Former railway tunnels and PoW camp, Faenol, Bangor

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Link to Welsh translationFormer railway tunnels and PoW camp, Faenol, Bangor

Here the Parc Menai road passes over the old Bangor to Caernarfon railway route. To the south are the twin railway tunnels, above which was a prisoner of war camp in the 1940s.

When the railway opened, initially as far south as Y Felinheli, in 1852 there was only one track. The “Vaynol tunnel”, 455 metres long, was the largest item of civil engineering on the route. A second tunnel bore was completed in 1874 so that the line had one track for each direction. The railway closed in the early 1970s.

In 2012 police found a large cannabis farm in the tunnels, capable of producing £1.5m worth of the illicit drug per year. Four men were jailed. The operation had started as a legitimate mushroom farm. Complex electrical equipment, ventilation and security cameras were installed for cannabis production.

Above the tunnels is a warehouse which was occupied by The Book People, before the online book retailer went into administration in December 2019. The warehouse is on the site of a camp where Italian prisoners of war (PoWs) were held while working on local farms. By August 1945, the camp was set aside for Germans. Repatriation of German PoWs was delayed until 1947-1948.

The camp had three Nissen huts, each hosting 20 prisoners. British soldiers guarded the site. There was never an attempt to escape.

The prisoners were allowed copies of German newspapers and once a fortnight they watched German films at the community hall in Y Felinheli. They weren’t allowed to work on the same farms for more than one week, to prevent them getting too familiar with the farming families.

Among the prisoners was Richard Stuhlfelder, a former paratrooper who chose not to return to Germany. His parents lived in Neuoelsnitz, in Communist East Germany. In 1949 he married Majorie Jane Vaughan of Llandudno. The couple raised a family in Y Felinheli, where Richard worked for a local butcher for 36 years. He had been a butcher before the war.

Another prisoner, Heinz Nowack, also settled locally and worked on a farm near Caernarfon until the 1980s.

With thanks to Gareth Roberts of Menter Fachwen

Postcode: LL57 4FA    View Location Map

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