New Quay does not appear on the oldest maps of the area including that of John Speed in 1611. An early reference to 'New Key' is marked in Lewis Morris' Chart of the Coast of Wales in St George's Channel, published about 1740. In 1670, the parish of Llanllwchaern stretching from New Quay almost to Synod Inn had only 51 households. The church of St Llwchaiarn, from which the parish derives its name, was on the site of the present church in New Quay - re-built in 1865. The town today was mostly built in the 19th century. Before that there were only scattered farms and cottages in the parish and very few cottages in what is now New Quay town.



New Quay first achieved notoriety as a haunt for smuggling, and in the "Cambrian Register" of 1795 we learn that New Quay was "a place of infamous notoriety .....for no other purpose than defrauding the revenue.


Penpolion - the New Quay.

The first pier was built in the 1690's from wooden stakes and boulders. It gave its name to the settlement of New Quay - sometimes shown on old maps as 'New Key' and today in Welsh as 'Ceinewydd'.


Shipbuilding began in New Quay at the end of the eighteenth century. Local landowner John Evans commissioned the sloop ‘Peggy and Betsy’ built in New Quay in 1787. Other recorded early New Quay vessels were the ‘Thomas and Mary’ a sloop of 24 tons, The ‘Jenny’, a sloop of 24 tons and the ‘Robust’, a sloop of 27 tons. Such boats were important in the carriage of limestone, used at various locations on the coast to make lime for agriculture. There were lime kilns at Cei Bach just along from New Quay, and also at nearby Llangrannog and Llanrhystud. The kilns at Cei Bach have been washed away by the sea, but the others remain intact.

Cei Bach

Ship building at Cei Bach

Cei Bach, just around Llanina Point from New Quay was an important location for boat building.


The Ann Warren

The Ann Warren was a 75 ton schooner, built by Owen Owens at Traethgwyn and owned by Evan Phillips. Photo at Aberdovey.

Cei Bach

The Patent Slip at New Quay

The retaining wall for the patent slip was built in 1863. This photo dates from 1870 and shows a sloop on the slip (at left). Note the thatched cottages on Glanmor Terrace.

patent slip today

The Patent Slip today

Today the site of the Patent Slip is now the home of Cardigan Bay watersports. The steel rails and cradle for launching boats have all gone.


The Pier was built after 1834 when Daniel Beynon was invited to submit a plan which was carried out after the formation of the New Quay Harbour Company. The small stone lighthouse, 30 feet high, was not built until 1839 and was placed at the end of the pier. It was known locally as the 'Pepper Pot' - an item that it clearly resembled. A severe storm in 1859 damaged the pier and washed the lighthouse away. It was rebuilt but destroyed a second time almost 80 years later during another severe storm on 28th February 1937. The pier was built from Rock carried from a quarry at the end of Rock street (known as Rock Terrace) on rail tracks, a tiny portion of which remains today behind Gingeros cafe.



This is the rebuilt 'Pepper Pot' lighthouse at the end of the pier in New Quay before it was finally washed away in 1937.

toll boards

Toll Boards on the pier

These toll boards show fees payable for landing cargo - including five shillings for a pianoforte or barrel organ! .


The boat building industry required many tradesmen including ropemakers, sailmakers, blacksmiths, blockmakers, carpenters, and joiners. This new prosperity brought in many new tradespersons and their consequent households - in all 80 between 1841 and 1851. This increasing population required many services, so there were now weavers, dressmakers, tailors, shoemakers, cobblers and publicans. There have been some 24 pubs in New Quay over time, among the oldest being the Black Lion and the Dolau on Church Street. Fishing was also important in the past.


The Herring fishery

A survey in 1748 notes that the herring industry in Cardigan bay employed 97 small sloops. The record catch was made on October 5th 1745 when 47 boats took just under one and a half million fish!



There were 6 smithies in New Quay in 1851, not only to provide the metal work and chains for boats but for horses and carts and the shoeing of horses.


Early transport was by horse and cart or by boat. Visitors had been coming to New Quay in small numbers aboard steamers from Liverpool and Bristol. However, the increased ease of transportation by land into the area, brought about the next phase of New Quay's development. Lodging houses started to appear in New Quay and visitors wrote glowingly of its benefits. One visitor wrote in the 'Christian World' of 1885: ' ..a little town, white in the bright sunshine, built along the steep sides of a shimmering Bay.....this little town was the quaintest most picturesque one could wish to see.

GWR depost

GWR depot on Church Street

After the train stations were opened in Aberaeron and Llanysul, Great Western Railways brought travellers to New Quay from the stations.

GWR bus

GWR Bus .

This 1907 bus carried visitors to New Quay from Llandysul station.


GWR's Steamship the S.S.Atalanta

The Atalanta is shown here discharging visitors from the North West - probably from Liverpool.


New Quay ladies day out.

The motorised charabanc was the earliest version of the bus, and was often used for outings or day trips. Photo taken at 'Oriel House' on the corner of Francis Street.


The first printed Guide book to New Quay was :'Being a short description of New Quay as a watering Place,' printed in Lampeter by the Welsh Press in 1885. Horse drawn buses brought visitors from the stations at Aberystwyth and Llandysul in the 1890's. It is noted that by 1895 New Quay had some 10,000 visitors in the year. A considerable change in recent years has been the immense growth of the caravan industry in the areas around New Quay, along the coast towards Gilfachreda and along the Llandysul Road at Cross Inn. The greatest impact being on land at Hengell Farm behind Traethgwyn from New Quay to Cnwc y Lili - known in the sixties as 'Hengell Park and today as the Quay West Holiday Park.

Bathing tents

Beach tents on 'The Sands' at New Quay

Changing tents were used from the turn of the twentieth century. There is no evidence that the wheeled 'bathing machines' were ever used in New Quay.

The beach in 1906

New Quay Harbour Beach in 1906

This is a hand-coloured poscard from Desmond's of Cardigan.


The Pier in about 1938

The dinghies are all still clinker built - no fibreglass or inflatables in sight!.


The Harbour Beach in 1960.

Before the pier was extended, the cruise boats would load passengers from the beach using wooden planks.

Traeth Gwyn

Traethgwyn - The two Bays

This is Traethgwyn before the first caravan / camping parks apeared.


Raymond Caravan Park

Before Quay West, there were probably 2 or 3 separate caravan/camping parks including Hengell, and Raymond.

Church Street

Hengell caravan Park

Raymond Caravan Park goes on to become Hengell Caravan Park.


Holimarine Holiday Village in the 1960s.

Holimarine went out of business in 1995, and in 1996 the park was sold to Bourne Leisure and later became Quay West.

West Wales Cottages / West Wales Caravans - Nant y Gido, New Quay SA45 9TR

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