Penmaenpool Toll Bridge is a Grade II listed, a wooden bridge which is Cadw-registered.
Built in 1879, the bridge holds a sad history with the loss of fifteen lives (including four children) on 22 July 1966 when the Prince of Wales ferry hit the toll bridge. 39 people had been taking a pleasure trip on the ferry from Barmouth to the George III Hotel in the hamlet. The hotel owner, John Hall, his chef (David Jones) and barman (Bob Jones) saved many lives that day, without their hard work, many more would have drowned.
Crossing the toll bridge from Penmaenpool makes it a short walk to the RSPB bird reserve at Coed Garth Gell and the facilities at Taicynhaeaf.
TOLL PRICES (as at August 2012) :
Motor Homes - 60p
Cars/Motorbikes - 60p
Caravans - 60p
Bicycles - 25p
Pedestrians - 20p
Trailers - 20p
The toll bridge opens from 08:30 to 18:30 (10:00 on Sundays).
Well, we didn't look inside the signal box - it looked like a man was working up there, and we were in need of a cold drink.
The Railway station closed on 18th January 1965, but some features remain such as signals and this signal box, which has been used by the RSPB as an observation and information centre.
Apparently binoculars are available for visitors to use.
The Penmaenpool Wildlife Centre is owned by the Snowdonia National Park Authority and administered by the RSPB.
Penmaenpool is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The estuary and mud flats attract a variety of birds and water fowl, It is an important breeding centre for birds, including redshank and mergansers
Oystercatchers, herons and different breeds of ducks can be seen here.
A noticeboard in the car park has some information about the wild life of the area.
The nearby woodland and mountains offer further opportunities for bird watching.
This attractive wooden toll bridge crosses the Mawddach Estuary, linking the Linking the A493 and A496, and for 60p (August 2012) Cars/motorhomes/motorcycles can drive across, which cuts about 4 miles off of the drive between Barmouth and Dolgellau. 2.5 tonnes limit.
Foot passengers and cyclists pay 20 pence.
The gates open at 08.30 (10.00 on Sundays) and are closed at 18.30 each evening (Pic 2). Out of these hours, I understand that the crossing is at Dolgellau.
The toll is collected by a member of staff at the Penmaenpool side of the bridge- correct change appreciated!
Vicki and I were looking at the toll booth when a car approached from the Barmouth side. The driver drove past the woman waiting to collect his toll, and proceeded to offer his coins to Vicki, much to our amusement, and the bafflement of the woman. Could have been a nice little earner! (pic 5)
I quite enjoyed driving across the rickety wooden 'road' to and from Barmouth, but missed admiring the scenery. On our way back to Dolgellau, we parked in the free car park, so that we could take some photos of the bridge.
Built by the Penmaenpool Bridge Company in 1879, the bridge replaced the local ferry service. The central part of the bridge was designed to be raised to allow ships travelling between the aforementioned towns, to pass under. As far as I'm aware, this hasn't been utilised.
I'm not sure who owns the bridge now - The Penmaenpool Toll Bridge Company Limited was founded on the 6th March 1997, but appears to have been dissolved. I think it's under private ownership.
The Bridge and Toll Booths are Grade 11 and Cadw listed. This and the other timber trestle railway/foot bridge at Barmouth are unusual surviving wooden bridges-most having been replaced by masonry structures.
On July 22nd 1966, Fifteen people lost their lives here. The 'Prince of Wales' Ferry had set off from Barmouth with 39 people on board. The ferry usually stopped near the toll bridge, so that the passengers could enjoy refreshments at The George 111.
The boat crashed into the bridge, causing all on board to fall into the water. The strong incoming tide swept bodies away upstream.
Despite the brave efforts of staff from the hotel, the Toll Bridge owner and manager, and others, fifteen people, including four children perished.
The boats skipper later pleaded guilty to overloading the ferry - it was licenced to carry 36 passengers plus the captain, but no prosecution was brought.
None of the rescuers received bravery awards!
A remembrance service was held here in 2006 to mark the 40th anniversary of the disaster.
Set on the banks of the Mawddach Estuary, the George III Hotel is an historic building which once served the boat building industry. Constructed in 1650, it now forms a hotel with eleven en-suite bedrooms, a 50-seat restaurant and two bars.
Located at the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, outdoor seating areas provide guests with the beautiful views whilst enjoying drinks, lunch or dinner.
The ground floor bar has a dark-wood interior with natural stone walls.
On busy, sunny afternoons in summer, service can be a little slow as staff struggle to cope with an influx of visitors to the bar.
Favorite Dish: Having had lunch in Barmouth, we were not ready to eat at Penmaenpool but did enjoy a great round of drinks in the outdoor seating area on the ground floor. However, the meals being served all appeared to be good portions and freshly prepared.
After an afternoon exploring Barmouth, we stopped in Penmaenpool on our way back to Dolgellau, via the Toll Bridge, mainly to take photo's of the historical bridge, but could hear a cold drink calling us from the bar of this hotel!
I didn't get to see much of the bar, as I'd left my bag in my car as I thought this was a quick 'Look-See' So while Gilly, Alyson and Vicki ordered drinks, I headed back to the nearby free car park. I don't therefore know what the service was like, but I returned from the car park, and they'd only just been served. Apparently in the bars and hotel are old photos of Penmaenpool station.
The two bars are open to non-residents. The Dresser Bar, is the main bar. We sat outside The Cellar Bar, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. Families and friends occupied the picnic table/benches enjoying drinks and meals. We just settled for drinks, as we were heading back to our campsite for a BBQ and camp fire food. The portions of food being ferried to the diners looked to be of a good size.
I was driving, so enjoyed a non-alcoholic ginger ale, with a splash of lime juice. Otherwise, I'd have tried one of the local cask ales.
The building dates back to 1650, It was originally two buildings - a pub and a ships chandlers'. They were constructed to serve the boat building industry, that developed here in the estuary. The boats hull was constructed here, then the sails and rigging were added at Barmouth.
Between 1750 and 1865, 318 vessels were constructed and launched.
This lucrative industry arose through the increasing trade of slate, copper, lead and manganese, which was ferried through the estuary to Barmouth, where it was loaded onto ships and transported overseas.
Goods such as flour, dried beans and timber, were imported into Barmouth, then distributed to a trading centre on the estuary, from where it was transported to Dolgellau and nearby areas.
The arrival of the railways meant a severe decline in boat building
When the rail arrived in 1876, Penmaenpool became a station. The main part being where the car park is now. The two buildings had been combined to form a hotel.
The railway was closed in 1965 (along with many other Beeching casualities)
The hotel purchased the waiting room, ticket office and the station master's house, and formed an annexe - The Lodge in 1977
Old signs such as 'Platform 1' and Left Luggage are reminders of its former existence.
I can't comment on the service, as I didn't witness this, nor the price as I wasn't allowed to pay - Cheers Gilly!
As it's the only restaurant in Penmaenpool - I can't compare it to others!!
Favorite Dish: My ginger ale was cold and hit the spot!
The Mawddach Estuary area offers many walking opportunities. You can be as energetic or lazy as you want.
I'm afraid that we just had a few short strolls - around Barmouth and from the car park at Penmaen to the George 111 and back!
Here are links to some walks in the area
Barmouth to Penmaenpool
The Mawddach Way 49km circular walk
Mawddach Trail/ Railway Walk 15km
Walking in Snowdonia
Penmaenpool car park is owned and maintained by the Snowdonia National Park Authority. Surprisingly, this was free!
Its a few metres from the Toll Bridge. In the car park is a signal box, which is a RSPB observation post. Notice boards have useful information and maps for the area.
A493, Penmaenpool, Merioneth, United Kingdom, LL40 1YE