Blaenau Ffestiniog is a small town in Gwynedd, north-west Wales. It has a population of 4,830 according to the United Kingdom Census 2001.
Located in the mountains
, the town was once a major centre of the slate mining
industry. This industry declined during the early 20th century. The town's economy is now largely dependent on tourism
. Although the town is in the centre of the Snowdonia National Park
, the boundaries of the Park are specifically arranged to omit the town with its substantial slate waste heaps from the Park.
The hills around Blaenau Ffestiniog form the watershed between the River Conwy flowing to the north and the River Dwyryd flowing to the west.
Ysgol y Moelwyn is the main secondary school
in the area, covering Blaenau, Manod, Tanygrisiau, Llan Ffestiniog, Trawsfynydd, Gellilydan, and even stretching into the Vale of Ffestiniog. There are five primary schools in the area, many are due for closure or mergers with other schools.
Blaenau Ffestiniog is one of the poorest areas in Gwynedd, but even that managed to get the best results in North Wales. 89% passed, and second was Ysgol Botwnog with 79%. Blaenau are expected to get the worst results in Gwynedd.
Blaenau Ffestiniog boasts several major tourist attractions
, including the Ffestiniog Railway
, and also the Llechwedd Slate Caverns
, a former slate mine open to visitors. Llechwedd is regularly listed as one of Wales' top 5 visitor attractions.
Blaenau Ffestiniog has strong roots and tradition with music from the Quarrying boom days with the Caban, Male voice choirs and brass bands, to the Jazz / Dance bands like ‘The New Majestics’ to the popular-rock bands of the 80-90’s such as Llwybr Llaethog and Anweledig, to most recent bands such as Gai Toms, Frizbee and Gwybdaith Hen Fran. Further to this local Alternative Music training Company Gwallgofiaid now has 12 + bands under its umbrella based at their Center 'Cell' at the Old Police Station in Park Square. The Centre has 5 rehearsal rooms, a 24 track studio and Cwrt performance space.
Blaenau Ffestiniog hosted the National Eisteddfod
in 1898. It was formerly part of the ancient county of Merionethshire
The official Welsh-English pronunciation of Blaenau Ffestiniog suggested by BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names
is but the first word is more commonly by local Welsh
The main access route to Blaenau Ffestiniog is via the A470 road
which runs from the north to the south of Wales. The A497, which runs West to East, feeds the Llŷn Peninsula
into the A487 (which runs from Bangor through Caernarfon and into Porthmadog, which in turn connects with the north-south A470. Immediately to the north of the town the A470 climbs steeply to the Crimea Pass
and meets the A5
At various times the town has been the terminus for four independent railway lines, each with its own station or stations:
Today Blaenau Ffestiniog railway station on the site of the former Great Western station serves as a combined station for the Ffestiniog Railway and the Conwy Valley line, their previous stations being no longer in use.
Noted current & former residents
- David Nash (artist), artist
- John Cowper Powys, novelist.
- Llwybr Llaethog, musical group.
- Glyn Wise, contestant and runner up on Big Brother 7.
- Anweledig, musical group. (Welsh Wiki link)
- Gwyn Thomas, Welsh poet, academic and the present National Poet for Wales.
- Dave Felgate, footballer.
- Frizbee, Welsh Pop/Rock band. (Welsh Wiki link)
- Ceryl Davies, presenter on Radio Ceredigion.
Locals divide Blaenau Ffestiniog into "parts" - among these are Tanygrisau and Manod. In this sense Blaenau Ffestiniog is sometimes used to refer only to the centre of town.