Pwllheli’s history dates back many centuries.
The first written reference to Pwllheli can be traced back to the 13th century when in 1284, the town’s assets were listed for Edward 1st, following the death of Llewelyn ab Gruffydd, the last Prince of Gwynedd at the battle of Cilmeri in 1282.
There is reference to the raising of taxes against boat owners, the use of fishing nets and the sale of herring. It is believed that twenty one families resided in the town, in a settlement near a salt pool at the bottom of the hill. It was at the level of the high tide and gave its name to what it’s refreed to today Penlan. It is also believed that the reference to this salt pool is what gave the town its name. There is also reference to a peninsula of some form by the name of Penlan and this area of higher ground could be regarded as forming a defensive line or fort. There are still areas within the town today that reference these areas such as Penmount and Gadlys.
In 1355, the Black Prince awarded ‘municipal rights’ to the town, which allowed it to elect a mayor, hold a weekly market every Sunday and hold two fairs a year. It is likely that the majority of traders at the arkets were English, which gave rise to the supporters of Owain Glyndwr took ip upon themselves take back control of the county from Enlglish rule with tragic consequences. There followed a period of uncertainty and for years, the town lay empty with no taxes being collected.
However, due to its sheltered position from the cold north winds and its haven of peace which was formed in the shadow of Gimblet Rock, the town was rebuilt and became an important port on the coast of Cardigan Bay.
Over the centuries there followed a combination of alluvial and marine operations, that served to unite rivers Erch, Penrhos and Rhydhir by one estuary, going out into the sea past Gimblet Rock. This resulted in the formation of a shady haven on which the existing harbour resides.
During to its coastline location, Pwllheli has a strong association with the sea going back many centuries.
Pwllheli had always been widely known as the main fishing port of the Llyn. The sheltered harbour was an ideal location for the fishing boats to dock and unload their catch.
There has always been a long tradition of boat building at Pwllheli. Boasting the area’s finest craftsmen, some of the biggest and best vessels of the time were built at PWllheli. The industry remains strong here today with a number of boat builders and repairers sited in and around the new marina.
Gimblet Rock Quarry
During the 19th and early 20th century, there was huge demand for setts to pave the streets of England and granite quarries opened across the Llyn, bringing work for the men of the area. One such quarry was the Carreg yr Imbyll quarry (Gimblet Rock).
Gimblet Rock was once an island and before it was carved by the quarrymen nineteenth century, there is talk of prehistoric remains on its broad peaks. What remains of the rock today is a pale shadow of what once sat in the middle of the bay. Years of the natural gathering of alluvial drift from the seashore created what is today the promenade and Morfa’r Garreg.