We have one or two rather special claims to fame up here in North Wales. Brush up on your facts so that you can really impress around the dinner table…
Oldest international football ground
Wrexham holds the record for having the oldest international football ground still in use – the Glyndŵr University Racecourse Stadium. And, as you might expect, there is something of a story behind the stadium. At the end of season dinner of Denbighshire County Cricket Club on 4th October 1864 the secretary, Edward Manners, announced: “There is one thing gentlemen I wish to name – the great want of amusement in this town in winter time. It is my intention to purchase a football in the course of this week, and I shall expect a good many down to the field next Saturday.” So, Wrexham Football Club played their first ever match on 15th October that very same year against the local Prince of Wales Fire Brigade. The first international match was played at the Racecourse on March 5, 1877, when Scotland visited Wales. Unfortunately, Wales lost the game 2-0 and had to wait until 1882 for their first international victory, when they defeated Ireland 7-1.
Longest place name in Europe
Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, or Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll, is a large village on the island of Anglesey, situated on the Menai Strait next to the Britannia Bridge and across the strait from Bangor. Today it is known as Llanfair PG to the locals, but back in the 1860’s the name was actually lengthened to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerych wyrndrobwllllan tysiliogogogoch for promotional purposes. With 58 characters it is the longest place name in Europe and the second longest official one-word place name in the world, having been pipped to the post by the catchy sounding Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaunga horonukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu in New Zealand.
World’s fastest zip line
Zip World Velocity 2 at Zip World Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda, is the fastest zip line in the world and the longest in Europe. This adventure takes you on the Little Zipper to build your confidence before you journey up the quarry on the company’s famous red trucks. Take in the stunning views from the Big Top of Velocity, out towards Anglesey with views of the Isle of Man on a clear day, and take a deep breath before you descend down the Big Zipper over the quarry lake – often reaching speeds well in excess of 100mph.
First complete coastal path
OK, so while it isn’t placed solely in North Wales, The Wales Coast Path wouldn’t be what it is today without our section of coastal trails. Wales is the first country in the world to provide a dedicated footpath close to most of its coastline. The Path runs through 11 National Nature Reserves as well as a range of other nature reserves, including those managed by The Wildlife Trusts or Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Offering a 870-mile (1,400 km) walking route from Chepstow in the south to Queensferry in the north, the complete path opened in May 2012 and soon became voted as a Best in Travel destination by Lonely Planet.
The Smallest House in Great Britain
The Smallest House in Great Britain, also known as the Quay House, can be found on the quay in Conwy. The dainty house, which has a floor area just 10 by 5.9ft was used as a residence from the 16th Century until 1900, but now exists as a tourist attraction. It’s last reported occupier in 1900, Robert Jones, was apparently 6ft3 – an impressive height for that time – and the rooms were
too small for him to stand up in fully. As a result he was eventually forced to move out when the council declared the house unfit for human habitation, but the property is still owned by his descendants. Open from spring to autumn, you can’t miss the brightly painted red façade located near the Conwy Castle walls. It is open from spring to autumn. A lady dressed in traditional Welsh clothing stands outside when the house is open, and will be able to expand on the fascinating history of this little house.
Highest aqueduct in the world
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a navigable aqueduct that carries the Llangollen Canal across the River Dee in the north east of the region. The 18-arched stone and cast iron structure, which took ten years to design and build, was completed in 1805. It is now the oldest and longest navigable aqueduct in Great Britain and the highest in the world. The aqueduct, which is now is a Grade I listed building and a World Heritage Site, was to be a key part of the central section of the proposed Ellesmere Canal, an industrial waterway that would create a commercial link between the River Severn at Shrewsbury and the Port of Liverpool on the River Mersey. However, only parts of the canal route were completed because the expected revenues required to complete the entire project were never generated, meaning that the majority of work ceased after the completion of the aqueduct in 1805.
Smallest church in the UK
St Trillo's Chapel in Rhos-on-Sea was built in the 6th Century on the site of a pre-Christian, sacred holy well. It is believed that the altar is built directly over the pure water of the well, but that’s not this church’s claim to fame. Size matters here, with only six people able to fit in the building at any one time, making it the smallest church in the UK. The chapel is named after St Trillo – a saint from the 6th Century Saint who established his "Llan", an enclosure of land, in the area of Rhos-on-Sea, and the altar is built directly over a pre-Christian well. Opinion is divided about the exact age of the building, but there is little doubt that it has been rebuilt over the years. Christians have worshipped on the site for nearly 1500 years (King Maelgwn Gwynedd walked the land when the church was established and may have worshipped here) and, to this day, the site is still visited for its holy water and as a place of worship.
World’s first inland surf lagoon
Surf Snowdonia Adventure Parc is the world’s first inland surf lagoon, and the UK's only artificial surfing lake. The site, which opened in August 2015, cost a total of £12 million and served 14,000 people in its first two weeks of operation – including 3,500 people who surfed in the pool. Built on the former site of Dolgarrog Aluminium, over 25,000 cubic metres of on-site material was crushed and re-used during the construction, including the recycling of 400 tonnes of steel, cast iron and copper. Located in the picturesque Conwy Valley, the completed fresh-water lagoon at Surf Snowdonia is 300 metres long and features a head-high wave that rises at its centre – making it a reliable destination for surfers.
Britain’s longest running Punch and Judy show
While The Punch and Judy show has roots in 16th Century Italian commedia dell'arte, Llandudno is home to Britain’s longest running Punch and Judy show. The Codman family have been entertaining families with their performances for over 150 years – and for over three generations. The seaside favourite has been run by the family of Jacqueline Millband-Codman after she inherited it from her great-grandfather who started the tradition in 1860. The current show has a few contemporary twists, and is half the duration of the original, it but it pretty much sticks to the traditional plot.
One of the greatest claims to fame to come out of North Wales is that, according to legend, a Welsh prince of Gwynedd sailed from Rhos-on-Sea in 1170 and discovered America. This amazing journey took place over three hundred years before Christopher Columbus's famous voyage in 1492, and the event is recorded by a plaque on one of the properties on the sea front. According to folklore, the Welsh prince was Madog ap Owain Gwynedd, a son of Owain Gwynedd, and he took to the sea to flee domestic violence at home.