Porth Penrhyn bridges, Bangor

Porth Penrhyn bridges, Bangor

In this vicinity, four bridge spans carry two roads over former railways and the river Cegin.

The upper road leads to a side entrance to Penrhyn Park, home of the family which developed the Penrhyn slate quarry into the world’s largest. Porth Penrhyn, the harbour here, was developed for loading ships with slate conveyed from the quarry on the narrow-gauge Penrhyn Quarry Railway.

The PQR passed under the estate road where walkers and cyclists now follow the Wales Coast Path and Lon Las Ogwen. The PQR had two parallel tracks here, which is why the arch is wider than normal for a narrow-gauge railway.

The almost identical arch to the east accommodated the London & North Western Railway’s single-track line, installed in the 1850s. This was standard gauge and connected Porth Penrhyn (historically known as Port Penrhyn) to Britain’s rail network.

West of the old railway bridges, a wider stone arch spans the river. Notice the ornate cast-iron parapet. In 1905 Brigadier-General Charles Parker Ridley, who had recently been in action in the South African (Boer) War, had a close shave here. He was travelling in a large, 30-horsepower car with his daughter Iris and Colonel John Higson of Llanrwst to the home of the Penrhyn estate’s agent. At the river bridge, the car skidded and crashed into the stone part of the parapet. Nobody was injured. Had it hit the cast-iron parapet it would probably have fallen into the river.

The deck of the lower bridge over the river is on a gradient to ease the climb out of Porth Penrhyn for laden lorries, including those conveying Menai mussels to the European mainland. It replaced a road bridge with cast-iron spans which was horizontal and also carried a narrow-gauge spur line to the coal yard on the west bank (where some of railway track survives).

It was near this bridge that Talybont resident Robert Roberts met his death in January 1869, aged 21. Described as a “tall handsome young man”, he was operating a crane (registered to lift up to four tons) to move a schooner across the river to the coal yard. The crane’s cast-iron jib snapped under the vessel’s weight, smashing Robert’s skull and killing him instantly.

Postcode: LL57 4HN    View Location Map