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Llanfair Gate Tollhouse
Holyhead Road, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Anglesey, Wales, UK
Llanfair Gate Tollhouse
associated engineer
Thomas Telford
date  circa 1823
era  Georgian  |  category  Building  |  reference  SH530715
ICE reference number  HEW 457
photo  © Crown copyright: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales | © Hawlfraint y Goron: Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru
Llanfair Tollhouse, on the Isle of Anglesey, west of the Menai Bridge, is one of a number constructed for Thomas Telford’s London to Holyhead toll road, which connected London with the ferry to Ireland. Of less-common two storey design, it is the only tollhouse on this route to still have its painted toll boards. The building was recently refurbished by the Women's Institute (WI) as a museum.
In March 1810, Thomas Telford (1757-1834) was commissioned to survey and report on the existing road from London to Holyhead on the north west tip of Anglesey. The road was important politically as a mail route and communications artery between England and Ireland. Despite increases in traffic usage since the Acts of Union in 1800, it was in a poor state of repair, especially in north Wales.
Telford’s May 1811 report recommended major engineering works, reconstructing a near-level roadway, shortening the 175km route between Shrewsbury and Holyhead by 6km and building 15 tollhouses. Survey work for the road began in 1815. The Anglesey stretch was constructed in 1820-23. Its route is followed closely by the modern A5 main road.
The Anglesey section was to be the last public toll road in Britain until the M6 toll motorway opened in 2003. Though tolls were abolished in 1844 elsewhere on the Holyhead Road and the turnpike system lapsed in the 1880s, tolls were charged here until 1895. On 28th November 1895, the Anglesey tollhouses were sold and this one was bought by Henry Paget (4th Marquess of Anglesey, 1835-98).
Of the 15 tollhouses constructed between Shrewsbury and Holyhead, five were built on Anglesey. Four survive — this one, one at Gwalchmai (SH398761), one at Caergeiliog (SH304785) and one at Penrhos (SH275804), which has been moved 100m north of its original position. The Anglesey tollhouses are two storey and have three ground floor rooms with a bedroom in the upper storey. On the Welsh mainland, however, they are single storey with four rooms.
Llanfair Tollhouse has an octagonal two storey corner building with a pyramidal slate roof and central chimney. Two adjoining single storey wings feature gable-end chimneys and slate roofs. A slate-roofed verandah wraps around lower storey of there octagonal section, supported on seven cast iron posts with railings between and a gate before the entrance on the north east face. The exterior walls are whitewashed roughcast render, with casement windows. The toll boards are fixed to the upper storey.
In 1921, the tollhouse was extended with a single storey building of corrugated iron, erected as a meeting place for the WI. The WI movement, which had been established in Canada in 1897 in Canada, held its inaugural meeting in Britain on 16th September 1915, in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll.
In May 1952, Llanfair Tollhouse was Grade II listed.
After the building had spent many years in other hands, in 2012 the WI bought the tollhouse and its extension. Refurbishment included a permanent exhibition about the Telford tollhouses and toll gates on Anglesey, alongside the history of the WI.
The town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, also known as Llanfair PG or Llanfairpwll, has the longest place name in the world. When spelled out in full it has 58 letters — Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch — translated 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".
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH Wales

Llanfair Gate Tollhouse