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19th Century Georgian Inn

The Erskine Arms has been owned by Stange & Co. since 1997. For a fair chunk of that time, the pub was known as ‘The Malt Loaf’, which many will remember as a busy vibrant community local.

However, the tastes and demands of the folk living in and visiting Conwy changed over the years and began looking for something more food and family focused. So we decided to give the old place a top to bottom renovation in 2017, restoring the old place back to an original inn with smart rooms for those visiting Conwy or just passing through serving great local homemade food with great beer and decent wines. With this in mind, it only seemed natural for us to revert back to the original name The Erskine Arms, the building’s original name from late Georgian times to the mid-1990s.

Timeline

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1830/1840

The Erskine Arms was built

The Erskine is believed to have built around the 1830s/1840s.

The building was owned for many years by the Erskine family who were significant landowners in the area during the 19th century. The Dowager Lady Erskine was known for her philanthropy. During hard winter weather in 1864, for example, she gave £20 of coal to the poor of Conwy and Llandrillo-yn-Rhos. She was also the main supporter of the Conway Clothing Club, which helped to provide clothes to poor and elderly people.

1821

Pwllycrochan estate

In 1821 Lady Erskine married Sir David Erskine of Cambo, Fifeshire and they decided to make Pwllycrochan their home, demolishing and replacing the existing house. Acres of land, hitherto fields, were planted with trees and additions were made to the woods, in which were made paths and rustic bridges. Small fields were combined to form parkland either side of the private drive (now Pwllycrochan Avenue) which led to the turnpike at the foot of the hill – now Abergele/Conway Roads. After Sir David died in 1841, his widow continued to live there with her six children. However Lady Jane and her son, the new Sir Thomas, in turn demolished the house and replaced it with what is part of the present property. In 1865, as Sir Thomas found that he needed to spend more time on his Scottish properties, he decided to sell his Welsh properties.

The sale comprised the 1,850 acre Bodlondeb estate and 70 houses in Conwy (probably including the Erskine Arms) and the 1,191 acre Pwllycrochan estate. The brochure for the Pwllycrochan estate stated that the “property commands one of the finest marine prospects in this most popular neighbourhood, with a splendid sea bathing beach 1¼ mile in length forming a perfect amphitheatre. The mansion will be sold in one lot and the remaining portion fronting the sea will be sold in separate lots to meet the great and increasing demand for marine residences on this coast.”

Late 19th century

The Erskine Arms Hotel

'The Erskine Arms Hotel' was enlarged considerable during the late 19th century. Mr R Roberts, landlord of the hotel during this time, was one of the first people to fall foul of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act 1881, which outlawed the sale of alcohol on Sundays to anyone except travellers who had journeyed more than a certain distance before stopping at a hostelry. In September 1881 Mr Roberts was fined £5 after a police officer discovered a couple of drunks at the Erskine who did not appear to be genuine travellers.

Early 20th century

Horse drawn sales

The Erskine Hotel kept its own stables into the early 20th century, when it would supply horses to pull Conwy’s new fire engine as required. Horse sales were often held in the Erskine Hotel yard. In 1907, buyers travelled from as far afield as the Midlands to buy some of the 55 “useful harness horses and cobs” which were for sale. Horse-drawn vehicles and harnesses also featured in the sales. The Conway Horse Show Society held its committee meetings and dinners at the Erskine.

During a livestock fair in 1899, a young heifer wandered into the hotel, walked around the billiard table and even climbed the stairs to the first landing before being shooed out!

1854

Famous guests of history

Another notable time at this hotel was when the well known author, Charlotte Bronte stayed on her wedding tour enroute to Ireland on the 29th June 1854. Fifty years later, her husband Reverend Arthur Bell Nicholls wrote in reference to the hotel: “We found it very comfortable, and the accommodation very good”.

1997

How we came to be

The Erskine was bought by Stange & Co. in 1997 in a very sorry state and with an even worse reputation, through some investment and a rebranding as ‘The Malt Loaf’ we turned it into a traditional and thriving community pub serving great beer, and offering a pool table, snooker, darts and screened sports. However the upper floors were left mothballed as there was still little demand for those wishing to visit and stay in Conwy. Conwy was still very much a town for the local community with little in the way for the visitor economy.

2017

'The Erskine Arms' returned

As public tastes and desires changed so did the need for the Malt Loaf and the decision was made to give the old girl a top to bottom renovation and restoration, bring the rooms up to date and back to life, and shoe-horning a top-notch kitchen into the cellar and restoring her name to ‘The Erksine Arms’.

We feel we have created a classic inn offering great food, a cracking pint and boutique bedrooms creating a home away from home.

1846

'Y Capel' - Bethesda Baptist Chapel

Bethesda Baptist Chapel was founded in 1846 to service those wishing to attend a non-conformist place of worship and was an actively used congregational chapel until the late 1970s when it fell out of use due to social change and dwindling numbers attending services. The chapel remained untouched until our refurbishment and conversion in 2019.

The chapel is a grade II listed building due to its special architectural interest as one of the few surviving town-centre chapel buildings, well preserved and of definite 19th century character with retention of original detail. When the chapel was originally built in the mid 19th century it would have been quite simple and austere in appearance. Then some 30 years later, probably inspired by the movement of the time ‘The Victorian Restoration’, in 1875 the chapel received a remodelling and renovation and the addition of ornamentation to the front of the chapel in a Lombardic/Italian style. The remodelling being noted on the façade by the inscription of the date AD 1875. This inscription is accompanied along with the words ‘Addoldy y Bedyddwyr’ on the front of the building roughly translating to ‘Baptist place of worship’.

Y Capel guest house was born

Y Capel has been under Stange & Co.’s ownership since the 1970s when after falling attendances the chapel fell out of use. It formed part of several development ideas over the years, but none ever seemed to get off the ground until recently. Through the complete refurbishment of our neighbouring property the Erskine Arms in 2017, the success and popularity that the rooms have enjoyed there, gave us the confidence to tackle the slightly more challenging prospect of converting our rather derelict and neglected chapel.

There have been many hurdles and bridges to cross to develop the Baptist chapel, before we could even begin the restoration, we had to tackle rampant dry rot, serious water ingress, infestations, subsidence, party wall agreements, listed building and planning consent and worse. But a patient and some would say fool-hardy local contractor E&H Griffith & Sons has worked closely bringing this iconic and beautiful building back to life.

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Stange & Co. Ltd
Registered Office: 19 Trinity Square,
Llandudno, LL30 2RD
Company registered number: 639690
VAT number: 160 2262 07

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