Victoria Dock, Caernarfon

button-theme-evaclink_to_welsh_translation link_to_french_translationVictoria Dock, Caernarfon

Victoria Dock was constructed as the New Basin from 1868 to 1875. Previously the slate quay south of the castle had been the main focus of 19th-century harbour expansion in Caernarfon. In 1852 trains began running from the main line at Bangor to a terminus station where the Morrison’s supermarket now stands in Caernarfon. Later the railway was extended via a tunnel under Y Maes (the square outside the castle). These tracks provided excellent access to the New Basin area.

The slate quay continued to handle industrial exports and imports, while Victoria Dock was intended for general trade connected with the town and its hinterland. This revived the orientation of the 13th-century walled town, whose thriving import trade was based on quays at the mouth of the Cadnant river, to the north.

A steel footbridge crosses the “patent slipway”. Its halves can be rolled aside to make way for boats. The slipway was built in 1830 for shipbuilding and repairs, and was retained when Victoria Dock was developed. It was wide enough for ocean-going ships to be hauled onto dry land. Before mechanical winches, local people were paid to help haul the ships up the slope.

Elizabeth Davidson, aged 64, drowned in Victoria Dock on a stormy night in 1916 after following her drunken brother William to his boat, on which he lived. William, a fisherman, had fallen into the dock water earlier. He was pulled out and taken to Elizabeth’s house in Crown Street, but later returned to his boat. Fearing that he might fall in again, she followed him to the dock and fell in.

During the Second World War, the North East Coast Aircraft Company (NECACO) relocated from England to the Victory Works, beside Victoria Dock, and to the Dinorwig slate quarry, Llanberis. The Victory Works was primarily used to train many of the 3,000 staff, who made components for some of the RAF’s most famous planes – including the Halifax, Lancaster, Stirling and Wellington bombers. Later in the war they were instrumental in producing engine casings for the Gloster Meteor, the first jet fighter deployed by the RAF.

In 1997 Victoria Dock was reopened as a marina for leisure boats, with a new flap gate across the mouth of the dock. This can be raised or lowered to ensure that the water in the dock is at least two metres deep, even at low tide.

With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front Museum, Llandudno, for NECACO information

Postcode: LL55 1SR

Website of Caernarfon Harbour Trust

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