Historic Landscape Characterisation

Amlwch – Area 1 Porth Amlwch harbour PRN 28641


The harbour at Porth Amlwch



Historical background

A harbour which is known to have been acknowledged as an actual or potential shipping point for mineral ores since the sixteenth century but which only developed on any scale from the mid-eighteenth centur y , with the sudden expansion of mining. As well as providing the means for storing copper ores which were being exported, the harbour area also came to include the site of smelting furnaces, timber saw-mills, ship-building yards, warehouses, a lime-kiln, a light-house and breakwate r , a sail loft and brothels. In addition, the smelting furnaces established to the west of the harbour area required coal as a fuel, and a bin in which to store it, and an inclined plane to raise it from the quay level.

The decline in copper export from the early- to mid-nineteenth century onwards did not mean that the harbour cased to be used as it remained a busy regional entrepôt until the early years of the twentieth century. Wooden shipbuilding went on until 1897, and iron- and steel-hulled ships continued to be built for some years after that. The harbour is now used for recreational purposes.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Historic mineral harbour.

Porth Amlwch is one of the best-preserved small mineral harbours in W ales. Its cramped location is in many respects more typical of a small west-country harbour than a W elsh harbou r , and it is unusual in that it was never rail-served, other than by a very short system to move coal from the coal-bin to the smelte r . Some of the quay walls are laid in a distinctive wa y , with the stones laid in a near-vertical alignment; this is said locally to represent Cornish influence.

Its archaeology has been comprehensively studied and inventories have been prepared of the surviving historic features. There have been some attempts at conservation of the lighthouse, the lime-kiln and the copper- and coal-bins. In addition, the sail loft, with its characteristic raked floor, has been converted into a café-interpretation centre.

The Conservation Area which is co-terminus with this character area includes the majority of the port, including the sail loft, the mainly eighteenth-century houses of distinctive design along Pen Cei, and the houses on the square defined by Machine Street and Lon Cei. It also includes the relict archaeological landscape on the west of the harbour, the site of the dilapidated buildings of a shipyard, tavern, quay and saw-mill.


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Ymwelwch a'n safleoedd rhwydwaith cymdeithasol