Holyhead: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 53°18′36″N 4°37′59″W / 53.310°N 4.633°W / 53.310; -4.633

Welsh: Caergybi
Holyhead is located in Wales2

 Holyhead shown within Wales
Population 13,580 (includes other Holy Island settlements)
OS grid reference SH245825
Principal area Anglesey
Ceremonial county Gwynedd
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town HOLYHEAD
Postcode district LL65
Dialling code 01407
Police North Wales
Fire North Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament Ynys Môn
List of places: UK • Wales • Anglesey

Holyhead (pronounced /ˈhɒlɪhɛd/ ( listen); Welsh: Caergybi "the fort of Saint Cybi") is the largest town in the county of Anglesey in the north west of Wales.

Although it is the largest town in the county, with a population of 11,237 (2001 census), it is neither the county town nor actually on the island of Anglesey. In fact, it is located on Holy Island which is connected to Anglesey by Four Mile Bridge, so called because it is four miles (6 km) from Holyhead on the old post road from London, and a causeway (known locally as "the cob") built by local philanthropist Lord Stanley in the 19th century. The causeway now carries the A5 and the railway line to Chester, Crewe and London. The A55 road runs on a new causeway to the side of the cob.


Prehistoric and Roman history

St Cybi's Church at Holyhead

The town centre is built around St. Cybi's Church, which is built inside one of Europe's only three-walled Roman forts (the fourth wall being the sea, which used to come up to the fort). The Romans also built a watchtower on the top of Holyhead Mountain inside Mynydd y Twr, a prehistoric hillfort. Settlements in the area date from prehistoric times, with circular huts, burial chambers and standing stones featuring in the highest concentration in Britain. The current lighthouse is on South Stack on the other side of Holyhead Mountain and is open to the public. The area is also popular with birdwatchers.


The Port of Holyhead has a busy ferry port handling more than 2 million passengers each year.[1] Stena Line, Europe's biggest ferry company, operates from the port as do Irish Ferries. Ferries sail to Dublin with a limited once a day sailing to Dún Laoghaire in Ireland and this forms the principal link for surface transport from central and northern England and Wales to Ireland. There is archaeological evidence that people have been sailing between Holyhead and Ireland for 4,000 years. Holyhead's maritime importance was at its height in the 19th century when the two and a half mile (4 km) breakwater, widely acknowledged to be one of Britain's finest, was built, creating a safe harbour for vessels caught in stormy waters on their way to Liverpool and the industrial ports of Lancashire. Holyhead's sea heritage is remembered in a maritime museum.

Railway tracks on the outskirts of the town.
A panoramic view of Holyhead taken from atop Holyhead Mountain, showing the harbour's breakwater on the left

The post road built by Thomas Telford from London strengthened Holyhead's position as the port from which the Royal Mail was dispatched to and from Dublin on the Mail coach. The A5 terminates at Admiralty Arch (1821), which was designed by Thomas Harrison to commemorate a visit by King George IV en route to Ireland and marks the zenith of Irish Mail coach operations. In 2001, work was completed on the extension of the A55 North Wales Expressway from the Britannia Bridge to Holyhead, giving the town a dual carriageway connection to North Wales and the main British motorway network. The A55 forms part of Euroroute E22 and was funded in the main by money from the European Union. The Anglesey section was financed through a Private Finance Initiative scheme.

With the opening of the railway from London to Liverpool, Holyhead lost the London to Dublin Mail contract in 1839 to the Port of Liverpool. Only after the completion of the Chester and Holyhead Railway in 1850 and the building of Holyhead railway station did the Irish Mail return to Holyhead. Holyhead is currently the terminus of the North Wales Coast Line and is served by Virgin Trains and Arriva Trains Wales services.


Today, Holyhead's main industry is aluminium-based, with Rio Tinto Group's Anglesey Aluminium subsidiary operating a massive aluminium smelter on the outskirts of the town. There is also a plant that refines bauxite near the site. A large jetty in the harbour receives ships from Jamaica and Australia, and their cargoes of bauxite and aluminium ores are transported on a cable belt rope driven conveyor belt that runs underneath the town to the plant.

The plant relies on its electricity supply from the island's nuclear power station at Wylfa, near Cemaes Bay. As this power station is due to close in 2010, there is speculation that the financial viability of the plant is at risk.

Famous people

Culture and sport

Holyhead hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1927. Holyhead is the start and finish point of the Anglesey Coastal Path.

Holyhead's arts centre, the Ucheldre Centre, is located in the chapel of an old convent belonging to the order of the Bon Sauveur. It holds regular arts exhibitions, performances, workshops and film screenings.

According to the United Kingdom Census 2001, 47% of the residents in the town can speak Welsh. The highest percentage of speakers is the 15 year old age group, where 66% can speak the language.

The town's main football team is called Holyhead Hotspur and they play in the Cymru Alliance [1], with their reserves playing in the Gwynedd League. There is also Holyhead Gwelfor Athletic who play in the Anglesey League.

Holyhead is also home to one of the first churches of the Jedi Religion, founded by brothers Daniel and Barney Jones early in 2008[2].

Holyhead's breakwater is also the longest in Europe.

Holyhead High school (previously County Secondary school) was the first comprehensive school in the UK.

Use in popular culture

Holyhead is the home of a professional Quidditch team operating within the fictional Harry Potter universe. The Holyhead Harpies are one of only thirteen Quidditch teams that play in the professional Quidditch League of Britain and Ireland that was established in 1674. The team players wear dark green robes emblazoned with a golden talon across the chest. They are unique in that only witches have played for this all-female team.[3]


External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Holyhead [1] is a small port town in north-west Wales, with high-speed ferries to the Dublin area.

  • Irish Ferries [2] sail from Dublin.
  • Stena Line [3] sails from Dún Laoghaire (Co. Dublin) (about 8 km south of Dublin city centre).
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HOLYHEAD (Caergybi, the fort of Cybi, the saint mentioned by Matthew Arnold as meeting St Seiriol of Penmon, Anglesey), a seaport and market-town of Anglesey, N. Wales, situated on the small Holy Island, at the western end of the county. Pop. of urban district (1901) 10,079. Here the London and NorthWestern railway has a terminus, 2631 m. from London by rail. Holy Island is connected with Anglesey by an embankment, m. long, over which pass the railway and main road, the tide flowing fast under the central piers. Once a small fishing village, the town has since William IV.'s reign acquired importance as the Dublin mail steam station. Its magnificent harbour of refuge was begun in 1847 and opened in September 1873. The east breakwater scheme, which would have covered the Platter's rocks - still very troublesome - and the Skinner's, was abandoned for buoys which mark the spots. The north breakwater is 7860 ft. long (instead of 5360, as originally planned). 'The roadstead (400 acres) and enclosed area (267 acres) together make a magnificent - shelter for shipping. 'The rubble mound of the breakwater' was very, tostly'to the railway company, as time after time it was swept away by storms. On it is a central wall of some 38 ft. above low water, and on the wall a promenade sheltered by a parapet. The lighthouse is at the end of the breakwater, of which the whole cost was nearly 12 million sterling. Additional works, begun in 1873 by the company, to extend the old harbour and lengthen the quay by 4000 ft., were opened by King Edward VII. (as prince of Wales) in 1880. These cost another half million. George IV. passed through Holyhead in 1821 on his way to Ireland, and there is a commemorative tablet on the old harbour pier. The church is said to occupy the site of the old monastery (6th or early 7th century) of St Cybi, of whom there is a rude figure in the porch. The churchyard wall, 6 ft. thick, is possibly partly Roman. On the south of the harbour is an obelisk in memory of Captain Skinner, of the steam packets, washed overboard in 1833. Pen Caergybi rises perpendicularly from the sea to the height of 719 ft., at some 2 m. from the town; it is a mass of serpentine rocks, off which lie the North and South Stacks, each with a lighthouse with a revolving light, visible for 20 m., and 197 ft. above high water on the South Stack. On the hill are traces of British fortification, including a circular building, probably a Roman watch-tower. Coasting trade and fishing, with some shipbuilding and the Irish traffic, occupy most of the inhabitants.

See Hon. W. Stanley's Holy Island and Holyhead.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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Proper noun




  1. A town on the island of Angelsey, Wales


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