Site of ferry terminal, Caernarfon

Site of ferry terminal, Caernarfon

Here was the southern terminal of the ferry route to Tal-y-foel, Anglesey, until 1954. The route went almost due north from Caernarfon, crossing the Menai Strait diagonally.

For communities on the opposite shore, Caernarfon was the established local town for markets, education, services and even the workhouse (for poor people), until bus services improved access to Llangefni.

Ferries connected Caernarfon to three locations on Anglesey for many centuries. The Menai Strait was notoriously difficult for mariners because the tide rises and falls from each end at slightly different times, creating cross currents. Caernarfon ferries suffered many accidents, including the drowning of 30 people on the Tal-y-foel ferry in 1723.

A ferryboat was swamped near Caernarfon in 1820 while carrying 22 passengers, mostly women going to Caernarfon market. Only one survived. The Menai Suspension Bridge, opened in 1826, made road journeys possible between Caernarfon and communities opposite, but the route was circuitous.

In 1923 the Tal-y-foel route received a new paddle steamer, named Menna, which later operated in Pembrokeshre – see our Neyland harbour web page for a photo of it. Menna was displaced in 1929 by a motor ferry, registered for 100 passengers, which the government requisitioned in the Second World War. A smaller ferry was substituted, although demand for the Tal-y-Foel ferry had increased because petrol rationing affected road transport.

The “Foel ferry” had been in poor financial shape since the 1870s, when Caernarfon Town Council took responsibility for it despite its previous operator, who had lost £2,000 on it,  warning that it would not pay. In 1890 the service was only two-hourly.

In 1953 the loss-making ferry carried 8,481 passengers, compared with 41,254 in 1941. The last ferry journey was on 31 July 1954.

With thanks to Clive James, of Caernarfon Civic Society. Sources include ‘Fferiau I Fôn/Ferries to Anglesey’ by Thomas Meirion Hughes, 1996

Postcode: LL55 1SR    View Location Map

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