The Atlas Gwynedd project grew out of the merging of two ideas. Immediately prior to the abolition of Gwynedd County Council in 1996 the concept of producing a ‘County Atlas’ was under consideration. At the same time the Development Trust of the University College of North Wales, Bangor asked the Gwynedd County Council for a donation towards the Trust’s work. The result was that the County Council donated money to the Trust to be used to produce the very County Atlas that Gwynedd had in mind.

Initially the Trust appointed a geographer in the School of Education (Gwilym T Jones, who had experience of contributing to the Atlas of Anglesey)  and a geographer employed by the County Council (Clive James) as Joint Honorary Editors of the new Atlas Gwynedd. Fairly shortly a lecturer in geography in Y Coleg Normal, Bangor joined the editorial team – Cledwyn Hughes. Afterwards Dilwyn Williams was appointed as Editorial Assistant and Alan Cooper of Blue Fox as Cartographic Consultant. Various specialists were asked to contribute to chapters in the new atlas. Most willingly agreed and over time the contributions were received.

It has taken nearly 20 years to finish the Atlas and in 2015 the final delivery of all the digital data will be delivered to all the schools in Gwynedd, Ynys Mon and that part of Conwy that was in Gwynedd in 1996.

Alan entered Atlas Gwynedd into the 2014 competition because the project was so unusual.

“It’s rare to have the opportunity to produce commissioned work like this, there’s neither the time nor the inclination to cast history onto ink on paper. Now the demand is for instant delivery via the web. The costs of printing the Atlases for every school steadily escalated during the compilation phase and eventually the money allocated to the project ran out. I was determined that the work of the contributors would not be lost and so the remaining editor Clive James, who had retired in 2013, and I decided we would finish the project and honour the original intention from 1996, albeit in a digital form.”

In their Special Commendation award, the Cartographic Society noted that the Atlas Gwynedd project was a

“fantastic project, amazing work, magnificent historical record and labour of love”

It is ironic that as Atlas Gwynedd  is finally delivered in digital form 2015, the whole subject of redrawing the Council map of Wales is once again in the melting pot with talk of reducing the numbers of Local Authorities from 22 Councils down to only 8. Once again the boundary maps will need to be redrawn.