Porthmadog (known locally as ‘Port’) is situated on the edge of The Snowdonia National Park on the Afon Glaslyn estuary as it runs into Tremadog Bay. It’s one of the largest towns in the area with a population of around 4,200. It has a great range of shops which make it a natural base for holidaymakers who want to explore Snowdonia and the Llŷn Peninsula.
The town was only created in 1810-1811 after William Madocks built a sea wall called ‘The Cob’ which reclaimed a 7,000 acres of land from the sea. The land was originally reclaimed for agricultural use, but the work caused the Afon Glaslyn river to be diverted and this created a new natural harbour that was deep enough for the small sailing ships. These started to appear in the new port around 1825. It developed as a famous port later in the nineteenth century when it began exporting slate from the quarries in Ffestiniog and Llanfrothen to the expanding towns and cities in England and all over the world including. By 1873 more than a thousand ships left Porthmadog.
The tracks and locos left behind after the slate industry also make it one of the most popular tourist areas in Wales being the start of the Ffestiniog Railway, The Welsh Highland Railway and the smaller Welsh Highland Heritage Railway. It’s also one of the stations on the Cambrian Coast line which runs along the coast from Pwllheli to Machynlleth, from there is goes to Shrewsbury in the East or Aberystwyth in the South.
The Ffestiniog Railway was opened in 1836 and runs 13.4 miles to Blaenau Ffestiniog along the Vale of Ffestiniog. It was built to transport slate from quarries along the way, including Cwmorthin. The line was built on a gradual incline, so that carriages could travel all the way unpowered. Horses were transported down in special carriages, so they could then pull the empty wagons back up.