The Oakeley Arms History
Discover the area’s fascinating past
From a distance, the quiet mountains that surround the Oakeley Arms stand calm, proud and magnificent, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find a noisy industrial and destructive history; one that was defined by Wales’ grey gold – the valuable Welsh slate that was dug from the quarries around Blaenau Ffestiniog in thousands of tonnes and exported all over the world.
And that story starts with the affluent Oakeley family of Tan-y-Bwlch, the grand mansion a few yards west of the Oakeley Arms Hotel.
The hotel was for a long time part of the large Oakeley estate and so its fortunes were closely linked to those of the family, and have had almost as many twists and turns.
Dating back to the 16th century, the grade two listed building is one of the most historic hotels in Wales. It has recently been lovingly restored to maintain an abundance of period features and charm, whilst providing modern and comfortable facilities.
There are some parts of the Oakeley Arms Hotel that date as far back as the 1600’s and it was originally known as the Tan y Bwlch Inn. The building as it stands today was built during the 1700’s when it was owned by a local drover and during this time it was used as a meeting place for local businessmen and as a make-shift court house and police station. Sometime during the early 1840’s it was renamed the Oakeley Arms, in honour of the estate it served.
The Oakeley Arms Hotel was auctioned off from the estate in 1910 along with 1,000 acres of land, and its fortunes too rose and fell during the twentieth century. It was given a grade II listing in 1954 because of its historical importance but by the turn of the new century was in a sad state of decay.
The current owners Ann-Marie and Chris Vanstone acquired the crumbling building in 2003, and have dedicated their working lives to restoring and refurbishing the grand hotel to its former glory.
The Oakeley Arms is proud of its distinctive crest, which has stood loyally as a symbol of the hotel since the nineteenth century. It means “I’m cautious but I do not fear”
You can read more about Plas Tan-y-Bwlch and the fortunes of the Oakeley family at www.plastanybwlch.com