Porthgain is a picturesque coastal small village on the north coast of St David's Peninsula between St David's City and Fishguard. It seamlessly blends historical significance with stunning natural beauty. The village, with its rich maritime heritage, has become a popular destination for tourists seeking a glimpse into the past while enjoying the stunning coastal scenery.
Historically, its small harbour was used for exporting stone from the nearby quarry but today, this harbour and the surrounding areas are now a very popular tourist centre. Porthgain boasts a great pub, restaurant and art galleries. Located some 7 miles north of St David's City, it lies on the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park with spectacular cliff and sea vistas.
Just over a century ago, Porthgain hummed with the relentless clang of industry.
Its story begins in the 19th century, lured by the rich seams of slate. Abereiddi and Porthgain quarries became major players, exporting over 40,000 tons annually, contributing significantly to Wales' then-booming slate industry. According to the National Slate Museum, at its peak, Wales accounted for 90% of the world's slate production! Imagine, streets bustling with quarrymen, the rhythmic clatter of chisels echoing off the cliffs, and ships laden with slate setting sail, carving Porthgain's place on the map.
However, by the late 19th century, competition from cheaper materials and changing architectural trends dwindled slate demand. Porthgain, however, refused to fade into obscurity. Like phoenix from the ashes, it reinvented itself as a brickmaking hub, capitalising on the local clay deposits. Bricks from Porthgain found their way into the very fabric of London, contributing to the Victorian building boom, as documented in "Bricks and Mortals: The British Brick Industry 1780-1914" by Brian Hollingworth.
By the 1930s, even brickmaking faltered. Yet, Porthgain persevered, turning to its rugged coastline for a new lease on life. Granite quarrying became the next chapter, with crushed stone shipped out to build Britain's roads, contributing to the 1930s infrastructure boom highlighted in the National Infrastructure Plan.
Today, Porthgain's industrial past stands as a silent monument, its towering brick hoppers and rusting machinery a testament to its resilience. The quaint cottages, once housing quarrymen, now welcome tourists seeking breathtaking coastal walks and secluded coves. The harbour, once filled with industrial barges, now cradles bobbing kayaks and paddleboards.
From bustling slate port to brick powerhouse, and finally, a tranquil seaside retreat, Porthgain's journey reflects the ebb and flow of Welsh industry. It stands as a reminder that even in the face of adversity, communities can adapt, reinvent, and forge new paths, leaving behind a legacy etched in stone and whispering in the wind.
So, if you find yourself on the Pembrokeshire coast, Porthgain is definitely worth a visit - it is one of our top Pembrokeshire Favourites!. Breathe in the salty air, soak in the stunning scenery, and let the ghosts of its industrial past whisper their tales of grit, transformation, and ultimately, enduring charm.
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