Lombard Street, Porthmadog
This street’s name reflects the prosperity of Porthmadog in the heyday of its slate trade. It copies the name of the City of London street where major banks had their offices for centuries. That Lombard Street probably got its name after financiers from Lombardy (in what’s now Italy) were given land in London in 1318 to establish goldsmiths’ shops – forerunners of banks
At its northern end, Lombard Street meets called Bank Place. One of the moving forces behind Porthmadog’s first bank was Captain Richard Prichard, who had sailed his ship over the Atlantic for 15 years carrying slates and emigrants to the USA. He settled in Porthmadog in 1835 and was involved in many new businesses as the town flourished. When he was 72 years old, events in Australia convinced him to go to sea again, as you can read on our page about The Australia pub.
The slate industry played a direct part in the early history of banking in Porthmadog. Samuel Holland, a pioneer of large-scale Welsh slate quarrying, set up a savings bank in Porthmadog in 1845. Earlier he had come up with the idea of the Ffestiniog Railway, to carry slates to the new docks at Porthmadog.
The North and South Wales Bank opened a branch in Porthmadog by 1840. After the financial crisis of 1847-48, the branch was taken on as a bank by a partnership of industrialists with interests in the local slate quarries. Among them were Lancashire men William Turner and William Casson. Turner, whose father owned an English slate quarry, struck lucky when the Diffwys vein in Blaenau Ffestiniog began to produce large amounts of first-rate slate.
If you’ve just scanned the QR codes at the park boundary, try to imagine the park area when ropes were made here for the sailings ships which visited or were built at Porthmadog.
The high quality of the buildings along Lombard Street are signs that this was a well-heeled town, compared with many others in North Wales. Opposite you is the Masonic Hall, dating from the late 19th century and boasting an Italianate portico. Look closely at the railings to see how they include depictions of squares and dividers, a symbol of freemasonry.
Postcode: LL49 9AP