Now and Then XI: Port Penrhyn

Port Penrhyn - Now and Then

Port Penrhyn – Now and Then

Date

14 February 2015
Location

Port Penrhyn, Bangor

SH 59229 72579; 53.23152°N, 4.11044°W

Information

Slate from Penrhyn Quarry had been exported since the early 18th century from the sheltered bay at the mouth of the Afon Cegin where the river empties into the Menai Strait at Bangor Flats. The harbour’s name was changed from Abercegin to Port Penrhyn in 1790 when Richard Pennant‘s agent Benjamin Wyatt developed new facilities there with stone quays built from blocks of Anglesey limestone. More efficient transport of slate from quarry to port arrived in 1801 with the opening of a horse-drawn tramway. This was replaced around 1878 by the narrow-gauge Penrhyn Quarry Railway so that steam locomotives could be employed on the six-mile route from Bethesda. The Penrhyn Quarry Railway closed in 1962. From 1852 the port also had a standard-gauge siding connected to the then Chester and Holyhead Railway (later to become part of the LNWR).

Penrhyn Bridge, which is now a Grade II listed structure, carries the approach road to the Penrhyn Estate’s Port Lodge over the Afon Cegin and was originally built in 1820 by George Hay Dawkins-Pennant. Two railway arches were a later addition in order to allow the tracks to terminate directly on the quays.

The Grade II listed Port House was built in classical style in 1840 by Penrhyn Castle‘s clerk of works William Baxter as the harbour master’s house. The building has been used as an office by the University of Bangor and is currently occupied by Carter Vincent LLB solicitors.

Further Reading

Port Penrhyn;
Penrhyn Quarry

SEE MORE →

Now and Then X: Bangor Station

Bangor Station

Bangor Station – Now and Then

Date

14 February 2015
Location

Bangor

SH 57519 71666; 53.22286°N, 4.13563°W

Information

Parliamentary assent was given in 1844 for the construction of the Chester and Holyhead Railway with Robert Stephenson as Engineer and it opened in stages between 1848 and 1850. Designed by architect Francis Thompson, the station in Bangor opened in 1848. The London and North Western Railway (LNWR) took over the line in 1859 and enlarged the station in 1884. Further alterations were made between 1923 and 1927 after the line became part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). The original station building became isolated from the approach road and so a new building for the main entrance and booking hall was built at that time. The station, which had a large goods yard, was enlarged as branch lines opened. It was, however, reduced in size again as local services were withdrawn in the 1960s and 70s. The station is currently managed by Arriva Trains Wales and with an annual passenger usage of around 680,000 is the busiest on the North Wales Coast line.

Further Reading

Railway Institute, Bangor;
Bangor Station (Disused Stations)

SEE MORE →

Now and then IX: Aberglaslyn

Aberglaslyn - Now and Then

Aberglaslyn – Now and Then

Date

24 January 2015
Location

Pont Aberglaslyn, Nantmor, Beddgelert

SH 59422 46237; 52.99494°N, 4.09600°W

Information

“Pont Aber-glaslyn, or the Bridge at the Conflux of the Blue Pool ; it is also called by the inhabitants, The Devil’s Bridge, on which account it has sometimes been confounded with the bridge of that name near Hafod, in Cardiganshire. In approaching this spot from Bedd-gelert, the rocks on each side become incomparably grand. The road winds along a narrow stony vale, where the huge cliffs so nearly approach, as only just to leave width sufficient at the bottom for the road, and the bed of the impetuous torrent that rolls along the side of it. Here these lofty rocks, which oppose nothing to the eye but a series of the rudest precipices, “raised tier on tier, high pil’d from earth to heaven,” seem to forbid all further access, and to frown defiance on the traveller. The bridge crosses the Glaslyn, and unites the counties of Merioneth and Caernarvon. In the span it is thirty feet, and from the water to the parapet forty feet high.”

— Joseph Hemingway, Panorama of the beauties, curiosities, and antiquities of North Wales, exhibited in its Mountains, Vallies, Waterfalls, Lakes, Cities and Towns, Castles and Ruins, etc. Intended as a Pocket Companion to the Tourist and Traveller., 1839

To the south of Beddgelert the Afon Glaslyn flows through the gorge known as the Pass of Aberglaslyn on its way towards Tremadog Bay at Porthmadog. The A498 road and the Welsh Highland Railway follow, on opposite sides, the route of the river through the pass. At the end of the pass the river is spanned by the 15m-long 17th-century Pont Aberglaslyn road bridge. The bridge was enlarged in 1796 and was restored in 1957, when an inscription dated 1656 was discovered. The structure received a Grade II listing in 1968. Up until the construction in 1811 by William Alexander Madocks (1773-1828) of Porthmadog Cob – the embankment across the Glaslyn estuary – the river was tidal and was navigable at high tide as far as Pont Aberglaslyn.

SEE MORE →

Now and then VIII: Beddgelert

Beddgelert - Now and Then

Beddgelert – Now and Then

Date

24 January 2015
Location

Beddgelert

SH 59096 48110; 53.01169°N, 4.10168°W

Information

The triple-arched Pont Beddgelert road bridge spans the Afon Colwyn close to its confluence with the Afon Glaslyn in the centre of Beddgelert village. The Grade II listed structure has been repaired a number of times throughout its history, the earliest recorded instance being in the early 17th century.

The first half of the 19th century saw an increase in the numbers of tourists visiting Snowdonia and around 1830, hoping to capitalise on this trend, the Sygun estate started developing property in Beddgelert – a row of buildings was constructed overlooking the Afon Colwyn close to the bridge.

The principal buildings, which received Grade II listed status in 1952 and 1961, respectively, were the Prince Llewelyn Hotel and Waterloo House. The latter is now Beddgelert Bistro and Antiques and was from the late 19th century the village Post Office. The 11-bedroom Prince Llewelyn Hotel was the site in 1949 of an occurrence the like of which is only known to have occurred in Wales on one other occasion. In the early hours of 21 September 1949 a bright light was observed traversing the sky in North Wales. A series of bangs was heard in the hotel and in the morning a hole was discovered in the ceiling of one of the upstairs lounges with a stone the size of a cricket ball lying on the floor. It was only identified as a meteorite that evening by an old miner in the hotel bar. The meteorite was later sold to the British Museum and was subsequently divided into samples which were sent to a number of different institutions.

SEE MORE →