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Book on entrepeneur who changed the fortunes of North Wales launched in Snowdonia

Published date: 21 April 2017 |
Published by: Dale Spridgeon
Read more articles by Dale Spridgeon


 

A BOOK about a Georgian entrepeneur whose foresight changed the fortunes of North Wales has been promoted in the Snowdonia town he developed.

“William Alexander Madocks – a social history of William Alexander Madocks, his family and some of the people and places he knew,” by Sara Eade, was launched at the Royal Sportsman Hotel, Porthmadog, on Thursday, April 20.

Author, social and family historian Sara spent 18 months writing the book and part of her research saw her scouring early editions of the North Wales Chronicle, established in 1808, and Wales's oldest surviving weekly.

In the book, Sara documents Madocks’s achievements, as well the people and places he knew, and used original letters kept in the records office in Caernarfon and The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Madocks was famous for building two embankments in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The first enclosed and drained land on which he built the town of Tremadog. 

The Cob, built in Porthmadog, would provide vital road and narrow gauge rail connections between the old counties of Merionethshire and Caernarvonshire.

Sara, 66, from Tywyn, became interested in Madocks through her love of Welsh narrow guage railways.

”I first heard about him after being involved with the Tal Y Llyn railway. He was a fascinating man who’s foresight made a huge difference to North Wales.

“He enclosed the Glaslyn estuary and provided land for agriculture at a time when the government of the day wanted to increase home production of food,” she said.

”Bulding the Cob necessitated diverting the river Glaslyn, the result carved out the area which became the Harbour and allowed goods to be brought in by sea and slate from the quarries above Blaenau Ffestiniog to be taken out.”

The book also contains histories of the houses that William Madocks and his family owned including Tan Yr Allt, near Tremadog.

After the launch, Sara brought the book up to Plas Tan-Yr-Allt, where there was a gathering of guests and a talk.

Largely unchanged since Madocks's day, Tan Yr Allt was the first Regency Villa in North Wales. It is now an award winning luxury guest house run by Howard Mattingley & Mark White.

Historically, it was frequented by artists, musicians, writers and poets, and is the place where a reputed assassination attempt was made on the life of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Other people linked to Madocks inlcude James Spooner, builder of the Ffestiniog Railway; William Robert Spencer, Lord Byron, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Love Peacock, opera singer, Elizabeth Billington and Arthur Christopher Benson, writer of Land of Hope and Glory.

The hardback book has 232 illustrated pages including maps, engravings and  photographs and is £38. Details from saraeade@webleicester.co.uk

For Plas Tan Yr Allt: www.plastanyrallt.co.uk

For more news from across the region visit northwaleschronicle.co.uk

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