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Greaves Wharf and Oakleys Wharf

A Grade II Listed Building in Porthmadog, Gwynedd

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Latitude: 52.9237 / 52°55'25"N

Longitude: -4.1296 / 4°7'46"W

OS Eastings: 256933

OS Northings: 338378

OS Grid: SH569383

Mapcode National: GBR 5P.MZ6W

Mapcode Global: WH55L.JRRZ

Entry Name: Greaves Wharf and Oakleys Wharf

Listing Date: 1 April 1974

Last Amended: 26 September 2005

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 4407

Building Class: Maritime

Location: Forming the W side of the harbour between Britannia Bridge and Pencei (Cornhill).

County: Gwynedd

Town: Porthmadog

Community: Porthmadog

Community: Porthmadog

Built-Up Area: Porthmadog

Traditional County: Caernarfonshire

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Porthmadog Harbour was developed from the 3rd decade of the C19, at first by landowner and improver William Madocks (1773-1828). Madocks had reclaimed a large tract of land known as Traeth Mawr, that formed the estuary of the Afon Glaslyn, by building a Great Embankment (now known as The Cob) 1808-11. One of the fortuitous consequences of diverting the river was that it swept away sandbanks to leave a deep natural harbour ideal for serving the region's growing slate industry. The Act of Parliament for Porthmadog Harbour was passed in 1821. By 1824 the new port was already ready to receive vessels of up to 70 tons (71.12 tonnes) laden. The engineer was John Williams, and the contractor Griffith Griffith.

In 1833 Samuel Lewis said it was accessible to vessels of 300 tons burden, and noted that 'many good houses have been built, and a considerable trade is now carried on'. Imports were mainly timber, coal and lime. Exports were chiefly slate and copper ore. In 1825 11,396 tons of slate were exported, rising to 31,200 tons in 1840, 51,109 tons in 1854 and 168,947 tons in 1884, although the growth in volume disguised the decreasing profitability of slate exports. Shipbuilding also became a major local industry from the 1850s to the 1870s, with a further revival between 1891 and 1913, when Porthmadog was noted for building 3-masted schooners.

To comply with the provisions of the Act of Parliament, Madocks had a short stone quay built at Cornhill, which henceforth became the commercial centre of the port. Slate companies who purchased wharves were responsible for building their own quays, the first of whom was Samuel Holland of Liverpool in 1836, who had purchased Rhiwbryfdir Quarry in 1820.

Oakleys and Greaves Wharf was a single construction for John Greaves (who opened his own quarry in 1846) and the Rhiwbryfdir Slate Company (founded 1838) in the mid C19. The wharf is mentioned by Owen Morris in 1856 and is shown on the 1871 Tremadog estate survey, 1885 harbour survey and 1888 Ordnance Survey.


The wharf is 180m long NE-SW, built of battered walls of large blocks of dressed stone laid in regular courses, with later steel ladders and iron mooring rings. It has steel railings set back from the edge, except by the harbour-masters office (which is the boundary between Greaves and Oakleys Wharves). At the SW end is a return wall facing a wide slipway (known as 'The Beach'), which has a later stone parapet. At the NE end the wharf abuts Britannia Bridge.

Reasons for Listing

Listed for its special interest as a well-preserved C19 wharf and for its important contribution to the historical integrity of Porthmadog harbour, as a group with its own wharf-side buildings.

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