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Betws-y-Coed website finds 364 misspellings of name in search engine

By Chris Dearden
BBC News

image captionBetws-y-Coed in Conwy is a popular place for visitors as it is in Snowdonia

People searching for information about the Conwy village Betws-y-Coed on its tourist website typed 364 different misspellings of the name.

Website managers discovered the wrong search terms included "Betsy Cowed" to "Bwtsy Code".

Kevin Jones, who runs the website, said he had thought there may have been around 30 misspellings in a year but was "astounded" when he found so many.

"I'd like to know if any other place in the UK is as misspelt," he said.

Mr Jones said he was amazed that all the people who wrote the name wrongly into a search engine had got to the website.

"Some of the names were unrecognisable," he said.

"But my criteria for counting the misspellings was that at least three people would have spelt it that way - and that they had viewed pages on the website after using them.

"I think we must be the most misspelt place names in the UK - I challenge people to let me know if we're not."

Mr Jones himself pronounced Betws-y-Coed wrong when he arrived in the Snowdonia village, which is popular with tourists, with plans to set up a B&B after serving in the air force.

"I called it 'Betsy-Cowed' and someone else had told me, 'Why don't you set up a B&B in Betsy-Cowed, it's lovely there'.

"But when I got here, someone said to me: 'If you want to run a business here, at least pronounce it right.'"

Since then, Mr Jones has encountered numerous mispronunciations during phone calls and misspellings in letters.

He decided to check how many times it was spelt wrong in search engines over a year in 2011 after he noticed a few mistakes.

"I thought if there was 30 I'd send a tweet out about it.

"I was astounded when there were 364 - I was hoping I'd get another one so there'd be a misspelling for every day of the year. But I couldn't under the criteria I'd set myself."

"I think part of the reason for the mistake is historical," he said.

image captionTourism leaders don't think the spelling issue will put people off visiting the village

"People have spoken to each other giving it the wrong name for a long time - Betsy-Cowed."

Eileen Burtonwood, chair of the Betws-y-Coed and district tourism association, said: "I couldn't believe how many different versions there were, quite honestly. I would have guessed there would be 50 or 60, but not 364.

"The staggering thing is that when we totalled them up, we only counted versions which had been used by at least three different people."

Ms Burtonwood, who runs the Tan Dinas bed and breakfast in the village, said most people who'd searched for the website - over 25,000 - had managed to spell the village's name correctly.

But she doesn't believe the spelling issue will put people off coming to Betws-y-Coed, which means prayer-house in the wood in English.

"It might be more of a problem if they were already in the area, and were asking for directions to 'Betsy Coed'. But most of the locals are used to visitors having trouble saying the name, and take it in good humour."

She joined Mr Jones in throwing down a challenge to other towns and villages in the UK to see if there's anywhere else where the name has been spelled so many different ways.

She added: "I'm sure there's a few contenders here in Wales, and plenty in England, like Keighley, Haworth and even Loughborough, which are easy to get wrong."

More on this story

  • List of 364 Betws-y-Coed spellings

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