Gwynedd Archives Service holds a number of items in their collections detailing the 1866 Caernarfon cholera epidemic.

There were numerous outbreaks of cholera across the UK during the 1860s, with Caernarfon suffering most severely in 1866. It is estimated that during this time around 100 people died of the disease and 77 of the victims are known to have been buried in Llanbeblig cemetery. As many as nine burials took place on some days, and two people were even buried on Christmas Day.

Caernarfon British School log book written by the headmaster during the Cholera epidemic of 1866/7

The items include a report written by a government medical officer criticising the standards of cleanliness in Caernarfon, outlining concerns about the water supply in the town. Upon his advice, notices warning that water should first be boiled before drinking were displayed across Caernarfon. It took a further 18 days and 15 more deaths for the town to be rid of the disease and as a result of the medical officer’s report, a new water supply scheme was built for the town.

Testimonial regarding the presentation of a silver watch  and £120 to David Thomas “ as an acknowledgment of his noble conduct during the late trying outbreak of Cholera in the town, in having the daily risk of his life done all in the power of man to relieve sufferers of cholera and to prevent the spreading of that fearful disease’

These items detailing the epidemic have been shared by the Gwynedd Archives Service as part of Explore Your Archive week, organised by the UK Archives and Records Association, and supported in Wales by Archives and Records Council Wales. The annual week-long campaign encourages people across Wales to discover something new and exciting within the nation’s archives, whether that’s delving into your own family history or finding out the stories about the people and places at the heart of Welsh communities.

In 1868 the New Water Supply Scheme was completed and a fountain had been erected in Castle Square to celebrate the arrival of Caernarfon’s abundant supply of fresh clean water and the end of the cholera epidemic.

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