A little history
… and some large numbers.
Not long ago the Vyrnwy valley looked very different...
In the 1870s the city fathers of Liverpool purchased 24,000 acres of pristine countryside in North Wales to preserve the purity of the 400 or more streams that flowed into the Vyrnwy Valley. They moved the small village of Llanwddyn on to higher ground and in 1881 began building the first stone built dam in the United Kingdom.
Using huge blocks of Welsh Granite, it took seven years to build - not surprising when you consider that it is 128 feet thick at its base, 144 feet high and 1171 feet long: it may not quite be up there with the pyramids, but it's still no mean feat when all you have are horse-drawn carts, picks and shovels. The result was the first dam ever deliberately designed to allow surplus water to cascade over its face. It's still a breathtaking sight when in full flow.
Lake Vyrnwy’s dam holds back enough water to fill 13,500 Olympic swimming pools. The fairytale tower houses fine mesh to filter the water before it begins a 68 mile trip by man-made aqueduct to Liverpool.
As well as an engineering marvel, the city fathers realised that they had created a magical landscape and in a spirit of magnanimity decided to show off their creation by building a hotel to entertain dignitaries and special guests. We’re sure they never thought of using it themselves purely for pleasure!
They even brought no fewer than 40,000 brown trout from Loch Leven in Scotland and introduced them into the lake: fishermen are still catching their distant descendents today.
The original Lake Vyrnwy Hotel was built in 1890. In 1910 it was extended to coincide with the visit of the Prince of Wales (later that year to become King George V) to officially open the dam some 20 years after its completion. We like to think that Lake Vyrnwy Hotel is still fit for a King! The details of Prince George's visit to Lake Vyrnwy are sketchy –but it's an interesting thought that if your bedroom is in the original building there is a chance that you could well be sharing a view that was enjoyed by the grandfather of our present Queen.
In the 1930’s as car ownership increased and travel became easier Lake Vyrnwy Hotel expanded yet again to entertain "the right crowd". Reservations could now be taken by telephone (number Llanwddyn 2) and your servants could be accommodated for ten shillings per day.
In the 1990s, 100 years after it first opened, the current owners added yet more rooms and did so again in 2007 with the addition of 14 Premier Lake View rooms and the opening of Lake Vyrnwy’s luxurious Spa.