Former slate dock, Y Felinheli
The northern part of Port Dinorwic Marina occupies the dock where slates from the sprawling Dinorwig slate quarry were transferred from railway wagons to ships. The dock complex stretches for half a kilometre along what was originally an inlet, and is so complete that it is listed Grade II.
The Assheton-Smyth family began to develop a dock here in the 1790s. They lived at Vaynol Park (now Y Faenol), north of Y Felinheli. Their estate included the huge Dinorwig slate quarry, near Llanberis.
The photo of the dock c1875 is shown here courtesy of the National Library of Wales. The dock complex we see here today mostly dates from an enlargement completed in 1902. Stonework from the 1820s probably survives at the seaward end. The enlargement included a new lock, to enable ships to move in and out of the dock at all states of tide.
Further upstream is a steel lifting bridge, which is still raised when boats need to pass. The building which faces the drawbridge was the harbour offices, erected during the enlargement. Its walls are covered with slates.
Y Felinheli was known as Port Dinorwic during the slate industry’s heyday. Near Llanberis, laden wagons from the Dinorwig quarry tramways were placed onto larger “host wagons” for transport along the Padarn Railway, whose gauge was twice as wide (1.2 metres between the rails). The smaller wagons were unloaded at the top of an incline, along which they descended to the dock.
The dock also had a standard-gauge railway track, which connected to the Bangor-Caernarfon railway for slates to be distributed by train across Britain.
Generations of mariners, as well as dock workers, lived in Y Felinheli. Most of the local men who died in the Second World War were in the Merchant Navy, which kept Britain and its Allies supplied with vital food and materials. The First World War also took a heavy toll on local families, including the Assheton-Smyths. Sir Robin Duff, heir to the Vaynol Estate, died in action in 1914. See our page about Y Felinheli war memorial for details.
Postcode: LL56 4JN View Location Map