Bangor (English: //; Welsh: [ˈbaŋɡɔr]) is a city in Gwynedd unitary authority, northwest Wales. It is the oldest city in Wales and one of the smallest cities in the United Kingdom. Historically in Caernarfonshire, it is a university city with a population of 18,808 at the 2011 census, including around 10,500 students at Bangor University and including Pentir community. It is one of only six places classed as a city in Wales, although it is only the 25th-largest urban area by population. According to the 2001 census, 46.6% of the non-student resident population speak Welsh, which is low for Gwynedd but despite this, the language keeps a high profile in the city.
The origins of the city date back to the founding of a monastic establishment on the site of Bangor Cathedral by the Celtic saint Deiniol in the early 6th century AD. Bangor itself is an old Welsh word for a wattled enclosure, such as the one that originally surrounded the cathedral site. The present cathedral is a somewhat more recent building and has been extensively modified throughout the centuries.
While the building itself is not the oldest, and certainly not the biggest, the bishopric of Bangor is one of the oldest in the UK. Another claim to fame is that Bangor allegedly has the longest High Street in Wales and the United Kingdom. Friars School was founded as a free grammar school in 1557, and the University College of North Wales (later Bangor University) was founded in 1884.
In 1877, the former HMS Clio became a school ship, moored on the Menai Strait at Bangor, and had 260 pupils. Closed after the end of hostilities of World War I, she was sold for scrap and broken up in 1919.
Bangor has been unique outside of England in using the title of 'city' by ancient prescriptive right. However, city status was officially conferred on it by the Queen in 1974.
In June 2012 Bangor was the first ever city in the UK to impose a city centre wide night time curfew on under-16s. The six-month trial was brought in by Gwynedd Council and North Wales police, but opposed by civil rights groups.
Bangor lies on the coast of North Wales near the Menai Strait which separates the island of Anglesey from Gwynedd unitary authority, the town of Menai Bridge lying just over the strait. The combined population of the two amounts to 22,184 people. Bangor Mountain lies to the east of the main part of the city, but the large housing estate of Maesgeirchen, originally built as council housing, is to the east of the mountain near Port Penrhyn.
Bangor Mountain casts a shadow across the High Street, Glan Adda and Hirael areas, so that from November to March some parts of the High Street in particular receive no direct sunlight. Another ridge rises to the north of the High Street, dividing the city centre from the south shore of the Menai Strait; this area is known as Upper Bangor (Bangor Uchaf).
Bangor has two rivers within its boundaries. The River Adda is a largely culverted watercourse which only appears above ground at its western extremities near the Faenol estate, whilst the River Cegin enters Port Penrhyn at the eastern edge of the city. Port Penrhyn was an important port in the 19th century, exporting the slates produced at the Penrhyn Quarry.
Classical music is performed regularly in Bangor, with concerts given in the Powis and Prichard-Jones Halls as part of the university's Music at Bangor concert series. The city is also home to Storiel (the new name for the Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery). A new arts centre complex, Pontio, the replacement for Theatr Gwynedd, was scheduled for completion in the summer of 2014, but the opening was delayed until November 2015.
Garth Pier is the second longest pier in Wales, and the ninth longest in the British Isles, at 1,500 feet (460 m) in length. It was opened in 1893 and was a promenade pier, for the amusement of holiday-makers who could stroll among the pinnacle-roofed kiosks.
In 1914 it was struck by a vessel that had broken free of its moorings. The damaged section was repaired temporarily by the Royal Engineers, but when in 1922, a permanent repair was contemplated, it was found that the damage was more severe than had been thought. The repairs were made at considerable cost and the pier remained open until 1974 when it was nearly condemned as being in poor condition. It was sold for a nominal price to Arfon Borough Council who proposed to demolish it, but the County Council, encouraged by local support, ensured that it survived by obtaining Grade II Listed building status for it.
When it was listed that year, the British Listed Buildings inspector considered it to be "the best in Britain of the older type of pier without a large pavilion at the landward end". Restoration work took place between 1982 and 1988, and the pier was re-opened to the public on 7 May 1988. In November 2011, essential repair work was reported to be required, the cost being estimated at £2 million. A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund was sought but the application was rejected.
The Cathedral Church of St Deiniol is a Grade I Listed building and is set in a sloping oval churchyard. The site has been used for Christian worship since the sixth century but the present building dates from the twelfth century. It has a two-bay chancel, transepts, a crossing tower, a seven-bay nave and a tower at the west end.
The Archdeacon's House in Bangor was the setting for act 3, scene I of William Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1.
Bangor has a central shopping area around the High Street, and retail outlets on Caernarfon Road, on the outskirts of the city. One of these is St. David's Retail Park, built on the site of the demolished St David's maternity hospital.
In 1865, Morris Wartski, a refugee from the Tsarist pogroms, first established a jewellery business on Bangor's High Street, and then a drapery store. His son, Isidore, went on to develop the drapery business and to create a large, fashionable, store. He also redeveloped the Castle Inn on High Street in Bangor, which then became the high-class Castle Hotel.
Wartski was a very popular mayor of the city and a great patron of local sports and charities. Wartski Fields were bequeathed to the city and people of Bangor by his widow, Winifred Marie, in memory of Isidore Wartski.
Bangor is located within Gwynedd, the most Welsh-speaking county in Wales, in which 65.4% of people over age three said they could speak Welsh according to the 2011 Census. However, Bangor has, for a relatively long time, been significantly more Anglicised than its hinterland and the rest of Gwynedd in general, mostly because of the large student population. While notable nearby towns in Gwynedd, such as Bethesda and Caernarfon were still more than 75% and 80% Welsh speaking, respectively, in 2011, Bangor was already only 53.4% Welsh speaking as early as 1971.
In 2011, only 36% of the population of Bangor said they could speak Welsh; a significant decrease from the 46% recorded at the 2001 Census. However, that does not necessarily mean that 36% of the towns population speaks Welsh habitually or that such a figure is true of all age groups; reports of the local primary schools suggest that as few as 25% of school children speak Welsh as their main language at home. This does, however vary significantly from primary school to primary school. In 2015, of those pupils 5 years and over, the following percentages spoke Welsh fluently at home:
The reasons for this are that the city has for long been the most cosmopolitan settlement in Gwynedd, attracting the most incomers from both England and further afield, with Bangor University being a key institution. At the 2011 Census, 49.3% of Bangor's population was born outside Wales. Nevertheless, a majority of the City's inhabitants were able to speak Welsh beyond the 1971 Census, and Welsh certainly was the majority vernacular of the town in the Interwar Period; at the 1921 Census, 75.8% of Bangor's inhabitants could speak Welsh with 68.4% of those aged 3–4 being able to, indicating that Welsh was being transmitted to the youngest generation in most homes. The 1931 Census showed little change, with 76.1% of the overall population being able to speak Welsh.
Ysbyty Gwynedd is located in Bangor in the suburb of Penrhosgarnedd. It has 432 beds, making it smaller than the other district general hospitals in Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (after Wrexham Maelor Hospital with 629 beds and Ysbyty Glan Clwyd near Rhyl with 466 beds. It houses the headquarters of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
Bangor has a long-established football team, Bangor City F.C. which competes in the national Welsh Premier League (formerly League of Wales). Bangor City have won this league on three occasions (1994, 1995, 2011) and been continuous members of the league since its inception. Bangor City have also won the Welsh Cup eight times, most recently in the 2010 competition. Before 1992 they were members of the English football pyramid, peaking with the Northern Premier League title in 1982 and being FA Trophy runners-up in 1984. They have also competed in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup three times (including its final season, 1998-99, before being merged into the UEFA Cup), UEFA Champions League twice, and UEFA Cup five times, though they have not progressed far in any of the European competitions.
Many Bangor fans have been seen to have anger towards the Welsh FA for forcing Bangor into the Welsh Premier League when there are other Welsh teams in the English pyramid system. Bangor is also home to rugby union team Bangor RFC who play in the WRU Division Two North league. As well as the town's team, the university boasts a very competitive rugby union team, of which won the title in its BUCS league in mid 2016.
Bangor is home to a small BBC broadcasting centre, producing a large amount of output for BBC Radio Cymru. The studios are also the main North-West Wales newsroom for television, radio and on-line. The BBC's Light Entertainment Department moved to Bangor during World War II and many classic programmes (like It's That Man Again) came from Bangor.
Bangor was also previously home to two commercial radio stations, Heart Cymru (serving Anglesey and Gwynedd) and the now-defunct Heart North Wales Coast (serving the North Wales Coast), which shared studio facilities on the Parc Menai office complex - the studios were closed in August 2010 after the stations were moved to Wrexham.
In 1967, The Beatles came to Bangor, staying in Dyfrdwy, one of the halls comprising Adeilad Hugh Owen (Hugh Owen Building), now part of the Management Centre, for their first encounter with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, during which visit they learned of the death of their manager Brian Epstein.
On 24 February 2010 BBC Radio 1's The Chris Moyles Show announced Bangor as the location for Radio 1's Big Weekend concert festival. The morning show was broadcast on location from Bangor, with the announcement as well as a portion of the lineup being revealed. Big international acts such as Rihanna, MGMT, Kesha and Alicia Keys played as well as homegrown British acts like Biffy Clyro, Pixie Lott, Cheryl Cole, Pendulum and Dizzee Rascal.
The City of Bangor Council serves the people of the city, created in 1974 following Bangor assuming city status. Twenty councillors are elected from the eight electoral wards in the city, namely: Deiniol (2), Dewi (3), Garth (2), Glyder (3), Hendre (2), Hirael (2), Marchog (3) and Menai (3). In 2017 half of the seats were won by Plaid Cymru. The city also elects eight county councillors to Gwynedd Council.
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