New York Bridge, Penmaenmawr
This bridge, named after the nearby New York Cottages, crosses a conveyor belt which takes stone from the quarries high on the hillside to a loading hopper by the mainline railway. The bridge was probably built in the mid 19th century. The bridge’s beautifully constructed pillars and carved tops are a credit to the stonemasons who built the structure.
The belt follows a route originally constructed as an inclined plane for railway wagons. The weight of laden descending wagons hauled empty ones up to the top, by means of a cable which passed through a winding house for regulation of the wagons’ speed. The railway remained in use until the 1950s.
Originally the incline conveyed stone not only to the railway but also to a jetty, for loading onto ships for export. Penmaenmawr stone is an exceptionally high quality form of granite, and was much in demand in many parts of Europe for construction of docks and other structures.
In 1882 Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone and his wife, holidaying in Penmaenmawr, ascended to the quarries in an empty wagon on the incline. The experience was so frightening that they insisted on walking down!
The granite quarries at Penmaenmawr had 124km (77 miles) of railways with different gauges. There were several inclines to move stone between different quarry levels.
Transport within and from the quarry is now provided by lorries. In recent years the stone has been crushed to make tarmac. Some is also used as railway ballast (the stones packed beneath the tracks), taken by diesel engines to Network Rail’s strategic ballast stores.
With thanks to David Bathers and Dennis Roberts, of Penmaenmawr Historical Society
Postcode: LL34 6NP