Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Prime Ministers that came to North Wales on holiday.

David Cameron came to North Wales on holiday this Easter. The Daily Mail in their typical 'glass half-full' style painted a picture of the PM having a rather glum time of things. They included this less than complimentary photograph of David Cameron having a pint at Morfa Nefyn:

The Daily Mail entitled their piece 'Wish you weren't here'. Yet they are so wrong as North Wales is just about the best place any Prime Minister can visit for some well-deserved rest. And the weather only adds to the beauty of the place. The beer is good too. There is quite a tradition of Prime Ministers visiting North Wales on holiday. The great 19th century Prime Minister W.E.Gladstone visited Penmaenmawr on a dozen different occasions and brought welcome publicity to that town. Of course Gladstone himself lived in North Wales, so a journey to Penmaenmawr was relatively easy, even in the 19th century.

Gladstone's holidays are still remembered in Penmaenmawr.

I will mention Lloyd George shortly. My favourite Prime Minister and North Wales story involves H.H.Asquith. He was Prime Minister from 1908 to 1916. During that time he fell in love with a girl 40 years younger than himself, Venetia Stanley. Her family owned a large house in Penrhos, near Holyhead. Asquith wrote hundreds of letters to Venetia (sometimes even while Cabinet was in session) and he managed to get invited to Stanley family holidays in Penrhos. Asquith was married to Margot (who was 12 years his junior); they had numerous children from other marriages. Nevertheless Asquith's infatuation with Venetia was to last for many years and their holidays in North Wales were an important opportunity for them to meet socially. Venentia would eventually break Asquith's heart, but that is another story.

A poor quality image, but Venetia and the prime Minister in Holyhead.

Even Winston Churchill got an invite to the Stanley North Wales holiday retreat, although this was at least three decades before he would become PM.

I am not convinced that Lloyd George found North Wales that relaxing as he seemed to prefer the high life in London and Surrey. Perhaps there were too many skeletons in too many cupboards. Inevitably, as a North Wales MP he had to visit from time to time. A year after relinquishing his role as Prime Minister he came to Caerwys. I walk by this spot every day and think of the great Welsh Prime Minister visiting my home town on holiday, where he stayed with the former North Wales MP, Sir John Herbert Lewis.

So there is quite a tradition of Prime Ministers visiting North Wales to find peace and beautiful scenery. The Daily Mail, as so often is the case, got it completely wrong and did this part of the world no favours as the vital tourist season approaches.


  1. What he didn't realise was that someone from behind the bar at TŷCoch did add a little something extra to his drink!!. Had the desired effect. What a prat.

    Really pleased if the Daily Mail keeps their readers away from Pen LLyn; we don’t want them here as we manage very nicely thank you to attract a type of visitor who wouldn’t be seen dead with a copy of their publication.

    1. What a stupid comment, undeserved by your very interesting post.

  2. my friend saw him in porthmadog