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Porthmadog known locally as "Port" and since 1974, rendered into Welsh from its former Anglicised form, Portmadoc, is a small coastal town and community in the Eifionydd area of Gwynedd, in Wales. Prior to the Local Government Act 1972 it was in the administrative county of Caernarfonshire. The town lies 5 miles (8 km) east of Criccieth, 11 miles (18 km) south west of Blaenau Ffestiniog, 25 miles north of Dolgellau and 20 miles (32 km) south of Caernarfon. The community had a population of 4,185
The town developed in the 19th century as a port exporting slate to England and around the world. Since the decline of the slate industry it has become an important shopping centre for the surrounding area and a popular tourist destination. It has easy access to the Snowdonia National Park and is the terminus of the Ffestiniog Railway. In 1987 the National Eisteddfod was held in Porthmadog.
The community includes the nearby villages of Borth-y-Gest, Morfa Bychan and Tremadog.
HistoryPorthmadog came into existence after William Madocks, in 1810, built a sea wall, the Cob, to reclaim a large proportion of Traeth Mawr from the sea for agricultural use. The diversion of the Afon Glaslyn caused it to scour out a new natural harbour which had a deep enough draught for small ocean-going sailing ships, and the first public wharves were built in 1825. Individual quarry companies followed, building a series of wharves along the shore almost as far as Borth-y-Gest, and slate was carted from Ffestiniog down to the quays along the Afon Dwyryd, then boated to Porthmadog for transfer to seagoing vessels.
slate, which was transported to the new port by tramway from the quarries in Ffestiniog and Llanfrothen. The Ffestiniog Railway opened in 1836, followed by the Croesor Tramway in 1864 and the Gorseddau Tramway in 1856, and by 1873 over 116,000 tons (117,800 t) were exported through Porthmadog in more than a thousand ships.
A number of shipbuilders were active at this time, and were particularly well known for the three-masted schooners known as Western Ocean Yachts, the last of which was built in 1913
By 1841 the trackway across the reclaimed land had been straightened out and was to be developed as Stryd Fawr, the main commercial street of the town. Along this street were a range of shops and public houses and a post office, with the open green retained. A mineral railway to Tremadog ran along what was to become Heol Madog. To the north was an industrial area where foundries, timber saw mills, slate works, a flour mill, soda-pop plant and gasworks were constructed.
Porthmadog's role as a commercial port, already reduced by the opening of the Aberystwyth and Welsh Coast Railway in 1867, was effectively ended by the First World War, when the lucrative German market for slate disappeared. The 19th century wharves still survive, but the slate warehouses have been replaced by holiday apartments, and the harbour is used by leisure yachts.
To the north of the village is Tan-yr-Allt, the property bought by Madocks in 1798 and transformed by him into the first Regency house in Gwynedd. The garden, on a steeply sloping site, consists mainly of lawns planted with trees and shrubs and contains a memorial to Percy Bysshe Shelley.
The War Memorial stands on top of Ynys Galch, one of the former islands reclaimed from Traeth Mawr. In the form of a Celtic cross and standing 16 feet (4.9 m) high, it was fashioned from Trefor granite and unveiled "in memory of ninety-seven fallen war heroes of Madoc Vale" in 1922.
On Moel-y-Gest (cy) is an iron age stone walled hillfort.