20th Century History

Harlech has played host to many of the 20th Century's celebrated individuals, possibly this is one of the most surprising elements in the Town's history.

Coleg Harlech

George Davison, The Managing Director of Kodak retired to Harlech in 1907. He was an outstanding landscape photographer and in 1900 was Co Director of Kodak with George Eastman. He built a large house overlooking the Golf Course. The house - Wern Fawr - was built to very high standards and is now home to Coleg Harlech.

Alvin Coburn

In 1916 Alvin Langdon Coburn, originally from Boston in the U.S.A., came to live in Harlech with his wife Edith. At the time he was considered to be the world's finest photographer and he built 2 houses in the town; one for himself and one for his friends to stay in when they visited.

Joseph Holbrooke

The composer was once a resident of Harlech.

Richard Hughes

Born in 1900 and author of A High Wind in Jamaica (1929). He lived at Môr Edrin in Ynys overlooking Portmeirion on the Dwyryd Estuary.

He wrote for the BBC, the world's first Radio Play called Danger, which was broadcast in 1924. He met Robert Graves at Oxford University and co-edited a Poetry publication with him. He died in 1976.

Harlech Military Railway

Begun in 1941 the Harlech Military Railway was born. A Branch from the Main Line of the Great Western Railway was constructed just to the north of the Station. Its purpose was to serve a gunnery range to train soldiers for battles during the war.

The line ran just north of the Harlech station, on the Great Western Railway, across ungated level crossings to a junction at grid reference 576324. Here the line reversed through an arc swinging southwest to northwest to its first terminal at Cefn Mine.

From here there was a reversing junction to the workshop and locomotive shed at Grid reference 574315 (just north of Beach Road) where remnants can be seen to this day if you look carefully. The depot served a gunnery range, possibly connected to the Trawsfynydd camp.

There have been suggestions that John Mowlem & Co Ltd. (Contractors) built this railway using the locomotive 1529 Yeovil an 0-6-0 ST built by Hudswell Clarke. But proof is lacking, probably because there was a war on!

Yeovil was seen on the back of a lorry in Betws-y-Coed on the 23rd and 24th of April 1941, possibly en route to Llanberis where it is known to have been used to construct an Air Ministry Depot. It was there by July 1941. Previously Mowlem had used it (until at least the 16th of April 1941) at the Royal Ordinance Factory contract at Swynnerton, Staffordshire. At some time after August 1941 it was with the war department as WD69.

The line was closed in 1946 and finally scrapped in 1948.

Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman, the author of 'His Dark Materials' was educated at Ysgol Ardudwy in Harlech in the 1950's. 'Northern Lights', the first book in the trilogy, became the film 'Golden Compass' with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig released in 2007.

Your Memories

Do you have memories and recollections you'd like to share with us, maybe you were stationed here in one of the various Military Camps or Llanbedr Airfield, trained with the Commando's, came on holiday in the 50's and 60's and can remember some of the shops that were here. So put your thinking caps on, tell us what you can remember.