Cemaes is a village on the north coast of Anglesey in Wales, on Cemaes Bay, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which is partly owned by the National Trust. The name Cemaes would have originally been spelt Cei Maes meaning Quay Area, but due to corruption in the language over the years the i has been dropped. Population 1,357 (Llanbadrig ward), 2011. It is home to both a wind farm and a nuclear power station (Wylfa). It is also a fishing port and is known for its beach.
Cemaes is the most northerly village in Wales and its development has been shaped by the natural resources available to it. Cemaes Bay is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, some of which is owned by the National Trust. The village includes a sheltered natural harbour that looks north to the Irish Sea and is a site of an ancient settlement that in more recent centuries has become a centre for maritime activities.
Since Victorian times, the picturesque character of Cemaes and the natural beauty of the island has attracted many artists. They have responded to the sea and sky as it changes with the weather, the superb sunsets, the multicoloured rocks and sands exposed on the cliffs and beaches as well as the charm of Cemaes village.
For more than a hundred years, Cemaes has attracted holiday makers and tourists including Lloyd George. Cemaes is located on the Anglesey Coastal Path and is quite popular with walkers. One popular path which runs behind the high-street called Valley of the Otters (Nat y Dyfrgi in Welsh) is very peaceful. It is surrounded by woodland, wildflowers and the sounds of the river. The river itself is called the River Wygyr which flows from just below Parys Mountain to the sea at Cemaes. It is joined along the way by the Afon Meddanen on Carrog Farm. The name Wygyr itself in Welsh means ‘where two rivers meet’.
The village was a commotal seat for the Prince of Wales before the invasion of Edward I in 1282–83. Dafydd ap Llywelyn, prince of Wales from 1240 to 1246, is recorded as having issued an act at Cemaes in 1238.
Between the end of the 18th and beginning of the 20th century the village was noted for producing salted herring as well as bricks from a nearby works, which was served by a narrow gauge tramway down to the sea. The pier, which was badly needed for trade and fishing, and later tourism, was damaged badly by storms in 1828 and 1889. Both times they were rebuilt and improved by local businessmen.
Thoroughout its history the village has had three names. The first was Castell Iorwerth (“Iorwerth’s Castle”) after an important Welsh prince of the time. The second name, Cemais, is similar to the modern name and refers to the meanders in the River Wygyr that are near the village. The name of the nearby Wylfa nuclear power station is linked to the village. The late 19th-century Cemaes resident David Hughes, who travelled to Liverpool and found riches in the building industry, lived for much of his life on the island. He built the village town hall in 1898 and his home ‘Wylfa Manor’ in 1896, on the site of the current power station. It is located under the current Wylfa carpark.