Breakwater Quarry and Brickworks, Holyhead
|Date||24 June 2012|
|Location||Holyhead Breakwater Country Park||SH 22692 83221; 53.31613°N, 4.66317°W|
Vast amounts of rock were required during the construction between 1845 and 1873 of Holyhead Breakwater. Although the dressed stone visible in the part of the structure above water came from a quarry in Moelfre on the opposite side of Anglesey, 7 million tons of quartzite won from the nearby quarries on Holyhead Mountain were used to form the base of the breakwater.
During the construction of the breakwater, 11 extractive sites were in operation at the Breakwater Quarries, from where a 7 ft gauge railway ran down to the operations at Soldiers Point. There, wooden staging, carrying five broad-gauge lines, had been erected out to sea, over which ran wagons, each carrying around 10 tons of rock to be tipped into the water.
After completion of the breakwater, operations at Gwaith y Mynydd (‘Mountain Quarry Works’) were scaled back and around 1901 William Wild and Sons built a brickworks there to manufacture heat-resistant silica bricks for use in smelting furnaces.
The hard quartzite rock from the quarry was ground in a crushing mill and then mixed with mortar to form the bricks. These were then left to dry for three to six weeks before being fired in the kilns for three days.
The site closed in the early 1970s and thereafter became an unofficial rubbish tip. It is now part of the 106-acre Breakwater Country Park, which opened in 1990.
The cannon on display in the park came from North Stack fog signal station. It would be fired at fixed intervals as a warning to shipping in foggy weather, but when superseded by a fog siren it was tossed over the cliff into the sea. Recovered in 1984 by local divers, it was put on display in the park when it opened.