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Snowdon Wharf

A Grade II Listed Building in Porthmadog, Gwynedd

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Latitude: 52.9232 / 52°55'23"N

Longitude: -4.1282 / 4°7'41"W

OS Eastings: 257020

OS Northings: 338316

OS Grid: SH570383

Mapcode National: GBR 5P.MZLP

Mapcode Global: WH55L.KSCD

Entry Name: Snowdon Wharf

Listing Date: 1 April 1974

Last Amended: 26 September 2005

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 4408

Building Class: Maritime

Location: Forming the E side of the harbour, S of Britannia Bridge.

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 N end of Snowdon Wharf, part of which is cut into bedrock, was used by Samuel Holland of Liverpool from c1836 when the Ffestiniog Railway opened. Holland had obtained the lease of Rhiwbryfdir Quarry in 1820, and had a monopoly on the Ffestioniog Railway until 1839. The wharf was later extended by other quarry and ship owners using the port, and the whole wharf is shown on the 1871 Tremadog estate plan, 1885 harbour survey and 1888 Ordnance Survey.


At the NE end, by Britannia Bridge, the wharf is of bedrock, but an L-shaped section, representing the earliest section of wharf, and then a later 130m long NE-SW section are of battered walls of large, roughly dressed stone blocks laid in regular courses. The NE end has a later stone parapet. At the angle S of the Ffestiniog Railway station the road is carried over the angle on a concrete beam. Here the earlier section is recessed at the end and has stone steps. At the SW end is a short return wall into the bank.

Reasons for Listing

Listed for its special interest as a well-preserved C19 wharf and for its important contribution to the overall historical integrity of Porthmadog harbour.

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