The penultimate part is, at last, here!
Queens Road; on the Junction Looking up Northgate Street
GR: As we leave North Parade onto Queens Road we pass a rather grand Edwardian building with iron railings to our left, on the very corner of the two roads.
C: I see it, sir.
GR: It was here that until the early twentieth century a temperance hall stood, and opposite us, where there is now a small car park next to the red brick and stucco house, there stood a church.
C: What is a temperance hall?
GR: It would have basically been a huge coffee house, a creation of the temperance movement in the early nineteenth century when more and more people were supporting a ban on alcohol and to try and spread their cause they set up huge halls where their supporters could meet away from pubs and other meeting houses of the time, where temperance was frowned on.
C: I see, and was it linked to the church opposite?
GR: I cannot say, but they were likely built around the same time, probably in 1840 or so. The church was built for Welsh Calvinists and stood until at least as the sixties, finally being pulled down after it was too dilapidated to repair without extreme cost.
C: A shame, if it was anywhere near as fine as the other churches in this town I should have liked to have seen it.
GR: Well, there is still some history standing yet; if we move a little way down Queens Road we can see a rather nice white painted house on the right, with two semi-circular bay windows and a large ship building archway beside it.
C: With the columns either side of the door?
GR: Yes, that’s the one; that is Sandmarsh Cottage (possible at one point in the nineteenth century being an inn called the Neptune) and it is the last sign of this road’s old name – Sandmarsh Road – it was the first house built in this road and one of the first permanent structures built on the sandmarsh; it’s construction here was the beginning of Aberystwyth’s growth north into an area that since the stone ages had been flood land that absorbed the storms of the sea.
C: So not the ideal place for your summerhouse, then?
GR: Surely not, and this road was often flooded before the promenade and sea wall were built. If we walk a little further we find the pub currently called Scholars.
C: I have heard it is a good place to drink.
GR: I agree firmly, sir, and it has been so since the 1860s when it first opened as a pub, although then it was called the Crystal Palace, at some point after 1890 it was extended into two properties rather than the original one. It only changed its name in the 1980s and has since been the fine establishment you see today.
C: I see. But what is that fine columned building I see distantly?
GR: Come on, follow quick and let us stand before it and I will tell you of it.
C: Very well, my guide.
GR: This is the town hall that was built after the old one on the spot of the town clock was demolished.
C: It is a fine building!
GR: Sadly, it is a shadow of the former grandeur that stood here when it was first built in 1857. The original town hall on this site was built after the Talbot Hotel was demolished and had a much grander face than what we currently see.
C: Do go on.
Gr: It was a slightly shorter building than the one that stands now, with larger columns and grander windows. The doorway is the only original shape in the structure that stands now, although all the stone detailing is gone from around it.
C: And why was it changed so much?
GR: On September 8th 1957 a fire broke out and damaged the town hall irreparably before it could be put out, much of the hall was demolished and this new building raised in its place. It is a fine building, but sadly not as grand as it once was.
C: It still makes a well presented addition to this well-proportioned square though, I would say. And I see that this town has even more churches here!
GR: When the town hall was built there was not a church there, where you see it now there was up until the end of the nineteenth century an ice rink, which was one of the main attractions that brought people to the hotels in this road. In fact, opposite that, there is The George, a hotel that was built in the nineteenth century as one of the smarter hotels in town.
C: It sounds like quite a smart part of town.
GR: For sure it was, now, please, let us go a little further down Queens Road.
C: Lead on, my guide, lead on.
GR: We come first on our left to the newly built Methodist Centre of St. Paul’s, built on the site of an English speaking Methodist church that had space for four hundred. Just beyond it, on our right past the red windowed house, is a small brick built building that resembled a Victorian garage.
C: Oh yes, and what history lies there?
GR: That was built in 1875 to hold the Aberystwyth lifeboat, which first set up a station here in the 1860s; it was the base for those heroic sailors in the early days of the RNLI, and was where, on the 18th May 1922, the boats were rushed to the rocks just outside Aberystwyth to rescue the crew of the foundering trawler called the Princess Mary, who were only saved thanks to the station being so close to them.
C: Truly an important building, then.
GR: A part of maritime history, of which there seem to be far too few for such a town as this, if we continue on there is a rather fine house with an iron balcony, separate from the terraced houses beyond it. This is the small Aberystwyth courthouse, although it may not look it, and has seen enough of Aberystwyth’s criminal society go through its doors in the course of time.
C: I would never have thought it to be a courthouse.
GR: It certainly does not look like one. Now, I’m afraid my time to speak with you grows a little short, so let us move on a little quickly, if you would be so kind.
C: For sure, go, my guide!
GR: If we walk a little further we are outside St. Winifred’s; a catholic church and, I must say, probably my favourite church in the town, since it is a rather beautiful building that seems a little more elegant and homely than the austere fronts that make the other churches in Aberystwyth.
C: It is a rather nice building.
GR: Yes, and beyond it on the left, on the corner of North Road, is the old town fire station that weas built in this end of the town in about 1890. Behind them in 1923 there was built the College Hall, a rather grand hall used by the university, which burnt down spectacularly and slightly mysteriously in August 1933.
C: A mystery? It seems a lot of parts of Aberystwyth have burnt down without reason.
GR: It would seem so. Now, if we go left at these cross roads here we can finally have a good walk along the Victorian promenade.
C: Ah, you left the best till last?
GR: Why, what did you expect? Going ahead of us there is the end of Queens Road, leading up to the Victorian railway to the top of Constitution Hill – a route I would recommend you take some day to enjoy that view. Mesolithic worked stone found up there suggests that Constitution Hill has been used as a vantage point for viewing the lands around it for at least ten thousand years.
C: Such a long time! It might as well have been souls who had only just fallen from the doorstep of Eden that walked upon that place.
GR: Yes, but let us return to Aberystwyth as the town it is today. If we go left at the crossroads now we go down Albert Place to the seafront, with Queens Hotel to the right – presently council offices – the grand building was in fact used by the university for lectures during the restoration of the Old College at the end of the nineteenth century.
C: Ah, and look at the sea! Such a view!
GR: Truly, I think I will end this walk before my time is up with a little walk by the sea.
C: Yes, my guide, let us do that.