North West Wales

Llanfairpwll toll house rescued by Women's Institute

A toll gate which hosted some of the first Women's Institute (WI) meetings will be restored and become a museum.

The building in the Anglesey village of Llanfairpwll will house an exhibition on the Thomas Telford toll gates, as well as the history of the WI.

The WI began in 1915 in Llanfairpwll - although that is probably not the village's biggest claim to fame.

It is better known for its full name -Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Also commonly referred to as Llanfair PG, it is recognised across the world for its full, 58-character spelling, and apparently endless railway station sign.

However, the village deserves recognition for the first WI meeting, a year into World War One. That was at the home of one of the members just down the road from the toll house.

By 1920 the institute decided it needed a new home and it moved to the building next door to the toll house, and used the kitchen in the toll gate.

The toll gate was later sold to the local council and was let to tenants for many years.

Four years ago the WI on Anglesey decided it would like to buy the place and has just signed a 25-year lease with the council.

'So exciting'

"It's so exciting and I'm very much looking forward to taking it on," said Audrey Jones, the Anglesey WI chair.

"It has been very difficult to get the toll house but it has been worth all the hard work," she added.

The intention is to refurbish the toll gate, which is a Grade II listed building, by painting the outside and setting up the permanent exhibition inside.

Image caption One of the first WI meetings at the toll gate c. 1920

A grant of £25,000 has been obtained through the regeneration project Menter Mon to carry out the work.

The institute has also been granted official change of use for the building.

"The museum will feature the history of the WI as well as that of the Telford toll gates on Anglesey.

"There used to be five of them between Menai Bridge and Holyhead but only three of them can now be seen.

"Everyone has been very supportive because the feeling is that it should be available to the public.

"It's important, it's historical, and we've got it now," she added.

Image caption The name translates from Welsh as "St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio of the red cave"

Elfyn Roberts, the community development officer with Anglesey economic regeneration body Menter Mon, said it was an unique project.

"The new exhibition is going to make the building so much more attractive to both visitors and local people," he added.

Work on the toll gate will begin in the new year and should be completed by spring.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites