The Cob

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The Cob
Long shot from above Boston Lodge works
Type Embankment
Status In use
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The Cob is a large embankment[route 1], designed to hold back the sea so that a large area of land could be reclaimed from the Glaslyn estuary. The Ffestiniog Railway runs along the top between Harbour Station and Boston Lodge.


It was built by William Alexander Madocks between 1808 & 1811. He was the Member of Parliament for Boston in Lincolnshire, which is why the FR works is called Boston Lodge. Costing more than £100,000,[1] the project bankrupted him and, when the embankment was breached in 1814, others had to help to repair it. In addition to land reclamation, the Cob was intended as a safe route across Traeth Mawr which would have formed part of a route from England to Porth Dinllaen, an unsuccessful rival to Holyhead for traffic to and from Ireland.

At some point prior to 2000 the following approximate dimensions were stated as 21 feet above sea level, 18 ft wide at the top, 90 ft wide at the base, and from Boston Lodge curve to Britannia Bridge is approximately 1660 yds, or just over 1.5 km

Time line[edit]

  • 1811 Constructed original upper cob as roadway
  • 1836 lower roadway constructed as part of mitigating works for construction of FR
  • 1865 wall between upper and lower cob erected to prevent locos frightening horse traffic
  • 1936-40 repairs and strengthening to seaward side following damage in the 1920s also low parapet built on seaward side

Recent Years[edit]

In 2002 the road was widened and a cycleway/footpath installed on the landward side, this forming an important part of the national cycle route, Lôn Las Cymru.

For much of its existence a toll was levied on traffic crossing the Cob. This was ended in March 2003.[2]

In 2012, work commenced to widen 260 metres of the Cob on the seaward side at the Porthmadog end to enable construction of a new island platform. This will allow FR and WHR trains to occupy the station simultaneously, and also provide a run-round loop for WHR trains, removing the need for a pilot locomotive. The re-worked station layout opened at the beginning of the 2014 operating season.

See Also[edit]


  1. ^ A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Welshmen, Robert Williams, 1852
  2. ^ BBC's History of the Cob