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Posted on 17/03/2016 by David

We were one of the first holiday letting agencies in Wales. And this year we're celebrating our 50th birthday!

North Wales Holiday Cottages was formed in 1966 when struggling farmers sought to earn additional income from redundant buildings and the only self-catering holidays for visitors were in shared houses, caravans or tents.

Now we generate more than 3,000 holidays every year, boosting local tourism and helping scores of homeowners across the region earn income from their property.


In the mid-1960s founder Paul Russell, a frequent holidaymaker to North Wales, bought a dilapidated cottage in the Conwy Valley and renovated it with the idea of renting it to visitors. It was a success and holidaymakers appreciated luxuries such as indoor flushing toilets!

After buying a second run-down cottage, Paul began to receive enquiries from local farmers. Farming was in the doldrums and with people leaving the industry, remaining farmers bought up adjacent land and farmhouses to produce more. It led to a glut of redundant buildings which farmers realised could be let by Paul to visitors.

He said: “When I started the business I didn’t even have a phone. Everything was by post. I remember I used to visit the farmers to bring them the income they had earned, and they were always delighted. I’d get a hearty, farmers’ meal for every visit!

“But the big break for me came when the AA Magazine published an article about the cottage. It rubbished some other cottages but liked mine. Really it was about being in the right place at the right time.”

Paul gave up teaching to run North Wales Holiday Cottages full time. The business grew, with thousands coming to holiday in North and Mid Wales. Customers included Hollywood star Katherine Hepburn, film director George Cukor and Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary.

In 1996, 30 years after founding the business, Paul retired and handed the reins over to Barbara and Bob Griffiths. Bob died from cancer in 2008 but his sons Richard and David now run the company, making it a true family affair.

North Wales Holiday Cottages estimates it has “created” nearly 100,000 holidays throughout its history, generating close to £50m and much more again in visitor spending in North Wales. Almost half of all bookings today are from repeat customers.

Property standards have come a long way, too, with some visitors attracted by WiFi, luxury en-suites, hottubs and large flatscreen TVs.

We have recently launched this major new website which, as well as live booking, includes interactive maps for properties and extensive information on North Wales attractions.

We have also published a commemorative brochure - have you seen it yet? - and our property owners were invited to a birthday party recently.

Barbara said: “As locals ourselves, we’re proud of what the region has to offer. It’s one of the things that gives us and many of our owners most satisfaction – sharing this wonderful part of the world with others."

“It’s been an incredible adventure but we couldn’t have done it without the dedication of our property owners and the enthusiasm and encouragement we’ve had been from our customers."

"Thank you everyone for all your support, and here's to another 50 years!"