• Graham Watkins

Tan y Coed - A Smoker's Retreat.

Sir Charles Woodall, a shipping tycoon from Manchester, lived in Tan y Coed Hall, Colwyn Bay during the 19th Century. He was a passionate pipe smoker, a habit that his wife thoroughly disapproved of. When she banned him from smoking in the house, the magnate decided to build a sanctuary where he could escape from being nagged and puff away contentedly.

Tan y Coed Welsh Folly

The unusually shaped refuge that resulted was completed in 1894. Sir Charles’ new smoking room was a three sided folly castle complete with corbelled turrets and arrow slits, presumably to deter his wife should she try and visit.

After Sir Charles had departed, the folly was converted into a café and sweet shop. During the Second World War, Tan y Coed folly was occupied by the military and used to watch for enemy aircraft. No longer needed when the war ended, it was boarded up and forgotten.

Tan y Coed Hall was demolished in the 1970s and the surrounding land developed for housing. In 1991, a campaign was started to save the, by then, derelict mock castle. A year later, Clwyd Historic Buildings Preservation Trust purchased the folly for £1 and spent a further £65,000 restoring it, their plan being to sell it afterwards as a house.


Today, Tan Y Coed folly castle stands in a small municipal garden, surrounded by modern houses. Viewed from the road, the medieval style folly is an attractive building and it is easy to imagine Sir Charles relaxing inside while enjoying his pipe.