Friday, 14 January 2011

Beaumaris Castle: more popular than the Beatles

Beaumaris Castle: still pulling them in 700 years later
Amidst a pervading atmosphere lately of doom and gloom, I was especially heartened to learn that Welsh Castles are the single biggest attraction for foreign visitors to the United Kingdom -- more popular even that touring Buckingham Palace, attending a premier league match, or visiting Harrods.

The survey, carried out by Visit Britain in 20 countries across the world asked 10,000 respondents to choose which activity they would most like to do if they came to Britain. Here are the results:

  • Tour Welsh castles: 34%
  • Tour Buckingham Palace: 32%
  • A night in a Scottish castle: 29%
  • Stonehenge sunrise: 29%
  • Premier League match: 19%
  • Harrods shopping: 19%
  • Scottish whisky tour: 15%
  • Shakespeare at The Globe: 11%
  • Wimbledon: 11%
  • Beatles tour of Liverpool: 11%

With castles dotted all over North West Wales, in Caernarfon, Conwy, Dolbadarn, Dolwyddelan, Harlech, Criccieth, and of course in Beaumaris, it shows what an extraordinary resource they are for attracting visitors and promoting tourism. Indeed, the tourism industry is now worth annually £215 million to Ynys Môn (several times more than is currently derived from Agriculture on the Island), and it is clear that Beaumaris castle is the tourism jewel in Ynys Môn's crown.

However its not difficult to argue that Anglesey is punching well below it weight when it comes to retaining tourists on the Island. This is amply demonstrated by our experiences with the Cruise Ships mooring at Holyhead: a great many of the passengers get on coaches which take them directly off the island to Caernarfon or Betws Y Coed. Accordingly we need to do more to provide a diversity of attractions (all with all important coach parks) to complement Beaumaris Castle and compete with what is available over the bridges. I will be writing more about this shortly...


the outsider said...

As well as being a big draw on the tourist trail Beaumaris Castle is also a fantastic film location, as are other parts of the island. I know we have filmed there. Really helpful local staff and people too.

Brawd o Amlwch said...

I notice that the EcDev Section are inviting consultants to tender for a study into ways to capitalise on our Anglesey beaches, and coastline....good start ?

Photon said...

Your support of heritage and ideas for an integrated approach to tourism is one of the principal reasons why you will get my vote, come May.

We are just too quick to overlook what we have - and how we can benefit economically. None of the various agencies charged with promoting this area are doing so at anywhere near full-pelt, and with very little imagination.

Jake said...

I was just wondering do you know details of the survey- was it a fixed list or not

The reason I say this is if it was a fixed list, then I too would prefer to go to Welsh castles than a 'night' in Scottish castle. And vice versa if it was the other way around.

Anglesey should pump more into tourism. And remember that when we try and get jobs via Wylfa and A.A. I don't think we appreciate it, but it's an amazing base for a tourist. The sea, mountains and lakes by our door.
Great 'touristic' villages like Beaumaris, Rhosneigr.

That is why I think our 'major' towns like Llangefni. Should become more 'welsh' in the Summer (tourists love it). In other words, encourage people to get a nice big 'traditional welsh market' bring the crowds in.
Get some great tacky tourist shops/ 'traditional' foods shops on the High Street and then get some nicer cafes/restaurants.

We really need to look at Ireland for advice, theres a town in the South thats popular with tourists. Michelstown. Llangefni could really be like that. Big GOOD market (in the summer), nice cafes etc.

But what to do with the place in winter? would this be sustainable? I don't know.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think we appreciate it, but it's an amazing base for a tourist."

Indeed. I suspect if you live on Anglesey (especially if you've been there forever) it may becomes routine and unappreciated, for many.

"what to do with the place in winter? "

A select few strategic year round attractions to keep the place ticking over?

If castles etc are your thing, beyond Beaumaris, Plas Newydd used to be well worth a look, reasonably easy to get to, and with decent facilities (especially the tea rooms). Haven't been for a while though, hope it's still OK.

My current favourite nomination, and aimed at a rather different target audience, would be an Anglesey offshoot of the CAT at Machynlleth, focusing on marine technology as well as land-based stuff, perhaps working with the School of Ocean Sciences in Menai Bridge (Bangor Uni) and maybe even with the Electric Mountain folks in Llanberis?

Someone might want to find out who pays Glyn Davies over £500 for an Anglesey print, and then see how they might be attracted to visit the real thing, whatever time of year.

There are *plenty* of possibilities. Making them happen is a different matter.

Anonymous said...

Technically the are English castles

Anonymous said...

18.45....? spoken like a true Englishman perhaps....The English have (mostly) forgotten that they conquered Wales.........the Welsh haven't !

Anonymous said...

Yes they are English and true patriots would like to dismantle them stone by stone, they are symbols of oppression...

Anonymous said...

Apparently there's more than one Glyn Davies on the Internet :)

The one I meant was the one with the gallery in Menai Bridge, Anglesey prints and books available on Amazon if you can't make it to the gallery, and the blog (for words and sample pictures) at

Enjoy. [no connection with Glyn]

the outsider said...

Anon @19.17 - You overlook the fact that these 'Welsh' castles have now effectively been 'confiscated' by CADW, and are being put to use for the benefit of the Welsh economy. Now that really is a symbol of the Druids Revenge.

Anonymous said...


I don't think you're correct with the phrase "punching below our weight". You're a good researcher so go and find out how many static caravans, parked up touring caravans,second homes, accommodation for holiday rental, b&b, guest house and hotel rooms we've got on the island. Then you can find out for us how many campers visit and what their average stay is.

Don't knock everything, there are some things that this island does incredibly well.

Paul Williams said...

Jake - regarding the actual survey - yes it seems it was a fixed list in so much that it offered "going on a tour of the castles of wales" or "spending a night in a scottish castle". You can find the full details here:

Including the interesting information that Poles and Russians are the biggest fans of Welsh castles...!

Also, completely agree with your views regarding the market at Llangefni. I have been very involved with Cwmni Tref Llangefni's attempts to revive the market there. A subject for another post one day.

kp said...

Confused amid the confusion.

Firstly you want 'energy island' and a new nuclear power station at Wylva. Then you want a transport depot at Rio Tinto/AA. And now you seem to want more tourism and farmers markets too.

Is there no end to your stupidity. It was precisely this kind of muddled thinking that got us in the mess was are now in.

Oh, and by the way, the reason people like visiting castles is because the exact spend per head amounts to £0.00.

Go figure.

the outsider said...

Kp - Our exact spend was dozens of nights of accommodation for crew and cast, meals and drinks at local pubs and hotels, petrol purchased at local stations, stuff for crew bought at local shops, work on the production given to local trademen and women, location fees to property owners etc. Oh and this can all be used to encourage further visits by tourists! This is how I figure it.

Anonymous said...

kp, i'm getting bored of reading your comments. you puff yourself up with pomposity and then talk crap. Anglesey is 276 square miles large: plenty of space for a nuclear power station, a port, a tourism industry, and, yes, farmers markets too. they already exist, so forgive us for wanting to keep them and make them better.

kp said...

Anon 11:04

You've got bored ... you don't want to think about things any more ... you're happy with what we've got ... you just hope to make things a bit better ... nothing too drastic ... nothing too successful .... and certainly nothing planned and coordinated!

Sorry, but it is from thinking like yours that we need to escape, we do need a change!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way, the reason people like visiting castles is because the exact spend per head amounts to £0.00.

It costs a bloody fortune to get into the castles.

Apart from which they employ people.

Anonymous said...

kp says "Oh, and by the way, the reason people like visiting castles is because the exact spend per head amounts to £0.00."

actually here are the charges to visit Beaumaris castle from the cadw wesbsite:

Admission Charge:- Adults £3.60, Reduced rate £3.20.
Family Ticket:- £10.40 - admits 2 adults and up to 3 children under 16 years.

pompous kp demonstrates his lack of knowledge yet again. sadly i doubt it will stop him posting more drivel on topics he has no clue about though.

Anonymous said...

What is needed at the Council is a new MD, and a new leadership, based on the Druids Manifesto.

Photon said...

This is what the Irish did with Newgrange - a neolithic tomb complex which has direct links with Anglesey through chamber design and the motifs etched into the stones. Even with a not-very-well-kept website, they've clearly done a lot better with this site than we have:

Anonymous said...

Much as I loathe the thought of more gawpers and dawdlers around the place they're a necessary evil and anyone who's ever been on the slightest bit of the multitude of Tourist trails in Scotland will see how it should be done.

Almost every village has an attraction along with it's mandatory 'Traditional' Scottish Tofee shop/Tartan shop/unecessary plastic object shop. Leaflets about everywhere are everywhere. Tourists are taken by the coachload to 'attractions' that can barely be described as such by comparison to Welsh Castles but they go (and keep going) because there's a tea rooms and clean toilets and it passes an hour for (relatively) little money.

Locals know about the attractions and are happy to give directions and help to visitors.

There's no reason why Anglesey can't do this too

the outsider said...

I expect there has been a lot of recent work into tourism development on the island. I would be interested to learn about any plans to make use of the old Saunder-Roe factory at Llanfaes. It's a fantastic location with much and varied history attached. The old slipway for launching vessels into the water is still there, so pleasure cruises could be a possibility. Any future use would have to work within the constraints of the local road network and not generate a great deal of additional traffic. But there are ideas that could work within that constraint. There appears to be a need for year round employment in the village. I'd be interested to know more about what plans there have been and what Beaumaris Town Council have to say.

Richard Sletzer said...

If IoACC was really focused on developing tourism on Anglesey and whetting holidaymakers' interest in the island's history then the ignorant, left-wing, anti-English Llangefni politicians should have been stopped from carrying out all the damage they've inflicted on Beaumaris over the last 50 years.

They tried (unsuccessfully) to rename the town with the ridiculous made-up "Welsh" name "Biwmares"

They wrecked the island's education system, closed all the the grammar schools on the island and with them the excellent Beaumaris Grammar School which had been a centre of learning and excellence since being founded in 1603 by David Hughes. The school was turned into a comprehensive in 1952 and moved to Menai Bridge

Beaumaris used to be "The Royal Borough of Beaumaris" - created by Royal Charter by Edward 1st - until the Llangefni's Labour politicians decided to strip away this ancient title in the 1970s . With it went the historic ancient regalia, the gold chains, the priceless silver oars.

Beaumaris was also the port authority for the whole of the North Wales coast. All ships and local boats had to be registered at Beaumaris .HM Customs and Excise was based at Beaumaris - but these functions were stripped away- again by Labour.

Beaumaris was the legal centre and the county town of the island - but that status too was removed.

Had Beaumaris been allowed to retain all its historic titles and functions it would be a far more powerful tourist magnet than it now is.

Anonymous said...

Richard Seltzer 19.51
Would you please spell out phonetically the way YOU say Beaumaris..and whilst you do so, please advise whence this word was derived.

Richard Sletzer said...

Of course - only too happy to oblige.
At first glance you might think the "Beau" in Beaumaris should be pronounced like "Beau Brummel" - but this is not local usage.
Beaumaris is pronounced "bo" (with a slightly flattened "o" tending more towards the Welsh "y" sound - and "maris" (with a flat "a"). The emphasis is on the first syllable.
The derivation, as you know, is Norman-French because it is a Norman-French town.
Before the establishment of the town, and the castle, the area was known as "Porth y Wygyr" (Port of the Vikings).
However the administrative Port of Beaumaris - with its distinctive "BS" registration letters - was far larger, covering the whole of the North Wales coast from the Clwyd estuary to the River Dysynni (almost half way down Cardigan Bay).
After 1840 Caernarfon and Pwllheli were allowed to set up their own sub-registers of shipping as sub-ports of Beaumaris.

Anonymous said...

I do not agree with your "local usage" comment. To me and those I know who are non Welsh speaking, all use the Beau as in Bow. You seem critical of Welsh speakers using the pronuncition 'Biw', what is wrong with that? You seem critical of one nation picking up words derived elsewhere but seem to accept the massive hotchpotch from which spoken English is compiled. Let's be fair to the Welsh language, it is far older than the English used today. There are many more modern things which Welsh could not include and so new words are formed or modern English words are adpted.

Anonymous said...

Originally the 'Bo' in Beaumaris was pronounced the same as beautiful, so 'Biw' is closer in sound.

Anonymous said...

Originally the 'Bo' in Beaumaris was pronounced the same as beautiful, so 'Biw' is closer in sound.

As in Beaulieu - the Abbey and vintage car place.

And indeed, the castle was built on a marsh and the French builders called it beaux marais which translates as "beautiful marsh". At that time the french words beau & beaux were pronounced as 'biw' or 'boo' so from a pedanic point of view 'bow' is a disgracefully gutteral mispronounciation.

Prometheuswrites said...

I tend to use 'Biw' when talking with a Welsh speaker and 'Bow' when talking to an English speaker.

However, I'm more interested in being understood than in being politically correct.


Richard Sletzer said...

One does not want to be unduly pedantic on this point - but I'm afraid "Beaulieu" or "Bewley" - is nothing like "Beaumaris".

The main point however is that local people in Wales are heartily fed up with being told what the names are of their own towns and villages - and don't need to be told how to pronounce them.

Despite local usage Portmadoc was forcibly replaced by by the ridiculous "Porthmadog"; Conway became the awful "Conwy". History and tradition were laid low by political correctness.

We should all celebrate the failure of the the Welsh-language Taliban to inflict "Biwmares" on Beaumaris.

Anonymous said...

Don't I just get the feeling that Richard Sletzer believes that the Welsh should not have a language.

Next he will be writing about the Americans use of the word
Dienasty which of course he quite correctly pronounces Dinnasty.

Richard Sletzer said...

I have nothing against the Welsh language at all. Like many contributors here I am a Welsh-speaker myself.

What I DO object to is the conceit of the left-wing political elite who worship at the altar of facist/pacifists like Saunders Lewis (who wasn't even Welsh) and who wrongly use the Welsh language as a lever of political control.

Anonymous said...

and who wrongly use the Welsh language as a lever of political control.

Unlike you who wrongly are attempting to use the english language as a lever of political control.