“… Alban Thomas Jones Gwynne, Clerk Lord of the said Manor of Llyswen, otherwise Aberayron, is willing and desirous at his own Expense, to rebuild, enlarge, improve and maintain the said Quay or Pier, and also to improve the said Harbour”
Above is an extract from a Special Act of Parliament dating from 28 July 1807 which gave life to our town, thanks to the vision of Reverend Alban Thomas Jones Gwynne, Lord of the Manor of Aberaeron.
During the ensuing decades, the town as we know it today took shape around the harbour and what was once a small fishing village gradually grew into one of the major trading ports along the Cardigan Bay coast.
The planning of the town by Col.Alban Gwynne and his architect, Edward Haycock, earned it the reputation of being “one of the best examples of a planned township of small scale in Wales”. Many of the houses surrounding the harbour were owned by the local sea-captains and many are names after those far flung destinations for example Gambia, Melbourne.
At this time the ship building industry was in full swing along the coast and for almost a century ships powered by both sail and steam proudly bore the words ‘of Aberaeron’ beneath names such as Cadwgan, Mountain Lass, Gwladys, Aeron Queen, Lively Lass, All Right and Star of Wales to name but a few.
With the expansion of the harbour came the expansion of local enterprise. Aberaeron soon became a bustling centre where many a successful industry thrived. The site of the local woollen mill still stands on the banks of the river Aeron and the famous Aberaeron shovel was produced in the local ironworks. Farming was still a major contributor to the local economy and the annual livestock fair held on 13 November drew people from far and wide – a tradition which is continued through to today although the only livestock on the fairground of today are the goldfish given as prizes on the ‘Hook the Duck” stalls! Seafarers, farmers and townspeople alike had many a hostelry to choose from as at its height Aberaeron boasted some 35 public houses. Today only 9 remain.
Sadly the success of the town’s harbour began to dwindle with the introduction of the Railway in 1911 and this spelt the end of Aberaeron’s great seafaring traditions. Today one of Aberaeron’s main industries is tourism and visitors from all over the world come to our town and experience for themselves the ‘Jewel of Cardigan Bay’, taking with them a little bit of it in their hearts as they leave.
Click here for a history of the Aberaeron Railway.