Bangor
City and Community
View of the city from Porth Penrhyn in 2019
Bangor is located in Gwynedd
Bangor
Bangor
Location within Gwynedd
Population18,322 (2019 UK Office for National Statistics)
DemonymBangorian
OS grid referenceSH580722
• Cardiff184 miles (296 km)
• London258 miles (415 km)
Community
  • Bangor
Principal area
Preserved county
  • Gwynedd
CountryWales
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBANGOR
Postcode districtLL57
Dialling code01248
PoliceNorth Wales
FireNorth Wales
AmbulanceWelsh
UK Parliament
Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament
List of places
UK
Wales
Gwynedd
53°13′41″N 4°07′41″W / 53.228°N 4.128°W / 53.228; -4.128
A view of Garth Pier
A map of Bangor from 2018
  City/community boundary
  Countryside
  Urban area
A map of Bangor from 1947
Ysbyty Gwynedd (Gwynedd Hospital)

Bangor (English: /ˈbæŋɡər/; Welsh: [ˈbaŋɡɔr] (listen)) is a cathedral city and community in Gwynedd, North Wales. It is the oldest city in Wales. Historically part of Caernarfonshire, it had a population of 18,322 in 2019. Landmarks include Bangor Cathedral, Bangor University and Garth Pier. The Britannia and Menai Suspension bridges connect the city to the Isle of Anglesey.

History

Bangor Cathedral, the city's main cathedral and oldest church
A market day in Bangor, 1856
Looking down on Bangor c. 1860
An early design for the Menai Suspension Bridge constructed in 1826 connecting Bangor with Anglesey

The origins of the city date back to the founding of a monastic establishment on the site of Bangor Cathedral by the Celtic saint Deiniol in the early 6th century AD. 'Bangor' itself is an old Welsh word for a wattled enclosure,[1] such as the one that originally surrounded the cathedral site. The present cathedral is a somewhat more recent building and has been extensively modified throughout the centuries. While the building itself is not the oldest, and certainly not the biggest, the bishopric of Bangor is one of the oldest in the UK.

In 973, Iago, ruler of the Kingdom of Gwynedd, was usurped by Hywel, and requested help from Edgar, King of England, to restore his position. Edgar, with an army went to Bangor, and encouraged both Iago and Hywel to share the leadership of the realm. Asserting overall control however, Edgar confirmed liberties and endowments of the Bishop of Bangor, granting land and gifts. From 1284 until the 15th century, Bangor bishops were granted several charters permitting them to hold fairs[2] and govern the settlement, later ones also confirming them as Lord of the Manor.[3]

Bangor remained a small settlement until the start of the 18th century, when a political desire to enhance communications between England and Ireland via the London-Holyhead-Dublin corridor saw it designated as a post town in 1718.[3] Growth was spurred by slate mining at nearby Bethesda, beginning in the 1770s by Richard Pennant, becoming one of the largest slate quarries in the world. The route between London and Holyhead was much improved by Thomas Telford building the A5 road, which runs through the centre of the city and over the Menai Suspension Bridge which was also completed by him in 1826. Bangor railway station opened in 1848.

A parliamentary borough was created in 1832 for Bangor, becoming a contributing Caernarfon out borough as its status grew due to further industry such as shipbuilding[4] as well as travel, not just from Telford's road, but through tourism mainly from Liverpool via steamboat.[5] It was also an ancient borough from earlier privileges granted to Bangor in medieval times,[6] but an 1835 government report investigating municipal corporations concluded that this status was defunct and in name only.[7] The borough was reformed in 1883 into a municipal borough.

Friars School was founded as a free grammar school in 1557, and the University College of North Wales (now Bangor University) was founded in 1884. In 1877, the former HMS Clio became a school ship, moored on the Menai Strait at Bangor, and had 260 pupils. Closed after the end of hostilities of World War I, she was sold for scrap and broken up in 1919.

In World War II, parts of the BBC evacuated to Bangor during the worst of the Blitz.[8] The BBC continue to maintain facilities in the city (see Media).

City status

See also: City status in the United Kingdom and List of smallest cities in the United Kingdom

Bangor has been unique outside of England in using the title of 'city' by ancient prescriptive right,[9] due to its long-standing cathedral and past privileges having been granted making it a borough.[6] Although by the early 1800s the city had a vestry overseeing the few remaining local duties, later government surveys of boroughs had established Bangor's city corporation had become extinct. A board of health was set up in the late 1840s which over time gained more powers for managing local affairs. By the 1870s these too were seen to be ineffective and enough local interest stimulated a desire to obtain a charter of incorporation, which was duly granted in 1883, re-establishing a municipal body.[10][11] This helped to preserve its ancient status; in 1927 a government list was drawn up detailing which settlements were cities, with Bangor being included as the only medieval Welsh city with extant rights.[12] In 1974 the borough was abolished. However, city status was reaffirmed by the Queen to the newly created community council area with new letters patent after local government reorganisation.[13] By means of various measures, it is also one of the smallest cities in the UK. Using 2011 statistics, comparing Bangor to:

Geography

Bangor lies on the coast of North Wales near the Menai Strait, which separates the island of Anglesey from Gwynedd, the town of Menai Bridge lying just over the strait. The combined population of the two amounted to 22,184 at the 2011 census. Bangor Mountain at 117 metres (384 ft) lies to the east of the main part of the city, but the large housing estate of Maesgeirchen, originally built as council housing, is to the east of the mountain near Port Penrhyn. Another ridge rises to the north of the High Street, dividing the city centre from the south shore of the Menai Strait; this area is known as Upper Bangor (Bangor Uchaf).

The Bangor community area includes the suburbs of Garth and Hirael both immediately north of the city centre; Upper Bangor north west of the centre; West End, Glan-adda, Bryn Llwyd and Coed Mawr to the south west; Y Maes to the south; Glantraeth, Tan-y-bryn and Maesgeirchen are to the east. The suburbs of Penhros-garnedd, Treborth and Minffordd are within the community of Pentir adjoining the city to the south and south west. Port Penrhyn and the tiny estate of Plas-y-coed, adjoin the city within the Llandygai community.

Bangor has two rivers within its boundaries. The River Adda is a largely culverted watercourse which only appears above ground at its western extremities near the Faenol estate, whilst the River Cegin enters Port Penrhyn at the eastern edge of the city. Port Penrhyn was an important port in the 19th century, exporting the slates produced at the Penrhyn Quarry.

Governance

Electoral wards in Bangor

Bangor lies within the Arfon constituency for elections to the UK parliament. Arfon is also the constituency for elections to the Senedd.

The City of Bangor Council serves the people of the city, created in 1974 following Bangor assuming city status.[15] Twenty councillors are elected from the eight electoral wards in the city, namely: Deiniol (2), Dewi (3), Garth (2), Glyder (3), Hendre (2), Hirael (2), Marchog (3) and Menai (3). In 2017 half of the seats were won by Plaid Cymru.[16] The city also elects eight county councillors to Gwynedd Council. In 2021, Owen Hurcum was unanimously elected as mayor, making history as the youngest-ever mayor in Wales at 22, as well as the first ever non-binary mayor of any UK city.[17]

In 2012, Bangor was the first city in the UK to impose, throughout its city centre, a night-time curfew on under-16s. The six-month trial was brought in by Gwynedd Council and North Wales police, but opposed by civil rights groups.[18]

Demography

Bangor is ethnically diverse, with 85% of the population identifying as White British, followed by 9% Asian, 2% Arab, 2% Mixed Race, 1% Black and 1% Other ethnic. This makes Bangor 85% White and 15% Non-White which means the city has one of the highest ethnicity populations in Wales for its population of over 18,000.[19][20]

In religion, Christianity was followed by 8,816 residents, Islam followed by 892 residents, and 6,526 residents not identifying with any religion or identifying with other religions. Christianity is the most prominent religion but the second largest group followed no religion.[19] In 2021 Muslims in Bangor complained that restrictions imposed in the city had left women unable to worship at the mosque during Ramadan, while in other parts of Wales arrangements such as outdoor prayers had been made.[21]

Transport

Culture

Heritage and nature conservation

The head office of Gwynedd Archaeological Trust is located on Garth Road.[22] The Trust was established in 1974, and carries out surveys, outreach and education, and excavations across Gwynedd and Anglesey.

The North Wales Wildlife Trust is also based on Garth Road, and manages the nature reserves at Eithinog and Nantporth.[23]

Music and arts

Bangor Town Hall, now home to Storiel

Classical music is performed regularly in Bangor, with concerts given in the Powis and Prichard-Jones Halls as part of the university's Music at Bangor concert series. The city is also home to Storiel (the new name for the Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery), which is located in Bangor Town Hall.[24] A new arts centre complex, Pontio, the replacement for Theatr Gwynedd, was scheduled for completion in the summer of 2014,[25] but the opening was delayed until November 2015.[26]

Bangor hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1890, 1902, 1915, 1931, 1940 (through the medium of radio), 1943, 1971 and 2005, as well as an unofficial National Eisteddfod event in 1874.

Garth Pier

Main article: Garth Pier

Garth Pier is the second longest pier in Wales, and the ninth longest in the British Isles, at 1,500 feet (460 m) in length. It was opened in 1893 and was a promenade pier, for the amusement of holiday-makers who could stroll among the pinnacle-roofed kiosks.

In 1914, the pier was struck by a vessel that had broken free of its moorings. The damaged section was repaired temporarily by the Royal Engineers, but when in 1922, a permanent repair was contemplated, it was found that the damage was more severe than had been thought. The repairs were made at considerable cost and the pier remained open until 1974 when it was nearly condemned as being in poor condition. It was sold for a nominal price to Arfon Borough Council who proposed to demolish it, but the County Council, encouraged by local support, ensured that it survived by obtaining Grade II Listed building status for it.[27]

When it was listed that year, the British Listed Buildings inspector considered it to be "the best in Britain of the older type of pier without a large pavilion at the landward end".[28] Restoration work took place between 1982 and 1988, and the pier was re-opened to the public on 7 May 1988.[27] In November 2011, essential repair work was reported to be required, the cost being estimated at £2 million. A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund was sought but the application was rejected.[29]

Cathedral

Main article: Bangor Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of St Deiniol is a Grade I Listed building and is set in a sloping oval churchyard. The site has been used for Christian worship since the sixth century but the present building dates from the twelfth century. It has a two-bay chancel, transepts, a crossing tower, a seven-bay nave and a tower at the west end.[30]

Theatre

The 344-seat Theatr Gwynedd was opened on Deiniol Road in 1975 by the university, and closed in 2008. The building was demolished in 2010.[31] Prior to Theatr Gwynedd, Bangor was home to the County Theatre, a converted chapel on Dean Street. The building was altered in 1912 for theatrical productions, and converted to use as a night club in 1986, currently named as "Cube Nightclub".[32]

Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre

The Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre by Bangor University on Deiniol Road, opened in 2015, has a theatre and a cinema.

The Archdeacon's House in Bangor was the setting for act 3, scene I of William Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1.[33]

Cinemas

Bangor once housed two cinemas.

The Electric Pavilion – later Arcadia Cinema – stood on the High Street close to the station from about 1910 to 1930. This site was redeveloped for The Plaza Cinema, which operated from 1934 to 2006.[34] A new building was built on the site and is now occupied by Ty Willis student accommodation and Domino's Pizza.

The City Cinema opened in 1919, at 130–132, High Street. Building work started in 1914, but was likely delayed because of the war. The cinema closed in 1983, although the building is still there and is now occupied by a dance academy and a snooker club.[35]

A one-screen cinema opened as part of the Pontio building in 2015.

Recreation

Bangor has two King George V fields; these are located on Beach Road and Heol Dewi.

Retail trade

A claim to fame is that Bangor has the longest High Street in Wales at 1.265 km (0.79 mi).[36] Bangor has a central shopping area around the High Street, and retail outlets on Caernarfon Road, on the outskirts of the city. One of these is St. David's Retail Park, built on the site of the demolished St David's maternity hospital.

In 1865, Morris Wartski, a refugee from the Tsarist pogroms, first established a jewellery business on Bangor's High Street, and then a drapery store. His son, Isidore, went on to develop the drapery business and to create a large, fashionable, store. He also redeveloped the Castle Inn on High Street in Bangor, which then became the high-class Castle Hotel. Wartski was a very popular mayor of the city and a great patron of local sports and charities. Wartski Fields were bequeathed to the city and people of Bangor by his widow, Winifred Marie, in memory of Isidore Wartski.

Welsh language

Gwynedd is the most Welsh-speaking county in Wales, with 65.4% of people saying they could speak it at the 2011 Census, although Bangor has been significantly more Anglicised than its hinterland and the rest of Gwynedd, mostly because of the large student population. While nearby towns in Gwynedd, such as Bethesda and Caernarfon were still 75–80% Welsh speaking in 2011,[37] Bangor was already only 53.4% Welsh speaking as early as 1971.[38]

In 2011, only 36% of the population of Bangor said they could speak Welsh; a significant decrease from the 46% recorded at the 2001 Census.[39][40] In 2015, of primary school pupils 5 years and over, the following percentages spoke Welsh fluently at home:[41]

The city has long been the most cosmopolitan settlement in Gwynedd, attracting incomers from both England and further afield, with Bangor University being a key institution. At the 2011 Census, 49.3% of Bangor's population was born outside Wales.[39][40] Nevertheless, Welsh was the majority vernacular of the city in the 1920s and 1930s; at the 1921 Census, 75.8% of Bangor's inhabitants could speak Welsh with 68.4% of those aged 3–4 being able to, indicating that Welsh was being transmitted to the youngest generation in most homes.[42] The 1931 Census showed little change, with 76.1% of the overall population being able to speak Welsh.[43]

Education

Bangor University and Coleg Menai are located in the city. There are a few Secondary schools, these include Ysgol Friars, Ysgol Tryfan and St. Gerard's School. There are also a number of primary and infant schools. Ysgol Y Faenol, Ysgol Y Garnedd and Ysgol Cae Top are all primary schools.

Hospital

Ysbyty Gwynedd is located in Bangor in the suburb of Penrhosgarnedd. It has 403 beds, making it smaller than the other district general hospitals in Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (after Wrexham Maelor Hospital with 568 beds and Glan Clwyd Hospital near Rhyl with 424 beds.[44]

The former Caernarfon and Anglesey General Hospital[45] operated from 1809 to 1984 in Upper Bangor, on the site now occupied by Morrisons supermarket.

Sport

Bangor has a long-established football team, Bangor City F.C. which currently competes in the Cymru North, the second tier of Welsh football. Bangor City won the Welsh Premier League on three occasions (1994, 1995, 2011) and were continuous members of the league from its inception until 2018. Bangor City have also won the Welsh Cup eight times, most recently in the 2010 competition. Before 1992, they were members of the English football pyramid, peaking with the Northern Premier League title in 1982 and being FA Trophy runners-up in 1984. They have also competed in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup three times (including its final season, 1998–99, before being merged into the UEFA Cup), UEFA Champions League twice, and UEFA Cup five times, though they have not progressed far in any of the European competitions.

Fans wanting to protect football in the city, formed a breakaway club called Bangor 1876 F.C. in the summer of 2019 and on 19 June 2019, the FAW announced the new club had been accepted into the Gwynedd League for the 2019–20 season.

Bangor is also home to rugby union team Bangor RFC who play in the WRU Division Two North league. As well as the city's team, the university boasts a very competitive rugby union team, which won the title in its BUCS league in the 2015-16 season and also undefeated in 2022 and 2023. The university's rugby team shares a performance and development programme with Rygbi Gogledd Cymru (RGC), who are the regional representative club for the North Wales Rugby Development Region.

Media

The Bangor Aye is an independent online news and information service for the city and surrounding area.

Bangor is home to a small BBC broadcasting centre, producing a large amount of output for BBC Radio Cymru. The studios are also the main North-West Wales newsroom for television, radio and on-line. The BBC's Light Entertainment Department moved to Bangor during World War II and many classic programmes (like It's That Man Again) came from Bangor.

Bangor was also previously home to two commercial radio stations, Heart Cymru (serving Anglesey and Gwynedd) and the now-defunct Heart North Wales Coast (serving the North Wales Coast), which shared studio facilities on the Parc Menai office complex – the studios were closed in August 2010 after the stations were moved to Wrexham.

Bangor University also has its own student radio station called Storm FM, which broadcasts to the Ffriddoedd Site and from their website.

In 1967, The Beatles came to Bangor, staying in Dyfrdwy, one of the halls comprising Adeilad Hugh Owen (Hugh Owen Building), now part of the Management Centre, for their first encounter with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, during which visit they learned of the death of their manager Brian Epstein.[46][47]

On 24 February 2010 BBC Radio 1's The Chris Moyles Show announced Bangor as the location for Radio 1's Big Weekend concert festival. The morning show was broadcast on location from Bangor, with the announcement as well as a portion of the lineup being revealed. Big international acts such as Rihanna, MGMT, Kesha and Alicia Keys played as well as homegrown British acts like Biffy Clyro, Pixie Lott, Cheryl Cole, Pendulum and Dizzee Rascal.

The town is mentioned in the Fiddler's Dram 1979 hit single "Day Trip to Bangor". The release was shrouded in controversy after reports that the song was actually inspired by a trip to nearby Rhyl, and there were rumours of an outcry among local councillors and businesses in Rhyl about the missed opportunity for tourism which would have been generated. Songwriter Debbie Cook stated that the song was specifically written about Bangor.[48]

Bangor, Pennsylvania

The United States town of Bangor, Pennsylvania in the Lehigh Valley region of eastern Pennsylvania draws its name from Bangor, Gwynedd. Bangor, Pennsylvania was settled around 1760 by Robert M. Jones, an emigrant from Bangor, Gwynedd who went on to be influential in the development of the town's slate industry. Slate quarries still exist in the small Pennsylvania town, but only a few are still functioning. A life-sized statue of Jones, dedicated on 24 September 1914, remains in the town centre.[49] The influence of Bangor, Gwynedd is visible in the stone walls, square gardens, flowers, and greenery that mirror those of its Welsh namesake. Also like Bangor, Wales, Bangor, Pennsylvania has piles of slate residue and shale reminiscent of the area.[50]

Notable people

Duffy, 2010
Owen Hurcum, 2021
See Category:People from Bangor, Gwynedd

Sport

Wayne Hennessey, 2016

Twin towns

References

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