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Holyhead Breakwater

A Grade II* Listed Building in Holyhead, Isle of Anglesey

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Latitude: 53.3254 / 53°19'31"N

Longitude: -4.6363 / 4°38'10"W

OS Eastings: 224519

OS Northings: 384185

OS Grid: SH245841

Mapcode National: GBR GMXX.C1Y

Mapcode Global: WH314.RPF0

Plus Code: 9C5Q89G7+5F

Entry Name: Holyhead Breakwater

Listing Date: 19 July 1988

Last Amended: 25 July 1994

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 5743

Building Class: Maritime

Location: Enormous Z-plan breakwater (2.4km long) stretches into Holyhead bay from Soldier’s Point, NW of town centre.

County: Isle of Anglesey

Community: Holyhead (Caergybi)

Community: Holyhead

Locality: Soldier's Point

Built-Up Area: Holyhead

Traditional County: Anglesey

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Work began 1848, declared complete August 1873 by Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII); cost £1,285,000. Plans prepared 1845 for the Treasury by James Meadows Rendell, engineer, of Westminster (previously employed on docks at Birkenhead, Great Grimsby and Leith). Works completed by John Hawkshaw, superintending engineer from 1857-73, John Dobson, resident engineer, G F Lyster, assistant engineer; contractors Messrs J & C Rigby, of London. Local quartz rubble from Holyhead mountain (over 7,000,000 tonnes) brought down by purpose-built broad gauge railway; upper parts built in Moelfre limestone. Originally a second breakwater to S was planned (beginning at Salt Island), but instead a major extension towards NE increased harbour area enclosed.


Breakwater starts with an extended and consolidated rocky headland of rubble fill with massive squared blocks to outer revetments. Masonry landing stage to harbour side. Narrower pier runs NW from junction at ashlar drum with rope-mould cornice; massive attached parapet. Broad elliptical string course to seaward side with rubble blocks below; raised walkway and protective wall with oversailing cornice. Cyclopean dressings to inset stairways (with stone barriers) flanked by concave refuges to lower deck; alternating masonry blockhouses with central arched openings. Occasional waisted bollards and inset stairways to harbour edge of lower deck (formerly with tramway lines). Towards outer end is a modern masonry exedra facing harbour. Cyclopean steps flanked by screen wall with rope-moulded turret lead up to outermost platform with lighthouse and parapets. Outer ovoid platform was formerly a gun platform.

Reasons for Listing

Graded II* as the longest and one of the most monumental piers in the British Isles.

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