History of Bodnant
There was a Roman fort called Canovium on the West Bank of the River Conwy close to the crossing at Tal y Cafn. The Road from Caernafon (Sergontium) to Chester (Deva) passed within 200m of Furnace Farm.
Post Roman Occupation
This was a time of myths and legends. There was, it was said, a huge animal called a “Garrog”, ( it was like a dragon with wings and claws and eyes like flames) living in the woods and ravines close to the River Conwy. It would often come to the meadows of Dolgarrog and occasionally cross the river and terrify the villagers of Eglwysbach. It was finally killed by a local chieftain, Bach ap Corwedd with an arrow fired from the tower of the village church.
Early years of the farm
The farm dates from the 16th century and may have formed part of the Pennant Estate. By the mid-17th century, the farm had passed to the Wynne family. In 1782 it became the property of Pierce Wynne Yorke and was sold in 1809 to Colonel Forbes for the sum of £1800. Most of the farm buildings date from the 18th century. The building that now forms the Tea Room with the round columns was added between 1821 and 1841
The Furnace at Pwll y Calch
The blast furnace was established in the early 18th century. Water used to provide power was provided by a mill race that dated back to Tudor times. Sometime before 1830 an evil spirit invaded the foundry destroying the quality of the work. The workers were so frightened, nobody would work there and the furnace fell silent by 1841.
The estate including the farm was bought in 1874 by Henry Pochin and in 1880 he made Furnace into the Home Farm. The hill behind the farm was planted with trees and the estate bull was kept at the farm. In the 1880’s he renovated the farmhouse adding the front bays and also built two silos which have been converted into the “bat house” for the resident lesser horseshoe and also brown long-eared bats.
The Twentieth Century
After Henry Pochin’s death, the farm was let until 1932.
During the Second World War, the house was requisitioned from 1939 until 1945 to house evacuees initially from Scotland Road in Liverpool then in 1944 from London (They used to burn the furniture to keep warm). The laundry was requisitioned by the Home Guard and the farm was rented out to the daughters of a Manchester town councillor. They had one of the first tractors to come to the UK as part of the US lend-lease arrangements.
After the war, it once again became the home farm for the estate with electricity being connected in 1947. Farming ceased in the late 60’s and the farmhouse and outbuildings then gradually fell into disrepair.
Restoration started in 2010 to create Bodnant Welsh Foods which is now employing 60+ people on site. Visit our photo gallery to take a look around.