CONNAH’S QUAY

 

Connah’s Quay (Welsh: Cei Connah) is the largest town in Flintshire, having a population of approximately 23,000 (with Shotton which it is continuous with). The town constitutes just under half of the population of the greater Deeside conurbation for which is part of, near the border with England. It is located 6 miles west of Chester, 4 miles south-east downriver of Flint and just under 10 miles south-east from Holywell. Connah’s Quay can be easily reached by road from the coastal A548 road, by rail from the nearby Shotton railway station located on the North Wales Coast Line, and also is on the National Cycle Network Route 5 as well as the Welsh Coastal Path.

The entrance into Connah's Quay from the western direction [Image taken from https://www.flintshirehousing.co.uk ]
The entrance into Connah’s Quay from the western direction
[Image taken from https://www.flintshirehousing.co.uk ]
The rise of the town coincides with the decline of Chester as a port in the eighteenth century due to the River Dee silting up and ending the port activities of the walled city. Therefore the docks at Connah’s Quay became vital to the transport of trade and finance for Flintshire and Chester, which resulted in the town’s population and wealth to increase considerably. Shipbuilding also became an important trade in the town through its Ferguson shipyard, with the most famous product being the historic ship Kathleen & May (now moored in Liverpool).

Further information can be found here: http://www.qwa.org.uk/305/

The town’s original name was New Quay, but due to confusion with other similarly named places, it was renamed sometime after 1860. The town’s name is of uncertain origin, although here are some common theories where it might have originated from:

  • That Connah was an industrialist and one of the principal founders of the dock in the town
  • From a former landlord of the “Old Quay House”, a public house which is still on the docks in what is now the west side of the town.
  • That Connah was a man who owned a chandlery store on the docks.
  • From a lady called Mary Connah who used to own the dock, and so when people crossed the River Dee from places opposite, such as Parkgate orNeston, they would ask, “Could you take me to Connah’s Quay”.

In conjunction to the port’s increasing importance, Connah’s Quay would also become a major railway town in the nineteenth century. The town was located on the main Chester to Holyhead line, which linked Great Britain with Ireland via the port at Holyhead (which had become the preferred port for Ireland) resulting in goods and passengers coming to and fro from Ireland on a regular basis. In addition, a railyard was established at the dock itself, with its primary rail link to the nearby town of Buckley, which used the dock to transport bricks, clay and pottery products. The dock also had small feeder lines to the connections at Shotton, which would then redirect goods from the dock onwards to Chester and Liverpool on their specific rail lines.

Connah's Quay old train station [Image taken from http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/c/connahs_quay ]
Connah’s Quay old train station
[Image taken from http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/c/connahs_quay ]
Alas the natural phenomenon which helped propel the town’s fortunes also helped in its decline, as by the 1950s the port had virtually ceased trading due to the River Dee silting up the two docks (this would subsequently propel Mostyn to become the major port further down the river on the Flintshire coast). If the port’s demise wasn’t enough, the power of the railways was also on the terminal decline and would have a detrimental effect to the town’s fortunes. Connah’s Quay’s train station would become a victim of the Beeching Cuts of the mid-1960s, and the Connah’s Quay-Buckley rail line was completely pulled up by the 1970s due to the decline of industry in Buckley.

As with many towns in the county, Connah’s Quay has become a commuter town for people working in the Deeside Industrial Zone (which the town is south of, with the zone on the opposite bank of the Dee), Airbus or within Chester itself. However it does have its own gas fired power station, named Connah’s Quay Power Station, to the north of the town, which employs a number of people from the town and produces electricity to the local area.

Coleg Cambria's logo
Coleg Cambria’s logo

In addition to industry, Connah’s Quay is also a centre for further education in the county through the Coleg Cambria complex. Formally known as Kelsterton College and Deeside College, it is a further education and industrial college campus which merged with Yale College in Wrexham to form Coleg Cambria. I am also proud to say I am an alumnus of the college, spending two years there studying – one year on an engineering course, then spending the first year of my apprenticeship there. I may have won some engineering awards during my study there but that’s another story….

The Flintshire Bridge which dominates the Connah's Quay skyline
The Flintshire Bridge which dominates the Connah’s Quay skyline

Finally the skyline of the town is dominated by the imposing Flintshire Bridge. Situated on the outskirts of the town, and located to the east of the power station, it is 118 metres high and was opened in 1998 costing £55 million to construct. The bridge is the largest asymmetric cable-stayed bridge in Britain, and its function is to carry four lanes of the A548 coast road coming from North Wales over the River Dee Estuary towards the Deeside Industrial Zone and beyond.