Strangers travelling along a minor road south west of Mostyn are surprised to find themselves driving under a house. The structure, known as Dry Bridge Lodge, was designed and built in 1849 by the Architect Ambrose Poynter, on the instructions of Edward Pryce Lloyd, 1st Baron Mostyn. The baron was a politician and, at different times, the High Sheriff of Flintshire, Caernarvonshire and Merinoethshire.
Dry Bridge Lodge was built for Lord Mostyn's convenience when visiting Whitford. Mostyn Hall, the Baron’s country seat, had been the ancestral home since the 15th Century. The Mostyns originated from Pengwern, Llangollen in the 14th Century and over the coming years a succession of strategic marriages made them a very powerful family. In the 19th Century, the Mostyns were the biggest landowners in North Wales. An 1883 return shows their estates covered 7779 acres. When, in 1848 Owen Williams, a Liverpool architect, produced plans to build a holiday resort on salt marshes near Great Orme, the Baron was enthusiastic. Mostyn Estates owned the land and he immediately saw the potential of the idea. Victorian engineers were constructing a railway line from Crewe to Holyhead, passing along the North Wales coast and it would bring visitors. A small community already existed at Llandudno housing workers in the Great Orme copper mines and a few fishermen but it was struggling because the copper mines were almost worked out. They closed in 1850.
Baron Mostyn expanded the architect’s plans to cover 995 acres and kept tight control of what could be built. He wanted a holiday resort that was attractive as well as practical and appointed the architect George Felton to oversee all aspects of the development. A new branch line was constructed, linking Llandudno to the express train line. It opened in 1858. Leasing prime land to hoteliers and other businessmen, wanting to be involved, was profitable and the new resort grew quickly.
While Llandudno was being built, Baron Mostyn was also engaged in rebuilding his home, Mostyn Hall. The hall was extended in a Jacobean style and the park enlarged southwards, towards the village of Whitford. The baron wanted a new carriageway laid between the Hall and Whitford but to do so it had to cross a public road. His architect Poynter knew that, to please the baron, the drive needed to be private and came up with an ingenious solution; lower the road and build a bridge over it to carry the carriageway, but he didn’t stop there. Poynter constructed a gatehouse on top of the bridge.
The resulting house, known as Dry Bridge Lodge, was finished in 1849. Viewed from the road it’s a narrow two story house with battlements balanced on the bridge but, seen from the carriageway, Dry Bridge Lodge is a substantial double fronted gatehouse with an archway and tunnel, passing through its centre.
Baron Mostyn’s holiday town was a success and became a popular Victorian holiday destination. In 1864, Llandudno was named ‘Queen of the Welsh Resorts’. One famous visitor was Queen Elizabeth of Rumania. She stayed for five weeks and described the town as ‘a beautiful haven of peace,’ which translates as, ‘Hardd, havan, hedd.’ Following the queen’s visit, the Welsh translation was adopted as the town’s official motto.
Today, Llandudno is the largest seaside holiday resort in Wales, much of it still owned by Mostyn Estates. The town is a Victorian time capsule and many of the buildings have been listed as architecturally important. Dry Bridge Lodge was made a grade II* listed building in October 1969. The listing text describes the lodge as ‘One of a fine series of 19th Century lodges and gates forming the architectural setting of Mostyn Park.’ The lodge is still occupied but carriages no longer travel along the driveway and the gates are kept firmly closed.