-The Port and the Ships
Porthmadog - y Porthladd â'r Llongau
|Back to Gwynedd Ships/ yn ol i Llongau Gwynedd|
2008 - Complete new section with my illustrated stories
Mawrth 2008 - Adran newydd sbon gyda fy storiau ddarluniadol
260 ships were built at Porthmadog and Borth y Gest between 1825 and
1913. Previous to the construction of the "cob" embankment in
1812 (and the subsequent development of Porthmadog) ships were built in
various locations around "Traeth Mawr" and "Traeth
Bach" Several of the shipbuilders, shipwrights and carpenters from
the Meirioneth side moved to the new port. First a horse drawn tramway
was built then a narrow gauge steam railway brought the slates down from
the quarries up in the hills. The Ffestiniog slate was famous and was
exported to all parts of the world by these locally built brigs,
schooners, barquentines and brigantines ( a couple of larger barques
were also built). Coal, hardware, grain and all sorts of general cargoes
were brought in. Click
here for some excellent photos of the Blaenau quarries on
Kevin Mclean's website.
After the arrival of the railway in 1867 there was a drop off in trade but the shipbuilders, owners, brokers and the seamen themselves fought back and found new trades. A new type of ship was developed with one trade in mind - the Newfoundland and Labrador salt cod industry. These were the "Western Ocean Yachts" for which Porthmadog is justly famous. A full description of them is given below.
We musn't forget the unglamorous workhorses though - the coastal smacks, the phosphate brigs and others which carried any cargo to most places in the world. They are also mentioned below.
A list of most of the ships that called Porthmadog their home port (some were built in Pwllheli or Nefyn) was compilled by Emrys Hughes. The late Aled Eames expanded it and included it in "Porthmadog Ships". I don't intend copying or scanning this, for copyright reasons, but if anyone wants information on any particular ship I would be glad to pass it on.
|Cafodd dros 260 longau eu adeilau ym Mhorthmadog a
Borth y Gest rhwng 1825 a 1913. Cyn adeiladu'r cob a ddatblygiad y
porthladd adeiladwyd llongau yn wahanol llefyyd o gwmpas y Traeth Mawr.
Symudodd llawer o'r saeri a forwyr i'r porthladd newydd. Ar ol
ymsefydliad y'r rheiffordd o Blaenau Ffestiniog 'roedd gofyn am mwyfwy
llongau ac atebodd y pobl yr ardal yng nghyson gyd llongau newydd a'r
forwyr i hwylio nhw.
Ar ol cyrraedd y prif rheilffordd yn 1867, arafodd y fasnach am ddipyn ond atebodd y adeiladwyr hefo'r "Western Ocean Yachts", sgwnars bach, tri fast, yn cryf ac yn perfaith am hwylio drost y Mor Iwerydd i Newfoundland i llwytho benfras hallt.
Rhaid ddim anghofio'r llongau eraill, y smaciau fechan, y brigs a'r lleill , oedd yn cario bob fath o llwyth i bob cornol o'r ynysoedd yma ac hefyd y byd.
The last days of Porthmadog as a commercial port.
With acknowledgement to the local maritime historians and authors who have provided most of this information via their many publications. Reading List.
|Cydnabyddiaeth i'r haneswyr yr ardal ac awdyrion sydd wedi cofnodi hanes y traddodiad arforol ein fro. Rhestr Ddarllen|
on some of the well known ships built or owned in Porthmadog and Borth y Gest
am rhei o'r llongau adnabyddys cafodd eu adeiladu neu yn perthyn i Borthmadog a Borth y Gest
Porthmadog had a regular steam coaster service with Liverpool. The two REBECCAs served the ports for many years. Other coasters, such as the Telephone and the Dora called frequently.
|During WWII the local foundaries were involved in munitions and military machinery manufacture and raw materials were sometimes brought in by sea and the finished or part completed articles backloaded.|
The last vessel to trade regularly to the port was the FLORENCE COOKE. Her last visit was in 1959
was the end. A few cargoes of heavy machinery for the Trawsfynydd power
station were brought in during the late fifties, some timber cargoes and
a coaster unloaded in the port during a Liverpool dockers's strike.
Research in to this final period is more difficult as the records have
been scattered. Some of the Harbour Records to 1918 are at Caernarfon,
the National Library of Wales and Bangor University and some are
The real blow had been earlier though. The last vessel built at the port, the GESTIANA, was lost on her maiden voyage in 1913 then the outbreak of the war in 1914 brought the German slate trade to an abrupt end. The competition with the railway was almost lost. No new ships were built, several were sunk by enemy action and most of the survivors sold. Slate did leave the port during the twenties and thirties but in 1925 less than five per cent of the Ffestiniog output went out by sea; about 3,000 tons Some of these cargoes continued to be loaded onto schooners and ketches. Most of this dwindling fleet had had their rig cut down and auxiliary engines installed. They were owned in North Devon ports, Arklow in Ireland, Kilkeel in Ulster, Conahs Quay and a couple locally.
Vessels such as the SOLWAY LASS, RESULT, EMILY BARRAT, GARLANDSTONE, KATIE and the SARAH LATHAM sailed on well into living memory. Two of the last locally built ships to load slates were the DAVID MORRIS and the ELIZABETH. Both were sold from the port in the 1920's and were lost soon afterwards; the former in Newfoundland and the latter far from home in the Seychelles. The Ffestiniog railway went into decline during this period. Once when three steam coasters happened to be in port at the same time difficulties occurred with the movement of wagons because of the poor state of the stock.
The last remaining locally owned sailing vessel, the LADY AGNES, rotted away near the terminal during the second war and was condemned. Her entry in the Caernarfon ship register for 31st December 1945 baldly states "closed". In June of 1946 the final load of slate, delivered by rail, left by sea from Porthmadog. Two months later the Ffestiniog Railway ceased commercial operations ( In his book "Porthmadog Ships" the late Aled Eames has statistics for export by sea up to 1948. Possibly these last loads were slates stored on the quayside or at Minffordd and brought by lorry)
It had been hoped that there would be a revival of the slate industry as part of the reconstruction of towns and cities damaged during the war but this did not occur. Other materials for roofing had become more popular and the hoped for boom as had happened after the Great War just did not occur. The statistics in various reports and papers published at the time illustrate the decline of the slate industry. In 1935 the total production of the Welsh Quarries had been 228,434 tons. In 1945 it was 82,702 tons of which 19,587 came from the Merioneth Quarries. In 1935 the output from the Ffestiniog and other smaller Merioneth quarries had been 55,718 tons.1 Of the 1945 figure the bulk, about 50,000 tons, had been produced by the Penrhyn and Dinorwic Quarries. Some had been shipped out through the Menai Straits ports - Port Penrhyn and Port Dinorwic.
A handful of the old local steam coasters carried on loading occasional slate cargoes. According to Roy Fenton in his book "Cambrian Coasters" Penrhyn's SYBIL MARY (built 1921) and Dinorwic's JULIET DUFF (built 1920) were the last two and were scrapped in 1955 . The last cargo of roofing slate from Port Penrhyn was loaded on to a Dutch motor coaster in 1962.
There has been development of the latter port in recent years and slate dust used in the plastics industry, granules and floor tiles are exported by sea on Dutch and German vessels. The debate over the transport of waste slate from Ffestiniog via the Conwy Valley line continues and the author is unaware if there has been any discussion of transport of this commodity by sea.
In 1982 when the line was re-opened the full length to Blaenau Ffestiniog a token load of four tons of slate was sent down the line to the quayside.
Last year a commemorative plaque of slate was brought down and was to be taken by a sailing vessel to Cardiff for the Millenium Centre.
The GARLANDSTONE lay at Porthmadog for a couple of years in the 1970s. She was loaned to the Morwelham Quay Museum in Devon near where she was built and has now been completely restored.
Sadly the EMILY BARRAT did not make it. She did survive but attempts by the Barrow Dock museum to restore her failed because of lack of funds and damage by vandals. Parts were salvaged for display.
The RESULT has been awaiting restoration funds for many years and lies in Northern Ireland. T
he SOLWAY LASS is a steel schooner built a hundred years ago and owned in Porthmadog for a couple of years in the 1930s. She survives and sails as a charter vessel in Australia.
The figurehead of the LADY AGNES was recently traced to Canada. It was purchased and returned to Cornwall and is now displayed at the museum in St Agnes where she was built in 1877.
The last remaining locally built vessel, the FLEETWING, a brig built in 1874 in Borth y Gest, today lies rotting away in Port Stanley, the Falklands - a long way from home.
2007 Latest news. I have heard from Steve Shakespeare that the remains of the FLEETWING have been bulldozed away and a seawall built on the site.
And so it ends - Felly Fydd
|Some personal drawings of local ships|
hope I am not breaking any copyright laws. There is no intention to as
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if you are going to use any of the information.
'Rwyn gobeithio nad wyf yn torri ynrhyw rheoliad cyhoeddi. Defnyddir y wybodaeth yma am pwrpas amaturaidd yn unig. Mae croeso i rhywyn sydd eisio cymryd â defnyddio'r wybodaethond cofiwch cyfraithiau cyhoeddi â cwrteisrwydd arferol y Wê Fyd Eang.
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