Site of Caernarfon railway station

Site of Caernarfon railway station

The Morrisons supermarket occupies the site of Caernarfon’s railway station and goods sidings.

Aerial view of Caernarfon railway station in 1953
Caernarfon railway station in 1953, courtesy of the RCAHMW and its Coflein website

Use the spire of Christ Church to orientate the aerial view from the Aerofilms Collection of the National Monuments Record of Wales (courtesy of the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales). The station platforms and buildings are left of the church.

Right of the church are a signal box and goods shed for cargo transfer. Trains continued through the town centre to Afonwen (near Porthmadog) and Llanberis, passing the site of today’s narrow-gauge railway station. The sidings near the shore were on a lower level, with track continuing to the Shell-Mex and BP depot at Victoria Dock.

The station opened in July 1852 as terminus of a branch line from the Chester to Holyhead railway. The railway had recently been extended through the town when a fatal accident occurred in 1871 – as the station was temporarily under the control of a 17-year-old ticket clerk!

The clerk authorised departure of a train to Llanberis because stationmaster Joseph Evans and the foreman porter were off duty. When the engine driver whistled, signalman James Partington gave permission to depart, having forgotten that another train was shunting back to the station from Turf Square. The collision killed porter John Evans, the stationmaster’s son. James was charged with manslaughter but acquitted, the judge remarking that he seemed to be the only person doing his duty when the accident happened.

The station and sidings were expanded in 1894. The London & North Western Railway ran special trains from South Wales to Caernarfon for that year’s National Eisteddfod.

In 1911 two temporary platforms were needed for the crowds descending on the town for the Prince of Wales’ investiture ceremony. The prince himself alighted at Griffiths Crossing station.

Caernarfon lost its passenger trains to Afonwen (near Porthmadog) in 1964 and those to Bangor in January 1970. The line from Bangor reopened temporarily a few months later, for Irish Sea cargo to be transshipped in Caernarfon after the Britannia Bridge fire severed the railway to Holyhead. Today much of the route is now a traffic-free path.

Postcode: LL55 1BA    View Location Map

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