Holyhead Breakwater

At 1.7 miles long, Holyhead Breakwater, completed in 1873, is the longest in the UK.


17 June 2012

Holyhead, Anglesey

SH 25661 84774; 53.33106°N, 4.61950°W


Holyhead’s role as a port for mail-packet crossings to Ireland dates back to the 16th century, but it was in the 19th century that major changes were made as part of a programme of improvements to the mail route from London to Dublin. A new harbour of refuge, where boats could shelter in bad weather, was created when a long breakwater was built off Soldiers Point. Construction began in 1845 and was completed in 1873, with the work initially supervised by James Meadows Rendel and after Rendel’s death in 1856, by John Hawkshaw. The mock castle at Soldiers Point was built in 1848 as the Superintendent Engineer’s residence.

The 19m-high lighthouse at the end of the breakwater, with its unusual square tower, was probably designed by Hawkshaw and was completed in 1873. It is operated by Trinity House and was automated in 1961.

At 1.7 miles long, the breakwater is the longest in the UK. Seven million tons of quartzite extracted from the quarries on Holyhead Mountain were used in its construction.

In August 2011 the breakwater’s owners, Stena Line, were criticised for their lack of maintenance of the structure. The issue of its proper upkeep has been linked to Conygar Stena’s Holyhead waterfront development plans.

Holyhead Breakwater (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales);
Holyhead Breakwater Lighthouse (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales);
Fears over condition of Holyhead breakwater (The Bangor and Anglesey Mail, 24 Aug 2011)

The 210m long superferry Stena Adventurer leaving Holyhead bound for Dublin. Built by Hyundai Heavy Industries, the ferry entered service in 2003 and has a capacity of 500 cars and 900 passengers. The crossing takes 3 hours 15 minutes.

Inferior mirage above the breakwater parapet. Parts of the sky appear lower down than expected as rays of light are bent on entering a layer of hot air directly above the stone heated by the sun.

13 thoughts on “Holyhead Breakwater

  1. Pingback: Soldiers Point Hotel, Holyhead « GeoTopoi

  2. Very nice topper shot, the colours are super. What a pity that ferry wasn’t built on the Clyde. It looks like it has been cobbled together from about three other unrelated objects. Nice photo, though all the same!


  3. Pingback: Holyhead Mountain « GeoTopoi

  4. Pingback: Breakwater Quarry and Brickworks, Holyhead « GeoTopoi

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  6. Pingback: Anglesey Aluminium and Penrhos Beach, Holyhead | GeoTopoi

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