Harbour Trust office, Caernarfon

slate-plaque

Link to Welsh translationHarbour Trust office, Caernarfon

This building, facing the former slate quay, was erected in 1840 as the office of Caernarfon Harbour Trust – which still occupies it. The boardroom still has its original furniture, minus one chair! The building was designed by local architect John Lloyd.

By the late 18th century, Caernarfon’s harbour facilities needed significant improvement for the fast-growing slate trade. In 1793 an Act of Parliament enabled the Caernarfon Harbour Trust’s formation. The trust created a new slate quay by widening and deepening the river Seiont. It also improved navigation facilities on the Menai Strait.

Photo of Caernarfon harbour office in 1950
The harbour office in 1950, courtesy of the RCAHMW and its Coflein website

The trust had no official home until 1840, when it moved in to its new building. Facilities here included a room for the trust’s regular meetings and a goods weighing machine outside. The building’s clock was made by David Griffith, who was also an accomplished poet (bardic name Clwydfardd) and went on to become the Archdruid of Wales.

In 1900 trust member Thomas Bugbird died from his injuries after being thrown from a coach when the horses were startled by a motor car. His construction company had carried out works in Caernarfon, Holyhead and many other places.

The trust’s improvements included construction of the Victoria Pier – for passengers to arrive by ship from Liverpool and elsewhere – and the “Patent Slip” at Victoria Dock for repair and construction of ships and boats.

Trust chairman Sir Llewelyn Turner had campaigned for the dock’s construction. The dock was completed by 1874 and handled general cargo, leaving the slate quay to focus on slates. However, by the time the loan of £24,000 for the construction was repaid in 1907, the port had declined. Railways had replaced coastal shipping.

No doubt Sir Llywelyn would be pleased to see the buzz in the dock today! The trust’s main task is to manage the marina in the dock and the river Seiont pleasure-boat moorings. The trust remains responsible for maintaining the Menai Strait as a navigable waterway between Abermenai and Y Felinheli.

In 2008 it bought a new boat, Seiont IV, from Macduff Shipyards in Aberdeenshire. It uses the boat to maintain navigation and mooring buoys, among other tasks.

The old photo, courtesy of the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales, shows the building in 1950.

With thanks to Rhiannon James, of Caernarfon Civic Society

Postcode: LL55 2PF    View Location Map

Website of Caernarfon Harbour Trust

Copies of the old photo and other images are available from the RCAHMW. Contact: nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk 

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