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House History

Do you need help getting started with the history of your house? Before visiting Conwy Archives, take a look at this handy guide to our resources.

These are some of the collections of records we have which may help you...

Census Returns

You can search the census between 1841 and 1911 on websites like Ancestry and Findmypast. We have free access to both of these in Conwy Archives and Libraries. There was no census in 1941, but there is a very useful record called the 1939 Register which has similar information to a census. Census information is open to the public after 100 years - FindMyPast has recently digitised the 1921 census but unfortunately they are not yet allowing free access via library and archive accounts.

You can search for your address in the census, and find the names, ages and occupations of previous occupants. It can also help you to date your property, or discover different house names it may have had.

Rate Books

These give a list of owners and occupiers of all rateable properties in a local authority area. We have a fuller series for the former Aberconwy area than for the former Colwyn area. These cover the 1860s to the 1990s, with many gaps.

Architects’ and Builders’ Records

We have the records of the architect Colwyn Foulkes and of the Llandudno building contractor Frank Tyldesley, among others. These could show the original building or alterations, extensions and repairs.

Building Control Plans

These were submitted to the local authority for permission to build. They may include plans, elevations and sections of your property when it was first built or altered. We have a large series from the former Aberconwy area, including Conwy Borough and Urban District Council from about 1885 to the 1950s, and others including Nant Conwy, Llanrwst, Penmaenmawr and Betws-y-Coed.

We also have printed and microfilm copies of Mostyn Estate plans from 1776 to 1959.

Electoral Registers

These began in 1832, but the right to vote was only gradually extended to include women in 1928. We have microfilm copies for the former Caernarfonshire Wards from 1921 to 1956 (with gaps), and we have the original registers from 1938 onwards for electoral wards within both Aberconwy and Colwyn Boroughs (with gaps). These boroughs now form Conwy County Borough Council. They will show who used to live in your house, and may help you discover when it was built.

Wills and Administrations

We have some original wills, probates of wills and administrations – these could help you find out who owned a property previously, and who inherited it.

Directories

These books list residents and tradespeople in the larger towns and villages. We have street directories for various years and areas from 1844 to 1974 (with gaps). North Wales Directories 1818 to 1936 are also available. These are useful for finding out who used to live in your house, and whether it used to have a different name.

Title Deeds

You may be lucky and find information about your house in old title deeds and mortgages in solicitors’ records. If we have them, they will show changes in ownership of your property.

Photographs and Prints

We have thousands of photographs and prints, and it’s worth asking us what we have for your area. If your house isn’t named in the catalogue, there might still be a photograph of it, particularly if it’s on a high street or an old tram route.

Ordnance Survey Maps

These can help to pinpoint when a house was built, and may show building, locality and name changes. The 25 inch and 6 inch editions are available in 4 editions: c.1888, 1900, 1912-1913 and 1937.

Whilst we may not have all the editions of each sheet, we can usually provide at least 2 for comparison purposes for the whole of Conwy County. We also have the National Grid series of maps from about 1955 to 1995.

Tithe Records

If you can see your house on the earliest edition of an Ordnance Survey map, it’s worth looking at the Tithe Maps and Schedules. These show historical land ownership, occupation and use.

We have some originals, and paper copies for all of Conwy County. You can also search information for the whole of Wales here.

Land Tax

We have land tax records for part of the county on microfilm from 1746 to 1812, and in book form from 1910 to 1956. If your property was connected with land ownership, you might be able to find out who its owners and occupiers were.

Online Catalogue

There are all sorts of other records to discover - have a look at our online catalogue.