Victoria Dock, Caernarfon
Victoria Dock was constructed as the New Basin from 1868 to 1875. Previously the slate quay south of the castle had been the main focus of 19th-century harbour expansion in Caernarfon, but in 1852 trains began running on a railway from the main line at Bangor. The terminus station was where the Morrison’s supermarket now stands. Subsequently the railway was extended via a tunnel under Y Maes (the square outside the castle). These tracks provided excellent access to the New Basin area.
The slate quay continued to handle industrial exports and imports, while Victoria Dock was intended for general trade connected with the town and its hinterland. This revived the orientation of the 13th-century walled town, whose thriving import trade was based on quays at the mouth of the Cadnant river, to the north.
A steel footbridge crosses the “patent slipway”. Its halves can be rolled aside to make way for boats. The slipway was built in 1830 for shipbuilding and repairs, and was retained when Victoria Dock was developed. It was wide enough for ocean-going ships to be hauled onto dry land. Before mechanical winches, local people were paid to help haul the ships up the slope.
In 1997 Victoria Dock was reopened as a marina for leisure boats, with a new flap gate across the mouth of the dock. This can be raised or lowered to ensure that the water in the dock is at least two metres deep, even at low tide.