Pwllheli was by far the biggest shipbuilding port on Llyn, with over 400 vessels completed between 1759 and 1878, and ranging in size from the seven ton Flora in 1798 to the magnificent Margaret Pugh at 693 tons in 1862. Many fine books have been written about Pwllheli. We have only put together here some newspaper clippings (Caernarfon & Denbigh Herald) and other material that we have found, just to give you some idea of life in this busy port.

Pwllheli Launch day, April 25 1849.

On Wednesday morning the 25th instant, at half-past 9 a.m., was launched from the building-yard of Mr. John Roberts, ship builder, of this town, a fine low built schooner, of the burther of 140 tons, and of a peculiarly handsome model, to be called the “Joseph Brindley” and commanded by Captain John Ellis, late master of the brig Diligence of this port. The weather being very fine, a very large concourse of persons assembled to witness the proceedings, and, when all preparations were finished and daggers struck, she glided most smoothly and beautifully to her future element amidst the loud plaudits of the spectators. This vessel being a very different style of make to the vessels generally built at this port, has been particularly admired; and pronounced by persons well qualified to form the opinion as likely to turn out a first-rate clipper for sailing qualities, and to add materially to the reputation of the enterprising and persevering young ship builder. After the launch was over, the builder invited the captain and the carpenters employed, 22 in number, to his residence, Picton Castle Cottage, where he regaled them with a most substantial dinner, and a plentiful supply of cwrw da (good beer), which did not fail to produce its usual hilarity, and subsequent proposal of loyal and patriotic toasts, as well as humorous speeches and merry songs, during which the prosperity of the builder, captain, and owners, were not the least conspicuous (C.& D.H. April 28, 1849).


"Building a Schooner"



C & D H, July 25th 1857.

Pwllheli. Shipbuilding seems to be reviving in the improving seaport, there are no less than four fine schooners, averaging about 200 tons each, in course of construction in our different building yards. We observe also the frame of a large ship (probably the barque Woodcock 336 tons, launched in 1859) apparently of about 600 tons, on the stock in the building yard of Messes Jones and Son, Brynhyfryd, which we understand is to be employed in the American timber trade.


She was lost in the Atlantic in 1860.

On a voyage from Bangor to Boston.



"Pwllheli schooner"

Pwllheli Launch.

May 13 1858 Pwllheli. 

On Thursday morning last a fine new schooner, named the "Twelve Apostles", of a beautiful model, partly rigged on the stocks, and decorated with a handsome figure head, was launched from the building yard of Messrs. Hugh Thomas and William Jones, of Morfa, near this town. She glided majestically into her briny element amidst the deafening cheers of the numerous host of spectators attracted to the spot. She is about 220 tons burthen [118 tons in fact], is the sole property of Captain Prichard, of Erw Wen, Penrhos, is to be commanded by Captain Hugh Hughes, of the schooner Jaw, of this port, and is intended for the coasting and foreign trade (C & D H. May 15, 1858)

(The Twelve Apostles Wreck)


"Hugh Pugh"


The Margaret Pugh 1862

The three masted barque "Margaret Pugh" (692 tons register) was the largest vessel ever built at Pwllheli, in 1862. She was registered at Caernarfon (No. 36 November 17, 1862). The managing owner was Hugh Pugh, banker, of  Pwllheli. This Crew Lists cover the period 1863-1864. This extract relates to here maiden voyage from Liverpool to San Francisco and back to Liverpool, which began on January 23, 1863 and ended on April 18, 1864. The engagement was from Liverpool to San Francisco, thence (if required) to any ports and places in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans and China and Eastern Seas, thence to a port for Orders and to the Continent of Europe if required, and back to a port of final discharge in the United Kingdom, the term not to exceed three years'. The crew was to consist of Mate, Carpenter, Boatswain, Sail-maker, Steward and Cook, six Seamen, one Ordinary, and three Apprentices or Boys, no Grog allowed'. The master was Captain William Lloyd Owen of Denbigh, aged 30, but he never went to sea and his replacement was Captain William Williams, aged 38, of Allt Goch, Pwllheli, (formally of Rhiw) who had previously served on the William Carey (Cert. No. 70, 44). He was discharged from the William Carey at London on February 5 and joined the Margaret Pugh at Liverpool on February 6,1863. He remained master of the latter vessel on April 18, 1864 following the completion of the voyage to San Francisco and back. She was sold to French owners (Bourdeaux) in June 1878, and renamed Oceanie, she was destroyed by fire in 1892.


"Pwllheli timber yard"

Pwllheli Launch.

On Tuesday morning last a fine clipper-built vessel of about 250 tons burthen, named the "Empress", was launched from the building yard of Mr. Griffith Evans, Mount-square, at Morfa, near this place. She glided majestically into the briny element amidst the cheers of hundreds of respectable spectators. Miss M. Evans. the builder's daughter performed the christening ceremony. She is to be of brigantine rig, and is to be decorated with a full sized female figure head of exquisite design
manufactured by Mr. David Williams. Traeth. This beautifully modelled vessel is of a superior build, and of the best materials. She is to be commanded by Captain John Jones, late of the brig Don Juan, of Carnarvon, and is intended for the foreign trade. The chief owner. Mr. Richard Jones, timber merchant, Dolgelley, as well as the master and builder, invited their friends and the shipwrights and workmen to drink success to the Empress. We understand that two other vessels, of similar size are to be immediately placed on the stocks in the same yard.


"William Jones timber yard 1890"

A list of all the ships built at Pwllheli between 1759 ~ 1878




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