Bethesda is a town lying on the River Ogwen and the A5 road in Snowdonia, north Wales, affectionately called Pesda by the locals.
The town grew around the slate and stone quarrying industry, the largest of the local quarries being the Penrhyn Quarry. At its peak, it was exporting its dark blue-green slate all over the world, and in so doing it gained a reputation for being the world's best. The village was the site of a famous three-year strike led by the North Wales Quarrymen's Union from 1900. This led to the creation of the nearby village of Tregarth, built by the quarry owners, which housed the families of the workers who did not strike.
During its heyday, the population of Bethesda peaked at 10,000 people, but it is currently around 4,327 people (2001 census). Current opportunities for employment are limited within the village. It is home to a small number of manafacturing businesses, although the majority of businesses are in the low-paid services and hospitality sector. For better paid employment, residents tend to commute to towns along the North Wales Coast. Bangor is the most popular location, however, some will travel as far as Cheshire on a daily basis. The lack of degree-based opportunites is one of the main reasons many of the younger people relocate out of the area to places such as Cardiff and Manchester as soon as they are qualified.
The architecture and layout of the town is utilitarian. Most of the buildings are constructed of stone with slate roofs. Some are constructed wholly of slate blocks although such buildings tend to suffer from damp and structural slippage because the very flat and smooth surfaces of slate do not bind well to mortar.
Most of the town is to the east and north east of the A5 road with housing packed onto the hill-side in irregular rows. This was due to the A5 marking the border of Lord Penrhyn's land, and the freehold land. This can still be seen in the layout of the current high street where all the public houses are only found on one side of the road. The upper parts of Carneddi, Cilfodan and Tany y Foel owe more to stone quarrying on the nearby hills rather than slate quarrying that supported the lower end of the town. At the eastern limits, the town is bounded by the rising land of the Carneddau mountains which form some of the more remote landscapes of Snowdonia.
Bethesda is noted for the number of chapels and pubs in the town. The town was named after the Bethesda chapel, which was recently converted into residential flats. Infamous for its pubs, there are no less than ten places that serve alcohol in the Bethesda area (excluding Tregarth). It is noted throughout the surrounding area that the busiest night in Bethesda is Sunday, not the traditional Saturdays or Fridays.
Welsh is the main language of the village, and can be seen and heard everywhere. According to the 2001 census 77.0% of the residents are Welsh-speaking, higher than both the Gwynedd and Welsh average.
Bethesda is the childhood home of Gruff Rhys the lead singer of Super Furry Animals who grew up in the area known as Rachub / Llanllechid.