The Erskine is believed to have built around the 1830s/1840s.
The building was owned for many years by the Erskine family who were significant landowners in the area during the 19th century. The Dowager Lady Erskine was known for her philanthropy. During hard winter weather in 1864, for example, she gave £20 of coal to the poor of Conwy and Llandrillo-yn-Rhos. She was also the main supporter of the Conway Clothing Club, which helped to provide clothes to poor and elderly people.
In 1821 she married Sir David Erskine of Cambo, Fifeshire and they decided to make Pwllycrochan their home, demolishing and replacing the existing house. Acres of land, hitherto fields, were planted with trees and additions were made to the woods, in which were made paths and rustic bridges. Small fields were combined to form parkland either side of the private drive (now Pwllycrochan Avenue) which led to the turnpike at the foot of the hill – now Abergele/Conway Roads. After Sir David died in 1841, his widow continued to live there with her six children. However Lady Jane and her son, the new Sir Thomas, in turn demolished the house and replaced it with what is part of the present property. In 1865, as Sir Thomas found that he needed to spend more time on his Scottish properties, he decided to sell his Welsh properties.
The sale comprised the 1,850 acre Bodlondeb estate and 70 houses in Conwy (probably including the Erskine Arms) and the 1,191 acre Pwllycrochan estate. 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 Erskine Arms was enlarged considerable during the late 19th century. Mr R Roberts, landlord of the Erskine Hotel during this time, was one of the first people to fall foul of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act 1881, which outlawed the sale of alcohol on Sundays to anyone except travellers who had journeyed more than a certain distance before stopping at a hostelry. In September 1881 Mr Roberts was fined £5 after a police officer discovered a couple of drunks at the Erskine who did not appear to be genuine travellers.
The Erskine Hotel kept its own stables into the early 20th century, when it would supply horses to pull Conwy’s new fire engine as required. Horse sales were often held in the Erskine Hotel yard. In 1907, buyers travelled from as far afield as the Midlands to buy some of the 55 “useful harness horses and cobs” which were for sale. Horse-drawn vehicles and harnesses also featured in the sales. The Conway Horse Show Society held its committee meetings and dinners at the Erskine.
During a livestock fair in 1899, a young heifer wandered into the hotel, walked around the billiard table and even climbed the stairs to the first landing before being shooed out!
Famous guests of history
Another notable time at this hotel was when the well known author, Charlotte Bronte stayed on her wedding tour en-route to Ireland on the 29th June 1854. Fifty years later, her husband Reverend Arthur Bell Nicholls wrote in reference to the hotel: “We found it very comfortable, and the accommodation very good”.
How we came to be
The Erskine was bought by Stange & Co in 1997 in a very sorry state and with an even worse reputation, through some investment and a rebranding as ‘The Malt Loaf’ we turned it into a traditional and thriving community pub serving great beer, and offering a pool table, snooker, darts and screened sports. However the upper floors were left mothballed as there was still little demand for those wishing to visit and stay in Conwy. Conwy was still very much a town for the local community with little in the way for the visitor economy.
As public tastes and desires changed so the Malt Loaf had to change and the decision was made to give the old girl a top to bottom renovation and restoration, bring the rooms up to date and back to life, and shoe-horning a top-notch kitchen into the cellar and restoring her name to ‘The Erksine Arms’. We feel creating a classic coaching inn offering some great food, beer and rooms.