Ford and skew bridge, near Bangor

Ford and skew bridge, Llandygai, near Bangor

In this vicinity, the road known as Lôn Cefn Tŷ (‘Lane behind house’) dips steeply to a ford after crossing over the route of the Penrhyn Quarry Railway on a skew bridge. The route of the railway is now the Lôn Las Ogwen cycle and foot path (also part of the Wales Coast Path).

Photo of Penrhyn quarry train approaching skew bridgeThe narrow-gauge PQR transported slate from the giant Penrhyn slate quarry to Porth Penrhyn, where it was loaded into ships. The rails were 578mm (1ft 10.75ins) apart.

The railway mostly used the route of the horse-worked Penrhyn Tramway of 1801, but here it took a more westerly course – engineered in the 1870s for steam locomotives to haul trains of slate wagons. Skew bridges were relatively complex to build from stone or brick, as the courses could not be parallel to the abutments. Notice the toothed pattern at the ends of the brick arch here.

The photo, shown here courtesy of Tony Travis, was taken on 21 August 1959 from a southbound train, showing locomotive Blanche (now on the Ffestiniog Railway) under the bridge. The usual empty slate wagons were supplemented on that occasion by a quarrymen’s coach for a school party.

West of the ford, Lôn Cefn Tŷ climbs and passes under a former railway bridge, originally part of the London & North Western Railway’s standard-gauge branch line to Bethesda. This connected the town to the main railway network at Bethesda Junction, a little north of here.

The footbridge alongside the ford has handrails on both sides. There was a handrail on only one side in 1906, when a man’s body was found in the river Cegin with no identifying articles except a ticket for the Lehigh Valley Railroad – in Pennsylvania! A mark on the footbridge corresponded to the man’s right boot heel. He appeared to have lost his footing when crossing the ford in darkness.

Police eventually discovered that he was Robert Roberts of Cae Esgob, Llanberis. He was born about 3km from the ford. He had lived almost 40 years in the USA and returned to Britain as his health deteriorated. He left a widow and grown-up children in America.

East of the ford is Parc Bryn Cegin, site of a prehistoric settlement.

With thanks to Robin Willis, of the Penrhyn Quarry Railway Society, and Tony Travis

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