Gwynne. The harbour was completed in 1811 by William Green of Aberystwyth and Edward Ellis. The architect William Haycock was employed by Colonel Alban Gwynne, son of the Rev Alban Thomas Jones Gwynne to design the layout of the town around Alban Square. Click here for a more detailed history of Aberaeron.

1. General Storehouse

Now the Tourist Office, this former storehouse is one of the earliest buildings along the quay.  In the 19th century it stored goods brought in by ship and was later
used as a mortuary.

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2. Harbourmaster's House

This was the first building to be built along the Quay in about 1812. In the 1950s it was the Red Lion public house. Today it is the Harbourmaster Hotel.

3.Spiller's Flour Warehouse

The original house on this site is said to have burned down. The warehouse built in its place was used by Spillers in the early 1900s and was used to store flour brought in by ship from Cardiff.  This building housed an Aquarium until recently, now it is part of the Habourmaster Hotel.

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4. Steam Packet Company

The Steam Navigation Company was established here in 1863 but went into liquidation when its ship the Prince Cadwgan, captained by John Evans of Milford House, was lost in 1876. The Aberayron Steam Packet Company was established in 1877 and ran steam ships on the milk run to Bristol. Payments were made at the harbourmaster’s office until December 1916. Today this building is the Pen Cei Guest House.

5. Warehouse and Coal Yard

This warehouse was built around1840 and used to store chippings, as well as being a ships’ chandlery and a coal wharf. Today this area is the 'Hive on the Quay' and 'Fish on the Quay'. This old photo shows the yard before it was converted into a restaurant and fishmongers.

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6. Milford House

Originally the site of Aberaeron Isaf (Lower Aberaeron) farmhouse this was the home of Captain John Evans who built the Carriage Bach to transport workers across the harbour to South Beach where the shipyards and his sawmill were situated, after the main bridge was destroyed by a flood. It was formerly a tavern known as Milford Tavern and the house to the left was a tavern called the Ship on Launch.

The 'Aeron Express' or 'Carriage Bach'

Southern landing stage

On the other side of the harbour can be seen the landing stage for the 'Aeron Express' or 'Carriage Bach'. This device ferried passengers across the harbour from 1880 until 1931. It was set up by Captain John Evans of Milford House to ferry workers across the harbour from the 'Birkenhead Quay' - the south quay to the 'Liverpool Quay' or north quay as the old bridge had been destroyed at this time. Captain Evans charged a halfpenny to ferry each person. The bridge was rebuilt in 1881 / 1882.

7. Weigh House

From 1800 to 1900 the Weigh House was used for weighing lime. The lime was
burnt with coal in the nearby limekilns - now just two grass-topped humps where the yacht club store boats in the winter. Lime was needed in the county to reduce soil acidity and thereby increase fertility. Lime was also very much in demand as lime mortar for building - lime mortar was used in Ceredigion before Portland cement was available. It was also needed for Lime wash - the original whitewash used to paint stone cottages white.

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8.Enid Stores and Coal Yard

A shipyard was situated here known as Enid Stores and Coal Yard. This is now the
Yacht Club. Shipbuilding yards developed in the 1830s on this side of the harbour, known as South Beach, and expanded throughout the1840s and 1850s declining rapidly from 1866. There was also a steam sawmill and a sawpit at the south end of South Beach.

9. Westgate Toll House

In about 1813, this was the last of the three Aberaeron turnpikes to be built. In 1843 two of the three toll houses were attacked by Rebecca Rioters protesting against the Poor Law and the payment of tithes and tolls. The north and East Toll gates were wrecked, but no-one was hurt. Troops were billeted in the Union Workhouse during the riots.

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10. British School

Established by the Nonconformists in 1844 with 67 scholars, the present building was opened in 1872 . It was financed from voluntary subscriptions and proceeds from local concerts.

11. Dolhalog Cottages

These are thought to be three of the oldest houses still standing in Aberaeron,
their exact date is unknown but the cottages are typical of  The lowest of the cottages is a typical example of a mud or
cob built house with a thatched roof which has now been covered by corrugated iron
sheets. This was a very common form of construction in the Aeron valley. Click here for more information about Cardiganshire cottages.

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12. Southgate Toll House

This toll house was said to be originally situated near the Feathers Hotel, in the middle of town, but there is no evidence to confirm this. To improve the roads, two Turnpike Trusts were formed in the county in 1770. They improved old roads and built new ones, charging each vehicle and animal for the use of the road to cover the cost of keeping it in good repair. Tolls were collected at Toll-Gates, set across many main roads. There were 22 in Ceredigion in 1843. Two of the three Aberaeron toll gates were destroyed in the 'Rebecca Riots'.

13. Chalybeate Well

A Chalybeate well is one that is said to produce healing water - generally rich in mineral salts and in particular iron. The chalybeate spring in Aberaeron was discovered in 1872 when it was known as Ffynnon Goch (red well). The water was presumably red from the presence of iron salts. The shelter was built in 1881. A 1911 travel book quotes Dr Burghardt of Manchester on the Chalybeate Spring as one of the best in the kingdom. Click here for more on the Aberaeron History page.

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14. Industrial Area

A number of houses now occupy the site of the former industrial area which included a tannery, a forge, a woollen mill, a wood turner's workshop and a wheelwrights. Power was from four waterwheels. The famous Aberaeron shovel with its triangular blade and long curved handle was produced in the forge here by the Davies family from the 1850s until the 1930s. The shape of this shovel was used for the bronze plaques marking the Town Trail.

15. Navigation School

Now a chapel of rest, the Navigation School was one of three in the area. It was known as the 'Aberaeron Commercial and Navigation School'. Many young men and some experienced sailors attended Navigation schools to learn about the use of charts; octants, sextants and other navigational instruments; astronomy and some quite complex mathematics. This would help them qualify as ships' masters or captains. Most coastal villages had Navigation schools.

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16. The Feathers Royal Hotel

The Feathers was built in about 1815 by William Lewes of Llanerchaeron on the site of the former 'New Inn' - once an important stop for changing horses and giving travellers a rest while travelling on the Cardigan to Aberystwyth turnpike. The Feathers was patronised by visiting magistrates. Petty Sessions were held here between 1817 and 1846 before moving to the Town Hall in Market Street. The old photo shows GWR buses parked in front of the hotel.

17. Aberaeron Poor House

The Aberayron Union workhouse, for around 80 inmates, was built in 1838 on Princes' Street just to the east of the town. It was designed by the prolific George Wilkinson who was responsible for at least nine workhouses in Wales. The construction contract of £1,200 was awarded to local builder William Green.

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18. Northgate Toll House

To improve the roads, two Turnpike Trusts were formed in the county in 1770. They improved old roads and built new ones, charging each vehicle and animal for the use of the road to cover the cost of keeping it in good repair. Tolls were collected at Toll-Gates, set across many main roads. There were 22 in Ceredigion in 1843. Two of the three Aberaeron toll gates were destroyed in the 'Rebecca Riots'.

19. National School

The 1847 "Blue Books" state that this was a Girls' School, established in 1842, and a Church School, established in 1817. There were 67 scholars at the Girls' School and 96 at the Church School. Average attendance the previous year was 60 and 76 respectively. The 1905 report states that the school, a non-provided, mixed school, was erected in 1847. There was accommodation for 281. In 1904 there were 125 on the books and average attendance was 95. It is now the Masonic Hall.

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20. Town Hall

Built on the site of Aberayron Ganol (Middle Aberayron) farmhouse, the Town Hall was built between 1833 and 1845. It was first known as Market Hall but when completed in 1845 it was renamed the Town Hall. Aberaeron's first gaol was on the opposite side of the road in front of Ianthe House. The ground floor used to have open arches and was used as a market place with goods being sold here until the 20th century.

21. Big Storehouse

Built in 1870 and was at one time used to build rowing boats. The building is now occupied by a firm of Chartered Accountants.

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22. Pier Cottage

W. J. Lewis writes that this cottage was there in 1800 before the harbour was built. It has been the home of the retired harbourmaster and has also been occupied by a shipbuilder. Later it is said to have been a lodging house and tavern. Now a private home.

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