Porthdinllaen harbour

Porthdinllaen harbour

Photo of Porthdinllaen harbour in 1893Porthdinllaen harbour is famous for the buildings squeezed between the high-tide mark and the promontory’s steep slopes. It wouldn’t be so picturesque today had plans for a ferry port come to fruition!

There was an extensive Iron Age fort on the promontory. Some banks and ditches remain. Porthdinllaen means “the harbour of Dinllaen”. Dynthlen, as it was written c.1300, was a commote whose name referred to the fort (din). The second element of Dinllaen comes from the name of the Lageni tribe, written as Lhein c.1191. This also survives in the names of the Llŷn Peninsula and Leinster, Ireland.

To hear how to pronounce Porthdinllaen, press play:

The natural harbour in the lee of the promontory was useful for landing and loading cargo. Passing ships sometimes took shelter from the prevailing westerly wind here. Boats and small ships were built on the shore. Sails were also made there.

Large volumes of herring were caught and salted locally, as you can read on our page about the fishery. There are records of 1,200 empty barrels arriving in Porthdinllaen from Chester in 1612 and sloops taking herrings from here to Chester in 1620. Livestock was transported via the harbour, in both directions.

In the early 19th century a harbour company was formed and Parliamentary powers were obtained for Porthdinllaen to become a port for ships to Dublin. Road access to Porthdinllaen was improved. Enterprising MP William Maddocks had a causeway built at Porthmadog by 1811 which he hoped would become part of the new coaching route from London to Dublin via Porthdinllaen.

However, the established port at Holyhead (Anglesey) was favoured over Porthdinllaen, thanks partly to Thomas Telford’s daring plans for a giant suspension bridge across the Menai Strait.

Porthdinllaen has belonged to the National Trust since 1994. The top of the promontory is mostly occupied by a nine-hole golf course, an adjunct to Nefyn Golf Club’s 18-hole course. The club was formed in 1907 at a meeting in the Tŷ Coch Inn in Porthdinllaen.

Postcode: LL53 6DB    View Location Map

With thanks to Rhiw.com, and to Prof Hywel Wyn Owen of the Welsh Place-Name Society for place-name information

More on Porthdinllaen shipping – Rhiw.com website 

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