Llwyngwril was reputedly named after the lowland giant Gwril. According to legend, he had a cousin named Idris who was the upland giant who lived on a nearby mountain called Cadair Idris (Idris’ Chair) The legend tells how these 2 giants threw stones at each other as they did not get on. This accounts for the standing stones which are visible over the mountain.
The original settlement was situated further up the river valley. From approximately half a mile inland, for about a mile, there are various medieval settlement ruins to be seen. From archaeological evidence and research carried out in the surrounding area, it is known that people had settled here by 700BC.
The River Gwril
The river Gwril is an important part of the village history. In years gone by it was the heart of the village, working two corn mills, leats to Pentre Bach and Henblas drove water wheels to churn butter. Two additional leats fed water wheels at Hendre Hall and Borthwen for grinding corn, branching again to feed the old Smithy which is now a residential property by the red bridge.
Up until the early 1900’s. There was a quay near the river mouth where sailing boats would unload their cargo of coal and lime rocks. Bales of wool were collected as outward cargo and transported to the merchants. There was also a regular Tuesday delivery of herrings by boat from Pwllheli to the village.
A dam situated about 1 mile up the valley was built in 1940 to accommodate the extra water requirements for the Marine camp. (now Sunbeach holiday site) It is 525ft above sea level and made of red brick topped with concrete. In 1867, a pipe was laid from above the weir (by Ffordd Coleg) to the railway station to feed the steam engines with water. The river also supplied the village with electricity via a water turbine until 1961.
The village has a rich history and close links with the Quaker community who fled to this area in the 17th Century to avoid religious persecution in England. The Quaker burial ground is near the beach path. Most left the area with William Penn to sail to the New World to seek a home and religious freedom. Penn was a Quaker convert and devoted himself to good works and in 1682, obtained a special grant from King Charles II permitting him to sail to America where he founded Pennsylvania. Of the Quakers who left Wales for Pennsylvania in the 17th Century, about half came from Merionydd.
Village businesses and schools
Up until the latter part of the 1900’s, the village had 3 grocers, 3 bank branches, a butchers, a hardware store, a hairdressers, a wool shop, newsagents, a café, a DIY shop, post office, petrol station and motor repair shop. In the early to mid 1900’s there was also a blacksmith, a carpenter, electrical shop, photographer, a haberdashery, and a fish and chip shop. Sadly, the improvement of transport systems has totally altered the way of life and caused a rapid decline of the businesses.
There have been 3 schools in the village. The first was the Church rooms (now the Gallery holiday accommodation). It was built in 1831 and continued as the village school until 1873 when the Ganolfan was built and became the home of the second village school (now the village community Centre and home to the Yarnbombing project). It closed in 1965 when a new school was built at the southern end of the village. This also closed in 2013 and village children now travel to the new purpose-built Ysgol Craig y Deryn school in Llanegryn, a few miles down the road.