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The pages of Americymru became heated last week following an appeal on the site to sign a petition against the siting of an exhibition about the Princes of Gwynedd in a public toilet, which was felt to be disrespectful and demeaning to Welsh history. Some comments were passionate reflecting the deep offence that had been taken; others saw it as an opportunity to make toilet jokes, and others thought it was justified if it meant keeping a public convenience open in these days of cutbacks and closures of such facilities. Because I live only 20 minutes away I decided to visit the site, to take some pictures and let people make their own conclusion when given more information.
I was very impressed with the exhibition, which was located not in the toilet but in an old pump-house (Ty Pwmp) on the edge of the conservation area in Abergwyngregyn village. It was financed by Cadw, Snowdonia National Park, Countryside Commission for Wales, The Welsh Government and others and was formally opened by the local AM Alun Ffred Jones on 11 November. It was located alongside the stream that runs from Aber Falls a couple of miles distant in beautifully landscaped surroundings. The building itself is rather nondescript, but inside it is well-lit and there are beautifully produced and interpreted panels about the Princes of Gwynedd. In one corner of the room there is public toilet cubicle but it is clearly just an amenity in the facility. Any exhibition, museum or gallery contains a public toilet and I think it was mendacious of some of the critics to say this exhibition had been located in a toilet.
I studied Welsh history at Bangor University and I didn't see anything on the panels that conflicted with what I had been taught. I understand that some scholars take issues with some of the interpretation but this is an exhibition for the general public and does not go into great levels of scholarship. My wife came with me on our visit and she thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition. She would never claim to be knowledgeable about Welsh history but felt she had come away with new knowledge that the Princes had a palace just a short distance from our home.
One of the great things about living in Gwynedd has been how often one meets interpretive plaques and how much help they are to understanding the area in which we live. I have learned a lot about South Stack, the burial chamber at Bryn Celli Du, the Llys at Newborough, and about the Dinorwig quarry area from the excellent interpretation provided in Parc Padarn. I believe the interpretation in the Ty Pwmp in Abergwngregyn makes a huge contribution to the understanding of the Heritage of the Princes of Gwynedd.
Believing that a picture is worth 1000 words, I append below a series of pictures taken today at the exhibition and I’d be very interested to hear what others think.