Portmadoc Harbour & Ffestiniog - Wikimedia Commons

Porthmadog Tourist Guide

Introduction

Porthmadog is known locally as Port, is a small coastal town in the Eifionydd area. It is located in the Dwyfor local government district, in the county of Gwynedd, North Wales. Prior to the Local Government Act 1972, it was in Caernarfonshire. It has a population of 4,187 (2001 census).

Origins
Porthmadog came into existence after William Madocks built a long seawall, called the Cob, to reclaim a large proportion of the Traeth Mawr from the sea for agricultural use. This was completed in 1811. The origin of the name Porthmadog is unclear. Some claim that the town is named after its founder Madocks, and indeed historical documents show that Madocks himself referred to the town as "Pentre Gwaelod" (translated roughly into English as "Lower Village")[1].

The earliest documented references to "Port Madoc" emerge in the 1830s, coinciding with the opening of the Festiniog Railway and the subsequent dramatic growth of the town, and the first Ordnance Survey map to use this name was published in 1838.[2]

Some maintain that the place was named after Ynys Madoc (Madoc Island) in the Glaslyn Estuary and its famous resident Madog ap Owain Gwynedd, a prince who, according to legend, travelled to the Americas 300 years before Columbus.

The town was officially called Portmadoc until 1974, when it was renamed to the Welsh spelling and pronunciation.

Slate industry and transportation
Located on the Irish Sea coast, Porthmadog has a small harbour where ships used to load with slate carried on the many local narrow gauge railways that terminated there. These included the Croesor Tramway, Ffestiniog Railway, Gorseddau Tramway, and later on, and to a minor extent, the Welsh Highland Railway. In the second half of the 19th century Porthmadog was a flourishing port. A number of shipbuilders were active here at this time, and were particularly well-known for the three-masted schooners known as the "Western Ocean Yachts". Porthmadog's role as a commercial port was effectively ended by the First World War. The slate wharves have now been partly built over with holiday apartments, and the harbour is used by leisure yachts.
Ffestiniog Railway Porthmadog station

Porthmadog Harbour railway station at the southern end of the High Street is the terminus of the Ffestiniog Railway from Blaenau Ffestiniog. The Welsh Highland Railway (Porthmadog) has its main station and visitor centre near the northern end of the High Street on the former Cambrian Railways sidings and close to the main line station on the Cambrian Coast Line from Pwllheli to Barmouth and Machynlleth. In 2009 the rebuilt Welsh Highland Railway from Caernarfon and Rhyd Ddu is planned to be reopened via Beddgelert to Porthmadog, also operating trains to the Ffestiniog Railway's harbour station with the possibility of through services from Caernarfon to Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Porthmadog harbour and the Ffestiniog station

Culture and sports
According to the United Kingdom Census 2001, the number of speakers of the Welsh language in all age groups was 75%, with the highest percentage of Welsh speakers being in the 10-14 range (96.3%). There is a very strong Welsh culture and community, with almost all community activities held in the Welsh Language.

The primary school, Ysgol Eifion Wyn is named after the bardic name of Eliseus Williams, a local poet. Ysgol Eifionydd, Porthmadog is a bilingual comprehensive school, which was established circa 1900.

Near Porthmadog is Portmeirion, where much of the 1960s television series The Prisoner was filmed.

Porthmadog hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1987.

The local football club, CPD Porthmadog FC, play in the League of Wales. There is also a local rugby union club, Porthmadog RFC, who play at Clwb Chwaraeon Madog and are in the Gwynedd League.[3]

A cycle route now crosses the Cob, this forming part of Lôn Las Cymru, the Welsh national cycle route.

Three members of the Genod droog come from Porthmadog

Welsh Singer Duffy shot her first video Rockferry in Porthmadog.

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015