Nestled in a small valley at Wales’ most northerly point are the Llanlleiana old porcelain works. Although the ruined Victorian porcelain works site will be familiar to anyone who has walked the Anglesey Coastal Path between Cemaes and Bull Bay, this quiet slice of history remains one of the country’s best-kept secrets.
Despite falling into ruin over the last century, the dilapidated walls and matching chimneys serve as a reminder of a different time when industrial processes were often carried out in the tiniest pockets of the British Isles. The fact that this place is so difficult to access simply adds to the allure.
So, before elaborating on how you might reach Llaneina old porcelain works, let’s give you a little more background to this fascinating building.
Llanlleina Porcelain Works: A Brief History
Constructed in the middle of the 19th century, the Porth Llanlleiana beach-based works produced porcelain from deposits of China clay found on Dinas Gynfor in nearby Llanbadrig, which was subsequently designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1957 in order to protect its geological elements.
Concerning the name, Llanlleiana roughly translates to”church of the nuns,” which is rather fitting since the works were built on the site of a former convent. For a period leading up to the First World War, the site was known as Llanleiana Camp and was used by the Boy Scouts.
The site consists of the main building, which used to boast over a dozen large glass windows (click here to view pictures of the works in their heyday). Behind it, you can still see the detached chimney designed to direct the noxious fumes away from the principal working areas and induce air currents through the factory’s boilers and furnaces. The good news is that the chimney remains largely intact.
Aside from the main building and chimney, there remains the protective sea wall constructed to shield the works from storm surges and a lookout tower built to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII at the top of Llanlleiana Head.
While the works spent much of their existence dedicated to porcelain production, work was abruptly halted when a fire broke out at the factory in 1920. Unfortunately, the damage was too much to overcome, and the works never reopened. The works have slowly faded into ruin every since and leave us with a relic of a bygone era.
Why Visit Llanlleiana Porcelain Works?
While it’s unlikely that you will want to venture out purely to pay a visit to these works, they do make an excellent pit-stop as you make your way along the coast path. While smaller than the nearby Porth Wen brickworks, the site lacks no less majesty, and it’s certainly worth taking a few photos to add to your Instagram collection.
There are now picnic benches on the site, making it an excellent place to call for lunch. You can sit there listening to the waves as you munch on your sandwiches and imagine what it was like to be a worker, scurrying from one side of the valley with a wheelbarrow full of China clay to the works on the other side with the furnaces blasting away.
Porth Llanlleiana beach is also worth a mention. While it’s a certainly not in the same bracket as secluded sandy beaches such as Silver Bay, you can still enjoy its secluded nature and pause to watch the waves crash against the dramatic coastline.
Getting to Llanleiana Porcelain Works
Since the site is only accessible on foot, you’ll be parking a sizeable distance away. Many visitors chose the option of parking at Cemaes Bay and making their way over the steep and testing ups and downs of the coast path.
If you don’t fancy walking quite that far or that strenuously, there are some very unofficial places to park on the A5025 (the main road that goes from Cemaes to Bull Bay), and you can make your way down the country lanes and footpaths from there.
However, perhaps the best way to experience the works is by working your way from Cemaes to Bull Bay (or vice versa) and catching the bus back from the end of your walk back to your car. That way, you will also have the pleasure of taking in the Porth Wen brickworks in addition to Llanleiana’s porcelain works.
Other Considerations Before Visting Llanlleiana Old Porcelain Works
As mentioned, access is tricky (to say the least), so those with accessibility needs will, unfortunately, have to miss out on this hidden little gem. Parents with young children will also have to bear those access challenges in mind, too, with no possibility of using a pushchair (it’s a long way to carry them!).
Remember that although the coast path runs adjacent to the works, they are privately owned, and you shouldn’t trespass to go exploring within the works themselves. Today, they are fenced off, and you should respect the boundary that runs around the perimeter of the building. Remember, this is a building that was badly damaged by fire and could be dangerous and/or unstable.
Lastly, although there are picnic tables, there are no other facilities to speak of, so please make sure to take your litter with you if you do happen to stop for a spot of lunch. It can be windy in the valley, and items can easily be blown off your table, so make sure to perform a quick check around to ensure you have everything you came with.