Bala street layout is marked out in square courts and was set up by Roger de Mortimer from Chirk Castle in the 14th Century. The main street, Stryt Fawr, is very wide and tree-lined and has shops from one end to the other.
...the lake of the five parishes is over four miles long and a mile wide at its widest. It is remarkable that, besides many other species of fish, it contains the gwyniad. It was probably entrapped during the Ice Age and is a very rare fish related to the whiting sea fish. Special arrangements have been made to ensure its survival should there be a catastrophe in Llyn Tegid.
The lake’s name comes from Tegid Foel, one of the characters in the “Mabinogi”, Welsh stories and legends from around the 6th Century in King Arthur’s time. Indeed, his relatives feature as main characters in the stories. Bala has two fairs a year which block the length of the main street but there were two relief roads built into the plan centuries ago which enables traffic to by-pass the once frequent street markets. Tomen y Bala, nearby, is a very ancient structure and was once part of a motte and bailey castle.
Clothing manufacturing is one of the largest employees now but long ago it was as knitters and their knitters market that Bala became well known further afield. Nearly everyone knitted socks and gained their income by selling them in the popular market. In front of Capel Tegid, just off the main street, down Heol Tegid is a statue of Thomas Charles of Bala, 1755-1814. In 1804 Mary Jones walked bare foot, over 50 miles there and back, from Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, to collect a Bible. Thomas Charles had none left and took pity on Mary and gave her his own. He helped to start the British and Foreign Bible Society and his grandson, David Charles, founded Coleg Y Bala in 1837.
In 1865 Michael D Jones, whose house and home was across the road to Coleg Y Bala sent out groups of Welsh people to Patagonia in South America and they eventually settled the area and it still retains its Welsh connections, language and way of life to this day. Lakeside walks in such wonderful scenery are very popular, there is parking and all facilities by the lake.
The Leisure centre, next door to the lakeside car park, has a swimming pool, cafe and training equipment and nearer into town there is a cinema with film programmes each week. Many of the pubs and hotels have live music nights. Learn a little of the language before you leave, you’re bound to hear it spoken or sung, most of the towns people are Welsh Speaking. Hwyl!
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