The Colwyn Bay and Pwllycrochan Estate Company owned the land on which Colwyn Bay has been built and the Company was largely responsible for the town’s development until well into the 20th century. The Company’s origins and purpose may be traced back to the sale of the Pwllycrochan estate by Sir Thomas Erskine in 1865.
The brochure for the Pwllycrochan estate stated that the “property commands one of the finest marine prospects in this most popular neighbourhood, with a splendid sea bathing beach 1¼ mile in length forming a perfect amphitheatre. The mansion will be sold in one lot and the remaining portion fronting the sea will be sold in separate lots to meet the great and increasing demand for marine residences on this coast.”
The sale of the Pwllycrochan mansion, farm buildings and gardens and 700 surrounding acres of land were purchased for £26,000 by John Pender, a Manchester businessman whose interests were primarily concerned promoting transatlantic cables. He intended to develop a seaside resort to attract the affluent classes of Manchester and Liverpool, but was prevented from doing so by the onset of financial difficulties. Consequently in 1875 he sold the estate.
The auctioneer had expected a piecemeal sale but the majority of the property was purchased by a consortium of Manchester businessmen for the sum of £87,500. Five small lots were purchased by the Railway Company and by owners of the recently completed Colwyn Bay Hotel. Pender’s agent, John Porter, bought the freehold of the Pwllycrochan Hotel which he had converted and operated since 1866.
Apart from the Colwyn Bay Hotel and two villas at what is now the top of Marine Road, by 1875 the development of the town under Pender had been largely confined to a cluster of houses and shops from the eastern portion of Station Road to the Royal Hotel and Sea View Terrace in Sea View Road.
The new purchasing consortium included Abraham Lloyd, who later became Mayor of Manchester, and Lawrence Booth who was a leading architect of large buildings. They formed the Colwyn Bay and Pwllycrochan Estate Company to continue the planning and development of the seaside resort. They divided the land into building plots and imposed covenants on the purchasers restricting what could be built. This ensured the Company retained a control over the character of the town. The Company spent much money on laying out roads and constructing a sewerage system, but had to wait many years for a return on their money.
The estate company had an office in Colwyn Bay. This was managed over the years by a series of prominent architects, most notably John Merry Porter, the son of John Porter. Brought up in Colwyn Bay, he returned to the town on qualifying as an architect and became a partner in the practice of Lawrence Booth and Thomas Chadwick, architects, surveyors and estate agents, a partnership formed in 1876 to act as the agent for the Estate Company. The practice later became J M Porter and Co. and remained in Colwyn Bay until its dissolution in 1973. The Colwyn Bay office opened under Porter and was responsible for the design and construction of many buildings, such as Queens Buildings in Station Road.
The heyday of the Colwyn Bay and Pwllycrochan Estate Company was between 1875 and the 1920s. During that period the town grew from green fields to having a population of 8,576 in 1901, 12,630 in 1911 and increasing to 21,566 in 1921. By then Colwyn Bay had become established as an important town and seaside resort.