The 'Mulberry' wartime secret

link to french translationThe Mulberry wartime secret, Conwy Marina

The Mulberry restaurant and bar is named after a secret wartime project which was tested near here. ‘Mulberry’ was the codename for a project during the Second World War to build parts for two harbours which would be floated to northern France to aid the re-occupation in 1944.

The scheme was the brainchild of London-based civil engineer Hugh Iorys Hughes (1902-77), who hailed from Garth, Bangor. He foresaw that the Allies would need to build harbours from prefabricated components on distant beaches because the established French ports were too heavily guarded. Senior officials were alerted to his concept by his brother, a Royal Navy commander.

From 1942 to 1944, almost 1,000 men worked at Morfa Conwy, the beach and dune area north of the town where the estuary meets the sea. Among them was Olef Kerensky, son of a former prime minister of Russia. The men constructed three giant caissons, known as Hippos. Some components were fabricated in other places and transported to Morfa Conwy for assembly.

A major training exercise in Carmarthenshire in July 1943 demonstrated the difficulties of landing troops and supplies on beaches and may have convinced the authorities that the Mulberry project was the solution. Thousands more men around Britain were diverted to the project, constructing more than 200 caissons in various parts of the country.

The structures were towed to France and linked to form two harbour walls. They helped the Allies to take ashore large numbers of vehicles, personnel, communications equipment and other supplies – vital to sustaining the frontline forces as they pushed deeper into enemy territory. After the war, Albrecht Speer (the former Nazi minister of ammunition production) paid tribute to Hughes’ concept, describing it as an idea of simple genius.

More information about the Mulberry harbours at Conwy, and photos, are on display inside The Mulberry restaurant and bar. The construction site is visible in a photo on our page about pilot whales stranded on local beaches in 1944.

Postcode: LL32 8GU    View Location Map

Website of The Mulberry restaurant and bar

Other MILITARY HiPoints in this area:
Conwy war memorial
Gunnery school site - training on really big guns from the Royal Artillery
Site of army camp, Morfa Conwy – visitors included Scouts founder Baden Powell

Wales Coastal Path Label Navigation anticlockwise buttonNavigation clockwise button