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

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Marchogion Incline Winding House

'Incline Cottage', seen from the A5 road into Bangor

Date

17 March 2012
Location

Llandegai Road, Bangor

SH 59233 72002; 53.22634°N, 4.11011°W

Information

Now a private residence, this former incline winding house stands on Marchogion hill close to Port Penrhyn. The incline formed part of Benjamin Wyatt‘s 1798 horse tramway from the port to a flint mill at Llandygai. Wagons bound for the mill would have been hauled up the incline with chains wrapped around a vertically mounted winding drum. When the tramway was extended to Penrhyn Quarry in 1801, the incline would have become gravity powered, with wagons laden with slate travelling down to the port and hauling empty wagons back up the hill. The incline was bypassed in the 1870s when the tramway was re-routed to become the Penrhyn Quarry Railway.

Incline Winding House, Penrhyn Railway
(Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

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Hendurnpike Signal Box

Hendurnpike Signal Box

Date

17 March 2012
Location

Hendurnpike, Tregarth

SH 61015 67626; 53.18750°N, 4.08153°W

Information

The 1801 horse tramway from Penrhyn Quarry to Port Penrhyn – later to become the Penrhyn Quarry Railway – crossed the 1803 Capel Curig turnpike road at Hendurnpike near Tregarth. The level crossing with its white painted gates was removed after the railway closed in the 1960s. Today all that remains to mark the spot is the little signal box.

Hendurnpike Signal Box, Penrhyn Railway
(Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

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Felin Fawr Locomotive Shed

Chain hoist suspended from the gantry of the travelling overhead crane

Date

17 March 2012
Location

Coed-y-parc, Bethesda

SH 61552 66344; 53.17612°N, 4.07295°W

Information

The locomotive shed forms part of Penrhyn Quarry’s former Felin Fawr mill and workshop complex and is now the centre of activity in the ongoing efforts to restore the narrow-gauge Penrhyn Quarry Railway.

In 1798, Benjamin Wyatt, Lord Penrhyn’s agent, built a horse tramway to transport flint between Port Penrhyn and a mill at Llandygai. The tramway was extended to Penrhyn Quarry in 1801 so that slate could be more easily transported to the port. The five-mile-long line took a fairly direct route and had inclines at Tanysgafell, Dinas near Tregarth, and Marchogion near Maesgeirchen.

So that locomotives could operate on the line, the quarry railway was re-routed in stages between 1876 and 1879 in order to avoid the abrupt changes in height previously accommodated by the inclines. The railway closed in 1962, being superseded by road haulage by lorry. This was followed in 1965 by the closure of both the quarry’s internal rail system and also the Felin Fawr works. The six miles of track lifted at that time were donated to the Festiniog Railway.

The site is owned by Felin Fawr Cyf, to whom grateful thanks are due for kindly granting access to the loco shed.

Penrhyn Quarry Railway;
Felin Fawr Cyf;
Felin Fawr Slate Works
(Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

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Felin Fawr works

Felin Fawr slate mill complex - now in use as light industrial units

Date

12 November 2011
Location

Coed-y-parc, Bethesda

SH 61497 66410; 53.17670°N, 4.07379°W

Information

Felin Fawr was originally the main mill and workshop complex for Penrhyn Quarry. The first slab mill was opened in 1803 and extended in 1834. The foundry dates back to 1832 and the later slab mill to 1846. The manager’s house, on the northern edge of the site, is thought to have been constructed in the 1880s.

Power was provided by two pitchback waterwheels, driven by water from the reservoirs on the Afon Galedffrwd, and in use up to around 1930. The later of the two wheels was most likely installed around 1906 when the yard was extended to the east.

The locomotives operating on the Penrhyn Railway, running from the quarry to Port Penrhyn, were housed in the sheds at the southern end of the complex. Penrhyn Railway closed in 1962, followed in 1965 by the closure of both the internal quarry railway and Felin Fawr Works.

The site was purchased by Gwynedd Council in 1990 and parts of the complex were restored and converted for use as light industrial units. Further conversion work is also planned. The site is run by Felin Fawr Cyf.

Penrhyn Railway is also gradually being recreated by a group of preservation volunteers. In the first phase, restoration work has been carried out on the locomotive shed and track has been laid in the yard to link up with the route of the ‘main line’.

Felin fawr Slate Works (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales); Felin Fawr Cyf; Penrhyn Quarry Railway

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