Welcome to Barmouth - Abermaw**Please note: This table is designed to be viewed with a black background**
Barmouth Harbour at the Mouth of the Mawddach Estuary
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - ......... yet have I stood,
Even while mine eye hath moved o'er many a league
Of shining water, gathering as it seemed,
Through every hair-breadth in that field of light,
New pleasure like a bee among the flowers.
Barmouth Page Contents:
Overview of BarmouthBarmouth is a small coastal town, with a harbour at its southern end, and, stretching away to the north, mile after mile of clean flat sandy beach . Near the harbour, the hills rise steeply behind the town, limiting the space available for town development, which has inevitably spilled out northwards towards the more gently sloping hills and the beachfront.
A number of views of the town from the hills behind are shown below. (Click on the pictures for a more detailed view).
This is the harbour area at the southern end of the town (click on picture for full sized view). The dunes adjacent to Barmouth used to be an "island", known as "Ynys-y-Brawd", which was inacessible by foot other than at low water during spring tides. The tide would race between the island and the mainland, scouring out a deep channel.
The severity of the tidal race claimed a number of unwary tourist lives until, in the late 60's-early 70's, the island was linked to the mainland with a barrage (see right hand side of picture) as part of a larger sea-return flood defence scheme. The sea-return wall, built as part of a wider sea defence scheme along the whole length of the previously excellent promenade, was for a good part of its length unecessary, and seriously diminished the aesthetic and amenity value of the promenade, particularly for children, the infirm and disabled - we shall return to this issue later. (See before sea-return wall and after).
The town spreads out northwards alongside the beach and along the main road towards Llanaber, originally a small village but now progressively becoming an extension of Barmouth. The promenade extends for over a mile alongside the beach.
The promenade finishes at the northern end of Barmouth, with the beach extending away into the distance. The more detailed view across the north of Cardigan Bay shows the Lleyn Peninsula rising from the sea on the left (west) of the picture, with hills developing into mountains as the view moves east. The peak of Snowdon is just out of the picture to the right.
Commercial and Social Infrastructure:
Despite the magnificent environmental setting of Barmouth - the mountains, the estuary, the sea and the vast expanse of wide open sandy beach stretching northwards up the coast - over the last 30-40 years the local architecture, buildings and community have suffered serious decline, the heart of the town having been torn out by the negative pressures and excesses of declining commerce. Also, the fine promenade has been despoiled by an ill-designed sea return wall, unecessary for most of its length, obstructing access and enjoyment of the promenade and beach, particularly for the young and infirm.
In addition, the town has suffered from a lack of investment, increasing unemployment, and the cheapening of commercial ventures common to many, if not most, of towns and villages in remote holiday resorts around Britain. This increasingly inward spiral of decay is partly a consequence of the natural commercial pressures in an increasingly competitive world, and partly, (but in my view mainly), due to a lack of Planning vision of those within government, both national and local.
The above comments are necessarily a generalisation, there are a number of notable exceptions, and many have fought hard over many years to resist the decline - the harbour area in particular has escaped many of the worst excesses.
However, without a visionary plan set within a robust strategic planning framework, the pressures of market forces will continue to eat away at the infrastructure and community of Barmouth, with the situation only likely to deteriorate with time.
How can this sad situation have been allowed to happen? Where does the responsibility lie? How can Barmouth now move forward and develop self-sustaining commerce and tourism in a balanced way?