Llyn Padarn boats, Llanberis

link_to_welsh_translationLlyn Padarn boats, Llanberis

Llyn Padarn has a long history of boating, for transport, fishing and leisure. Legendary strongwoman Marged ferch Ifan (1696-1793) used to row copper ore the length of Llyn Padarn, as you can read on our page about the site where her boat was loaded.

In 1977 divers surveying Llyn Padarn for the Dinorwig power station project discovered the wreck of a boat with a cargo of slates. It’s thought the boat had belonged to Allt Ddu slate quarry. From c.1790, slates were lowered from the quarry to the lake shore on an incline and taken by boat to Cwm-y-glo. The boats were redundant after a tramway opened c.1824.

Some local residents built boats as a sideline. A narrow rowing boat named Snowdon was built by a quarryman and won the Llyn Padarn race with four quarrymen rowing – beating teams of seasoned sailors from Caernarfon.

Workers who lived near the northern end of the lake used to commute in eight to 10 boats to the Dinorwig quarry. The rowing boats were narrow, ideal for racing but unstable in poor weather. When one of the boats capsized in 1848, six quarrymen from Cwm-y-Glo drowned and only one survived.

One quarryman who hired boats would offer to row visitors to the lower end of the lake and back. His English was basic, and he once startled a customer by explaining: “For a shilling extra, I will take you to the bottom.”

An annual regatta was held on the lake in the late 19th century. Race categories included sailing, four-oared gigs, rowing pairs, punting and sculling.

photo_of_snowdon_star_boatIn 1896 people gathered at the lakeside for the launching of a new boat, named Cwch y Mynydd (“boat of the mountain”) because a resident of the nearby uplands had built it. Its was ordered by Henry Parry of Coedmawr for catching torgoch, the lake’s unusual fish. Older people recalled how 700 fish at a time used to be caught in the lake.

In 1999 the lake became the new home of a 45-metre-long pleasure boat, renamed Seren yr Wyddfa/Snowdon Star (pictured right). It is on the register of National Historic Vessels. It was built in Bridlington, Yorkshire, in 1946 in anticipation of renewed tourism after the war. Named Shamrock II, it provided local cruises from Scarborough until one of its owners, Frank Dalton, died in a lifeboat accident in December 1951. He received a posthumous bronze medal for his part in rescuing 10 Dutch sailors from a ship. During the rescue he was fatally crushed between the ship and lifeboat.

Sources include: 'Wagenad o Straeon', by OR Williams, Gwasg Gee; and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales

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