Wrapped around the castle and walled town of Caernarfon is a waterfront which has been integral to the fortunes of the town throughout its history. There was probably a harbour here long before the foundation of the medieval town and castle in the late thirteenth century. The town benefitted from two working rivers as well as a long frontage to the Menai Strait which provided essential trading links. In the nineteenth century, the two river mouths were developed as harbours - Victoria Dock for general coastal trade, and the Slate Quays as a specialist harbour for the export of slate. Associated with the impressive structure of Victoria Dock are the remains of a series of compounds and some nineteenth-century buildings – reminders of the working history of the port. The Slate Quays were also laid out in a series of compounds where slate was stored and where small industries operated. Between the two harbour areas, the medieval wharves that stretched alongside the Menai had a new lease of life as a promenade. Today, a walk along the waterfronts is a walk through many chapters in the story of the town.
This study was carried out to inform emerging proposals for the regeneration of the waterfront, which is a critical part of the World Heritage Site of castle and town walls. It also provides a general introduction to the historical development and character of the town as a whole, as a source of information for planning and management, and for anyone wanting to get to know Caernarfon and its waterfronts better.
See the results of the Caernarfon Waterfront Regeneration Project on our Partnerships and Projects page here.