Conwy railway arch

Link to French translationConwy railway arch

Many of Britain’s medieval features were demolished in later centuries as new roads and railways were built, but Conwy was an exception. New arches were created in the medieval town walls where the railway passed through and for all but one of the new roads into the walled town.

Engraving of Conwy station and railway archThe railway arch near Conwy station represents an exceptional effort to mitigate the damage caused by building the Chester & Holyhead Railway through the walled town in the 1840s. Robert Stephenson oversaw the main engineering elements.

The railway company erected a broad, Gothic archway over the tracks. They emulated the walls’ castellated parapet and continued the line of the wall walk – the elevated footway designed for medieval soldiers to defend the town. A small section of the original arch was later hacked away at the eastern end as trains became larger and the arch threatened to foul coach roofs as they rounded the curve.

The engraving (above right) was published in 1848 in a book celebrating the railway’s completion. It shows the ornate station building as well as the railway arch and an approaching steam train.

To the west of the railway arch you can see a smaller arch in the town walls. This was originally associated with a siding to the railway signals depot, which was in the space now occupied by the Twr Llywelyn housing complex. The depot manager lived in Rosemary Cottage. This arch is now used by pedestrians, and by cars accessing Twr Llywelyn.

Where the railway leaves the walled town further north, there’s no exit wound in the town walls because the track runs in tunnel beneath the walls. The tunneling appears to have caused a section of the tower above to lower, opening two cracks in the masonry.


Where is this HiPoint?

Postcode: LL32 8HY

Other RAILWAY HiPoints in this area:
Penmaenmawr railway station
Stephenson's Tubular Bridge, Conwy
- a tunnel above a river

Website of Network Rail archives - Chester & Holyhead Railway

Thanks for Network Rail and Arriva Trains Wales for agreeing to host these barcodes, in support of the HistoryPoints project