The Sailors' Institute and the Tŷ Gwyn Museum
remain closed until further notice.
1st September 2020
Barmouth Sailors' Institute is a unique building and is an important part of Barmouth's Maritime history.
The building is a rare survivor of a type of establishment that was once common in coastal communities throughout the British Isles in the late nineteenth century. This was a period when the seagoing trades around the British coasts were changing rapidly. The advancement of the railway into rural areas undermined the once lively coastal trade.
However, seafarers from the remotest coastal areas did not forsake the sea but instead, began to take up berths on deep sea ships sailing from the larger ports such as London, Hull, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool and Cardiff. The majority of their families remained in their native community where in the past they had been able to observe the seaborne movements of their menfolk on local voyages.
In order that they could continue to trace the new voyages, many seamen's institutes came into existence, not just as a meeting place but also where the Lloyds List and Shipping Gazette were available for consultation. From these, the families could trace the lengthy voyages which could last up to two years.
In 1890 Canon Edward Hughes, the Rector of Barmouth at the time would have established the Barmouth Sailors' Institute for just this reason. He was very well known for his endeavour to meet both the spiritual and social needs of his parishioners.
A set of sea charts was presented to the Rector of Llanaber (also of Barmouth) for the use of seamen of Barmouth in remembrance of their friend George Quartus Pine Talbot. They date back to 1823 and are housed in a special wall cabinet; some have voyages charted on them.
The Billiard Room provided relaxation for some folk whilst others played dominoes, chess or draughts in the Reading Room. There were team snooker competitions with an annual Christmas Goose tournament. The interest in using the snooker table has increased once again and the latter tournament was revived for Christmas 2003. However, due to costs, the "Goose" was replaced by a turkey!
Over the years, being of timber construction, the building fell into a state of disrepair. In 1982 a valiant band of volunteers obtained funding from the Prince's Trust and stemmed the tide. By January 2005 sufficient grant aid was secured to do a full restoration and the building was returned as near as possible to how it was when first established in 1890.
It conforms to current day electrical, heating, fire and security requirements and hopefully will be standing for many future generations.
The building is disable friendly but has no access for wheelchairs.
(The Front door has a step and therefore is not suitable for wheelchair access, however the rear fire access can be accessed when the gate at bottom is unlocked.)
In the Reading Room daily newspapers, magazines, etc. may be read. The many photographs and artefacts on display portray Barmouth's maritime heritage. Membership is open to everyone - it is not a requirement to have any connection with the sea. For just £5 a year you could help preserve this recently restored unique building for many years to come.
The Institute is a Registered Charity and has full Accreditation status with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.
In 2017 the Institute obtained a grant to help with the replacement of it's Heating Boiler. This grant was funded by Welsh Government, and the Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales.