Rather wonderfully, Mostyn is best described as a polyfocal settlement. Quite. Ostensibly, this simply means that Mostyn does not actually have a recognised centre, but rather several, as it stretches for a little while along the north Wales coast, between Llannerch-y-mor to just beyond Mostyn Quay to the north west.
Mostyn first enters written record with an entry in the Domesday Book (link), in which the place is called ‘Mostone’, which translated from the Old English is best rendered as, ‘Marshy Settlement’, and is described as a place of 4 villagers and 8 smallholders. Owned by Earl Edwin before the conquest, it had by 1086 fallen into the hands of Robert of Rhuddlan, founder of the motte and bailey at Twthill. Mostyn’s history before 1086 is predictably sketchy, but the area was likely to have been at the mercy of the ever-changing coastline, overlooked by the gently rising terrain that was once wandered by Neolithic peoples. By 1272, the settlement was known as ‘Muston’, having much the same meaning as its earlier name, and by the 16th century the name had taken on its current spelling.
Curiously, in the lay subsidy of 1292 (a tax record), there is a reference to a, ‘Nova Villa de Moston’, which we are told had 20 taxpayers. The exact whereabouts of this settlement is unclear, but current thinking places it between Tre-Mostyn and Plas Uchaf where the remains of medieval strip holdings have been found, and which can be found on tithe maps and even 19th century Ordnance Survey maps. By 1308 there is a probable reference to the area being home to some 16 English tenants holding some 280 acres of land. It is likely that this was the site of one of Edward I’s English colonies, operating in, if you will forgive the vernacular, ‘border country’, outside of the obvious protection of the castles at Flint and Rhuddlan. As to why these English colonists would risk setting up homes in this area, we have reports of sea coal being taken from the coast as well as stone being quarried.
Indeed, there are records of a coal mine in the Mostyn area in 1423, and it is thought that the colliery or collieries here supplied eastern Ireland for hundreds of years, especially during the 16th and 17th centuries. Of course, lead was also mined in the near vicinity and was certainly shipped out of Mostyn Quay.
Mostyn Docks was source of much employment in the area and remains a successful going concern, though the days of coal and lead being exported are long since gone. Instead, the giant wings of the Airbus A380 manufactured 15 miles upstream at Broughton (link) and brought up the Dee on the specially built barge, the Afon Dyfrdwy are shipped out for Toulouse. Mostyn Docks is also a centre of offshore windfarm construction, providing the base for operations within the Irish Sea.