Former port, Lower Town, Fishguard

Link to French translation

The mouth of the river Gwaun now presents a scene of relaxation and leisure, but it was a busy port before the larger Fishguard Harbour opened in the early 20th century. The 1810 drawing (shown here courtesy of the National Library of Wales) depicts the view over the water to the houses of Quay Street.

Drawing of Fishguard Lower Town in 1810The four-storey Victorian warehouse across the river from the car park gives you an idea of how busy the quays here were. The elegant single-span river bridge is of similar age, built in 1875 to replace the multi-arch bridge you can see in the early photo, courtesy of Hanes Abergwaun (see website link below for details of features in the photo). The warehouse is visible beyond the bridge.

In 1871 a malthouse, malt kiln and stable were auctioned – advertised as “on the  margin of the river Gwaun, near the Pier, where steamers and other vessels discharge and take in goods”.

Photo of Lower Town before 1875The steep slopes of the lower Gwaun Valley sheltered the port, but in 1907 Lower Town Hill was claimed to be the “worst hill in the country” because of its steepness – at least three horses had been killed in accidents there. North Pembrokeshire’s steam roller wasn’t allowed down the hill, so Lower Town’s road surfaces weren’t compacted.

In 1914 the powerful motor car of a magistrate returning to Galway from Aberystwyth via Fishguard ran out of petrol near the top of the hill. His chauffeur got out and placed stones behind the wheels to supplement the brakes, but the empty car ran over them, crashed through a wall and fell 60 metres off a cliff edge.

The arrival of the railway in Goodwick in 1899 sowed the seeds of Lower Town’s demise as a port. As Fishguard Harbour thrived, Lower Town escaped modernisation. Its charming setting and narrow streets later attracted film makers. In 1954 Gregory Peck and other Hollywood stars shot scenes for Moby Dick here. Filming of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood brought a host of famous actors here in 1971, including Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Peter O’Toole.

Postcode: SA65 9ND    View Location Map

Larger version of old photo and details of features - Hanes Abergwaun website

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