Clwyd (Welsh pronunciation: [ˈklʊɨd]) is a preserved county of
Wales, situated in the north-east corner of the country; it is named
after the River Clwyd, which runs through the county. To the north
lies the Irish Sea,
Cheshire is to the east and
Shropshire to the
south-east, both in England. The Welsh counties of
Powys and Gwynedd
lie to the south and west respectively.
Clwyd additionally shares a
maritime border with the metropolitan county of
Merseyside along the
River Dee. Between 1974 and 1996, it was a county with a county
council, one of the eight counties into which
Wales was divided, and
was subdivided into six districts. In 1996, the county of
abolished, and the new unitary authorities of Wrexham,
Borough, Denbighshire, and
Flintshire were created; under this
reorganisation, "Clwyd" became a preserved county, with the name being
retained for certain ceremonial functions.
This area of northeastern
Wales has been settled since prehistoric
times, the Romans built a fort beside a ford on the River Conwy, and
Normans and Welsh disputed the territory. They built their castles
at strategic locations as they advanced and retreated, but in the end,
England prevailed, and Edward I conquered the country in 1282. In the
following centuries, the Welsh people were repressed and there were
numerous uprisings and rebellions against English rule. The Act of
Union in 1535 incorporated
Wales under the English Crown and made it
subject to English law.
Traditionally, agriculture was the mainstay of the economy of this
part of Wales, but with the Industrial Revolution, the North Wales
Coalfield was developed and parts of eastern
Clwyd around the Dee
Wrexham became industrialised. The advent of the railway
Chester along the North
Wales coast in the mid-nineteenth
century made it easy for urban dwellers from
Lancashire and Cheshire
to visit the seaside towns of North Wales, and nowadays, tourism is
the main source of income in Clwyd.
4 Administrative history
5 2003 boundary review
9 See also
10 Further reading
Wales has had human settlements since prehistoric times. By the
time the Romans reached Britain, the area that is now
occupied by the Celtic
Deceangli tribe. They lived in a chain of hill
forts running through the
Clwydian Range and their tribal capital was
Canovium at an important river crossing on the River Conwy. This
fell to the Romans, who built their own fort here, in about 75 AD and
the whole of
Wales was soon under their control. After the Roman
departure from Britain in 410 AD, the successor states of
Powys controlled what is now Clwyd. From about 800 onwards, a series
of dynastic marriages led to Rhodri Mawr inheriting the kingdoms of
Gwynedd and Powys. After his death, this kingdom was divided among his
three sons and further strife followed, with not only Welsh battles
being fought, but also many raids by Danes and Saxons.
Denbigh in about 1775, from A tour in
Wales by Thomas Pennant
Normans conquest of
England at first had little effect on North
Wales. This was to change as the city of
Chester on the River Dee
became the base for successive campaigns against the country in the
thirteenth century. The coastal plain of
Clwyd was the main invasion
route used and a number of castles were built there to facilitate
these advances. The castles at Flint and
Rhuddlan date from this
period, and were the first to be built by
Edward I of England
Edward I of England in North
Wales during his successful conquest in 1282. After this, the rule
of the Welsh Princes was at an end and
Wales became annexed to
England. The country was known as the Principality of
Wales during the
period 1216 to 1536. From 1301, the crown's lands in north and west
Wales, including Clwyd, formed part of the appanage of England's heir
apparent, who was given the title "Prince of Wales". This was a time
of repression for the Welsh people and there were numerous uprisings
and rebellions against English rule. Under the Act of Union of 1535,
Wales became permanently incorporated under the English Crown and
subject to English law.
Industrial Revolution did not much affect the rural parts
of Clwyd, there was considerable industrial activity in the North
Wales Coalfield in the north-east of the county, particularly around
Bersham Ironworks at Bersham, in the same area, was at
the forefront of technological advances and was most famous for being
the original working site of the industrialist John Wilkinson who
invented new processes for boring cannons. The Williams-Wynn family
Wynnstay had become rich after the dissolution of the monasteries
and owned vast estates in
Clwyd with resources including lead, tin and
copper as well as corn and timber.
The county of
Clwyd is in the northeastern corner of Wales. It is
bounded by the
Irish Sea to the north, the Welsh counties of Gwynedd
to the west and
Powys to the south, and the English counties of
Cheshire to the southeast and east respectively; much
of the eastern boundary follows the course of the River Dee and its
estuary. Other large rivers in the county include the River Alyn, a
tributary of the Dee, the
River Clwyd and the
River Conwy in the west.
The northern coastal strip of the county is heavily developed for
tourism and has many resorts, including Llandudno,
Colwyn Bay, Colwyn,
Rhyl and Prestatyn. In the northeast lies Deeside, the
coastal plain beside the Dee estuary, and this part of
heavily developed for industry. The area around
Wrexham and the
commuter settlements close to
Chester are also heavily built up.
Sheep grazing with the
Clwydian Range behind
To the west of this is a ridge of mountains with a steep scarp slope
to the west, the Clwydian Range. The highest point of these hills is
Moel Famau at 1,820 ft (555 m). The north-central part of
the county is the broad Vale of Clwyd, and the best agricultural land
lies here. To the south of this, the land is much higher and more
Denbigh Moors and the
Berwyn range are here. The central
and western parts of the county are much more rural than the coastal
area and the east, with part of the
Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia National Park lying in
the western part of the county. The population as of 2007 is
estimated at 491,100, based on figures for the four component unitary
Clwyd is bordered by the preserved counties of
Gwynedd to the west,
Powys to the south,
Shropshire to the south-east,
Cheshire to the east
Merseyside over the River Dee. Since the 2003 boundary changes,
its coastline has extended from the
Dee Estuary in
Llanfairfechan in Conwy.
Clwyd consists of the whole of the
historic county of Flintshire, and most of Denbighshire. Since 2003 it
has also included the former district of Aberconwy, which lies in the
historic county of Caernarfonshire, and also Edeyrnion Rural District
which was previously part of the historic county of Merionethshire.
Limestone quarry at Minera Mountain
The economy of
Clwyd depends on a mixture of industrial, agricultural
and tourism activities, with tourism predominating. The land uses of
any region depend on the underlying geology which influences the soil
types. In the Clwydian Range, lead and spar minerals have been mined
in the past, and limestone quarried from Llantysilio Mountain, Ruabon
Mountain and Minera Mountain near Wrexham. The Minera Limeworks
were once the largest lime workings in North Wales. Later, road
building stone was extracted but the quarries closed in 1992. Coal
mining in the North
Wales Coalfield ceased in the second half of the
twentieth century but used to be a large source of employment in the
area. The main products being manufactured in industrial east
Clwyd include aircraft components (Airbus), engines (Toyota), paper
(Shotton Paper) and steel processing, and the port of
and supports offshore windfarms.
Agriculture, largely based on livestock, has traditionally been the
main occupation in the central and western parts of the county. There
are a mix of large and small farm businesses, and a thriving dairy
sector in the Vale of Clwyd. Many of the towns have livestock
markets and the farming industry supports farm machinery merchants,
vets, feed merchants, contractors and all the ancillary trades
connected with agriculture. With their incomes on the decline,
farmers have found opportunities in tourism, rural crafts, specialist
food shops, farmers' markets and value-added food products.
The Pier at Rhyl, about 1900
Tourism is nowadays the main source of income in Clwyd. The upland
areas with their sheep farms and small, stone-walled fields are
attractive to visitors, and redundant farm buildings are often
converted to self-catering accommodation while the farmhouses
themselves supply bed-and-breakfast opportunities. The arrival of the
railway on the coast in the mid-nineteenth century opened up travel
Merseyside and caused a boom in tourism, with guesthouses in
seaside towns offering board and lodging for the urban visitors. More
recently caravan sites and holiday villages have blossomed and there
has been an increase in the ownership of "second homes".
Various initiatives designed to boost the economy of North
being attempted in 2016. These include the Northern Gateway project on
the former Sealand RAF site on Deeside, and a redevelopment project
for the former
Rhyl seafront and funfair.
From the late 1950s, the radical reform of local government in Wales
was considered more pressing than that in England, due to the small
size of many of the existing authorities, especially the upper tier
county councils. The Local Government Commission for
Wales set up in
1958 was the first to recommend wholesale amalgamation of the
administrative counties outside
Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, with
extensive boundary changes; however the then Minister of Housing and
Local Government Sir
Keith Joseph decided not to accept the report,
noting that county amalgamations in
England had been highly unpopular
In 1967, after a change of government, the Secretary of State for
Cledwyn Hughes published a white paper which revived the idea of
amalgamation, but instead of the boundary changes proposed in the
previous report, treated each county as a whole. The report
recommended a single new county of
Gwynedd incorporating Denbighshire,
Merionethshire and Anglesey. The white
paper stated that "the need for early action is particularly urgent in
Wales", and so the issue was not referred to a
Royal Commission as in
England. Opponents criticised the proposed new county for being
too large, and in November 1968 a new Secretary of State announced
Gwynedd would be divided into two.
This revised proposal was continued in a further white paper in March
1970, although this proposed that the counties be unitary authorities
which would have no district councils below them. The incoming
Conservative government resurrected two-tier local government in a
consultative document published in February 1971, again with the same
upper-tier boundaries. Some minor changes having been made to the
existing county boundaries due to special local factors, the Local
Government Act 1972 duly created
Clwyd as a merger of
most of Denbighshire, along with the Edeyrnion Rural District from
Merionethshire. The 1970 white paper had introduced the name of
Clwyd by reference to the
River Clwyd and the Clwydian range of hills;
Clwyd was the only new Welsh county which did not take its name from
an ancient kingdom.
Districts of Clwyd:
5, Alyn & Deeside
For second-tier local government purposes,
Clwyd was divided into six
districts: Alyn and Deeside, Colwyn, Delyn, Glyndŵr,
Wrexham Maelor, each being operated by a district or borough
council. These were abolished, along with the county itself, on
1 April 1996.
Clwyd County Council's coat of arms was granted
in December 1974. The design of the shield, crest and motto includes
elements taken from the arms of the councils of the former Flintshire
and Denbighshire. The green and white wave represents the Vale of
Clwyd and the
Clwydian Range lying between the two parts of the
county. The cross and choughs come from Flintshire's shield, which
itself incorporated the traditional arms of Edwin of Tegeingl, while
the black lion of the Princes of
Powys Fadog is taken from
Denbighshire's shield. The motto, Tarian Cyfiawnder Duw can be
translated as "The shield of Justice is God".
Clwyd County Council and its districts were abolished by the Local
Government (Wales) Act 1994, and local government would be replaced by
the four unitary authorities of Flintshire,
Wrexham County Borough,
Denbighshire, and parts of
Conwy (along with some smaller communities
moving to Powys). The Act also abolished the County, and states the
term "county" would be synonymous with the "principal areas" created
by the 1994 Act. However the Act then created a further set of
"preserved counties", which were based on the eight created by the
1972 Act. These Preserved Counties, similar in respect to English
Ceremonial counties, would be retained for a variety of purposes,
Lieutenancy and Shrievalty.
Clwyd County Council and its six districts ceased operations at
midnight on 1 April 1996, and local government was immediately
transferred to the new principal areas of Conwy, Denbighshire,
Flintshire and Wrexham. However, although bearing the same names, the
Denbighshire were substantially different
from those of the earlier counties. As it happened, the county records
Flintshire had been retained at the
Hawarden branch of
Clwyd Records Office while those for historic
continued to be held at the
Ruthin branch, so there was no problem in
segregating the records.
The Preserved County of
Clwyd came into effect on the same day that
Clwyd County Council was abolished. The preserved county was almost
identical to the 1974–96 county, but had a few minor changes in line
with changes to local government boundaries, the communities of
Llangedwyn being transferred
Clwyd to Powys.
2003 boundary review
Clwyd as a preserved county since 2003.
In 2003, the borders of
Clwyd were changed to cover the remainder of
Conwy (which had previously been part of Gwynedd), which was part of a
Wales-wide re-organisation of the preserved counties, so that
boundaries of the preserved counties would contain whole current
principal areas only.
These moves were met with some criticism, as the preserved counties
were created to sustain a stable and continuing layout, irrespective
of interim local government reviews affecting principal areas. This
led to some areas, such as the Aberconwy district, moving to a
preserved county it had never been administered by in the past, and
therefore these moves went generally unreported due to the preserved
county's limited status. The Boundary Commission proceeded to retain
the eight preserved counties, and modified their borders in 2003 to
match with the incumbent principal area boundaries. The 2003
arrangement brings towns such as Llandudno,
Conwy and Betws-y-Coed
into the preserved county of Clwyd.
Many local organisations still make use of the word "Clwyd" in their
name, often because their membership covers a wider area than their
present unitary authority. These organisations include the Clwyd
Theatr Cymru, which is based in Mold and is the largest producing arts
centre in Wales. It provides young people the opportunity to get
involved in drama. The
Clwyd Family History Society can help its
members to access many historical documents concerning northeastern
Wales, and the Clwyd-
Powys Archaeological Trust is one of four
archaeological trusts covering the whole of Wales. The Clwyd
County Darts Association organises tournaments and takes part in
inter-county matches. The
Clwyd East Football League was created
in 2011 to represent the North East
Wales area at the fifth tier of
Welsh Football. It has subsequently changed its name to the North East
Wales Football League. The
Clwyd Pension Fund is the Local
Government pension scheme inherited from
Clwyd County Council, now
providing pension schemes for Wrexham,
Flintshire and Denbighshire
unitary authorities and former districts.
The position of
Lord Lieutenant of Clwyd also continues as the
Monarch's personal representative, as with the other seven preserved
counties of Wales. The current Lord Lieutenant is Henry George
Fetherstonhaugh, who was appointed in 2013.
Narrowboat crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was built by
Thomas Telford in 1805 and is
the largest aqueduct in the United Kingdom; it carries the Llangollen
Canal over the River Dee and is a World Heritage Site, being
considered a masterpiece of civil engineering. The Clwydian Range
and Dee Valley constitute an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, one
of just five in the whole of Wales. Denbigh,
historic towns and
Llangollen hosts the
Musical Eisteddfod in July each year.
The Gop is a
Neolithic mound, the second largest such structure in
Britain being only superseded by Silbury Hill.
Caer Drewyn is one of
Iron Age hill forts in the county that attest to human occupation
of this area for millennia. Maen Achwyfan Cross is a carved 10th
century wheel cross depicting Celtic and Viking symbols. The
castles of Rhuddlan and Flint were built by the
their invasion of North
Castell Dinas Brân
Castell Dinas Brân was a Welsh
fortress of the same period.
St Asaph Cathedral
St Asaph Cathedral also dates from the
thirteenth century as does the medieval Cistercian abbey of Valle
Bodnant Garden is a formal garden in a landscaped setting, and
Erddig Hall is a stately home, both owned by the National Trust. Other
fine country houses in
Clwyd include Trevor Hall and Faenol Fawr,
Plas Mawr and
Aberconwy House are historic town
houses in Conwy. Also in
Conwy is the
Conwy Suspension Bridge, one
of the first such bridges in the world.
Virgin Voyager approaching Flint railway station
Wales Coast Line is the railway line from
Crewe to Holyhead,
operated by Virgin Trains. Trains leaving
Crewe pass through Chester,
cross the River Dee into Wales, and continue through Flint, Shotton,
Holywell junction, Prestatyn, Rhyl,
Conwy and Bangor, to Holyhead, from where there is a ferry service to
Ireland. Passengers can change at Shotton for the Borderlands Line,
Bidston on the
Wirral Peninsula in
Conwy Valley Line links
Llandudno Junction to Blaenau
Betws-y-Coed and was constructed mainly for use as a
freight line for the transport of slate to the quay at
export by sea. It is a scenic route with a number of request
There are no motorways in Clwyd. The A55 dual carriageway road passes
St Asaph to the North
Wales coast at Abergele,
after which it runs parallel to the railway line through Conway and
Bangor to terminate at Holyhead. The A548 passes from
Deeside and along the coast, before leaving the coast
and terminating at Llanrwst. The main road from London is the A5 which
Chirk and passes northwestwards through Llangollen,
Betws-y-Coed to join the A55 and terminate at Bangor. The
A543 crosses the
Denbigh Moors from southeast to northwest, and the
Ruthin with St Asaph. There are local bus services
between the main centres of population. Several services by Arriva
Wales run along the main coast road between
Chester and Holyhead,
linking the coastal resorts. Other routes include;
Conwy and Dolgarrog;
Rhyl to Denbigh;
Wrexham to Chester; and
Wrexham to Mold.
List of Lord Lieutenants of Clwyd
List of High Sheriffs of Clwyd
List of places in Denbighshire
List of places in Flintshire
List of places in
Conwy County Borough
List of places in
Wrexham County Borough
Gordon Emery - Curious
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Preserved counties of Wales
Coordinates: 53°05′N 3°16′W / 53.09°N 3.27°W