Monday, 26 November 2012

Porth Wen Brickworks


 SH403945 on the Coastal path.

A fascinating relic sitting on the north coast of Anglesey. The works comprise a quarry, incline and the decaying remains of brick kilns and machinery from the early C20th. Clay of a very high silica content was found here, suitable for the manufacture of refractory bricks, which were shipped out via the quay beside the works to the steelmaking centres of the north west of England. Unfortunately, while the factory had good access to the sea, the anchorage was exposed to say the least and it was a foolish master who allowed his vessel to linger any more than was strictly neccessary at high tide. Vessels would be barged against the quay in a heavy swell and damaged. All raw materials, such as coal for the furnaces, had to be brought in by sea, so that when the price of bricks fell in the early 1900's, ships masters were not keen to dock by the brickworks for smaller returns. This caused the works to close in 1914.


 Access is very difficult due to the erosion of the clay hillside above the works. The path, on the day we visited, was little more than a torrent as water cascaded down. Progress was difficult. However, the site is a gem, in a quiet bay with a variety of fascinating artefacts still hanging on against the elements. The works is on private property and while there are no notices to that effect, I can understand the land owner being anxious about folk injuring themselves on this precarious site. For those wary of the path down to the works, it can be seen from the coastal path above, where the incline head and drumhouse can be inspected.

 I'm not going to regurgitate information about the site that others have gathered-for a proper account,  I suggest a look at the very interesting  feature about Porth Wen by Dave Sallery here

Petra's (far superior) photographs of our day are here.

More photographs by Graham Stephen here

One of three beehive kilns on the site.
The entrance to one of the kilns.
The rusty remains of a Lancashire type boiler resting against the quayside.

The remains of a very fine stationary engine, used to power machinery in the mill area of the works.The cylinder and connecting rod have been taken, probably because they would have been made of high-grade steel.

Engine details.
Brick kilns seen from the quayside, with the rock storage area behind.
A ship lying in the roads off Anglesey glimpsed from inside a Lancashire boiler.

From inside one of the buildings.



Petra takes a photo, seen from inside the rusted remains of a Lancashire boiler.

One of two chimneys on site.
Spiders still in the drumhouse above the site.




4 comments:

geotopoi said...

Nice work Iain! Glad you made it there.

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks, Graham. I'd been wanting to go there ever since seeing your blog post.

workbike said...

I didn't realise Anglesea was so varied, having only seen the other, rather flatter sode from the train.

Amazing how the company simply walked away from the brickworks when they decided to stop working there.

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks, Andy...yes, the island is rich in industrial archaeology and gets a little bumpier towards the top, although not much so.
I think much of the machinery was taken to a brickworks in Caernarfon after closure...although I'm glad they just walked away from it, leaving somewhere rather romantic to explore!

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