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Description

 The Tannery at Criccieth was located at the crossroads opposite where Arfonia terrace is today. The leather-making industry was widespread, with almost every town having a tannery. The Tannery was usually located on the outskirts of town due to the obnoxious smells that would be generated during the treatment process. The leather was used by shoemakers and saddlers for shoes, saddle furniture, harnesses, clothing and parchment.

The Criccieth tannery was open plan, with open-ended huts to house the pits. The sheds would be open-ended to allow the vapours to escape, while also preventing the rain from diluting the mixture. Thick animal skins would be used for heavy items such as horse saddles which were soaked in water and oak bark. The process would take many months, with the skin being moved from one pit to the other containing varying mixture strength. The oak bark was pressed in the mill to remove the tannin from the pulp. The Cwrt River flowed close by and possibly drove a water wheel. The lighter leather made from sheep or goat skins would be treated with a mixture of oil and alum that would preserve the colour. The leather would be dried outdoors in huts that allowed the air to flow through it. The hides were mostly obtained from the slaughter house situated at Gardd yr Esgob in the Old Town, run in later years by the Humphreys brothers.

During the 19th century the traditional style of leather making in open pits declined as machinery and factories took over. John Jones of Cefn Lwrch was listed as a "Tanner" in the census of 1841. By 1861 the tannery was run by his son, John M. Jones who lived at 1 Holywell Terrace and employed two men. The arrival of the railway in 1867 seems to have brought the business to a halt as there is no further mention of it in the censuses or trade directories. Related trades continued though. In Casey's 1877 trade directory James Parry a "currier", or leather trimmer is named in Criccieth. This was probably the James Parry who had the shop on the corner of Arfonia Terrace, opposite the old tannery at Cefn Lwrch. His son, also called James, later set up a saddler's business in the shop. On the High Street Robert T. Pritchard opened a saddler's shop, first at London House and then at number 43 High Street.

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