Site of Britannia Foundry, Porthmadog
At the town end of the Cob is the site of the Britannia Foundry, which built railway wagons and other equipment. An office building occupied the site until January 2021, when it was demolished to make way for a hotel.
The foundry opened c.1851, mainly to supply machinery to the area’s rapidly growing slate quarries. Having established its reputation locally, it received many orders in the 20th century from further afield. It built winding drums (for the cables which hauled the wagons up inclines) for quarries near Mold, Llangollen and Corwen. It supplied narrow-gauge turntables to quarries in Dorset and County Cork, and even wrenches to Australia.
The foundry supplied many narrow-gauge quarry wagons. Its locomotive repair business was mainly for industrial railways, but the miniature Fairbourne Railway was also a customer.
In June 1882 the foundry, then owned by JH Williams & Sons, was damaged by a fire, which destroyed the casting shop’s contents and roof. Housing behind the foundry was also damaged, and terrified residents carried their furniture into the street. Hundreds of townspeople hauled water in buckets to fight the fire. A newspaper reported that Thursdays were the foundry’s casting days, and speculated that sparks had landed on wooden casting patterns. It estimated the damage at more than £1,000.
Another newspaper ascribed the fire to an explosion earlier in the day because of steam in a casting tube. Its columnist hoped that the fire would lead to the formation of a local fire brigade.
During the Second World War, Dutch commandos who were temporarily based in Porthmadog used the foundry’s walls for climbing practice.
The foundry was demolished in 1972. For many years the Inland Revenue occupied the offices that were built on the site, handling Welsh-language enquiries there.
Postcode: LL49 9NB View Location Map
Detailed information on the foundry – Industrial Railway Society website