Small Town, Big Name: A World Record on the Isle of Anglesey

Small Town, Big Name: A World Record on the Isle of Anglesey
Outside of the United Kingdom, its reputation hasn’t quite reached the size of its name.However, in the north of Wales, on the isle of Anglesey, a small village boasts one of the longest place names in the world: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

The town’s name holds a record in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The town’s name holds a record in the Guinness Book of World Records.

With 58 letters in its name, “the church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio’s of the red cave,” its Welsh meaning, has been written into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The village, known in Wales as Llanfair PG, didn’t always have such a long name. In the 1800s it was simply called Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll, meaning “St. Mary’s church near the pool by the white hazels.”

With the establishment of the railways and the construction of a line between the nearby towns of Chester to Holyhead, the locals wanted to attract tourists to the village.

The name was established to give the station the longest name of any railway station in the United Kingdom.

The town put together a ‘tourism committee’ and although it is not known who decided on the new name – some say it was a local tailor, while others swear it was a cobbler from the nearby town of Menai Bridge – the idea was successful.

Be sure to get your passport stamped with the town’s name at the local gift shop.
Be sure to get your passport stamped with the town’s name at the local gift shop.

The village, which has a population of around 3,000, now attracts hundreds of tourists daily, all contributing to the town’s economy by spending their money on one-of-a-kind gifts for family and friends.

While in the fifth largest settlement on the Island, going to the train station to take photos of the longest station name in the world is a must.

At the local shopping market passports can be stamped with the town’s name, and, if you go to the tourist information center and ask nicely, the person behind the counter will pronounce the name of the town. You will probably spend the rest of your day trying to repeat it, without success.

Once you learn to change the F to V, Ff to F, Ll to L (while blowing air out the side of your tongue as you say it), Ch to H (with your tongue at the back of your throat, like the German Ch), Y to uh, and W to oo, you just might start to make sense.

On the station sign, the English pronunciation of the name is:

Llan-vire-pooll-guin-gill-go-ger-u-queern-drob-ooll-llandus-ilio-gogo-goch. If nothing else, it’s a good start.

Aside from the town name itself, the other primary tourist attraction is the nearby Marquess of Anglesey’s Column, which stands at 89 feet (27 m) tall and offers views of the island and the strait. The column, built in 1816, commemorates the bravery of the first Marquess of Anglesey, Henry Paget, at the Battle of Waterloo.

This sign makes the attempt to pronounce the town’s name a little easier.
This sign makes the attempt to pronounce the town’s name a little easier.

Though you may never be able to say the name properly, you will always be able to tell family and friends you visited “Llanfair… gogoch”.

If that’s still too hard to pronounce, tell them you simply went to the place with the longest train station name in the world with a passport stamp to prove it!

If You Go

North Wales Tourism

www.nwt.co.uk

Tara Downey has been writing professionally for nine years. She has previously worked in newspaper journalism and business reporting and currently works as a Communications Officer (Marketing and Public Relations).

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