Fort Belan

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Fort Belan
Fort Belan.jpg
Fort Belan is located in Gwynedd
Fort Belan
Location within Gwynedd
General information
LocationDinlle Peninsula, Llanwnda
Town or cityGwynedd
Coordinates53°07′21″N 4°19′58″W / 53.12239°N 4.33269°W / 53.12239; -4.33269
Design and construction
ArchitectThomas Wynn, 1st Baron Newborough

Fort Belan (alternative: Belan Fort; pronounced: Bell-ann)[1] is a coastal fortress in North Wales. It is located opposite Abermenai Point, at the south-western end of the Menai Strait, on the coast of Gwynedd, in the parish of Llanwnda. Situated at the tip of the Dinlle Peninsula, the windblown, north-westernmost point of the Welsh mainland, the fort is cut off twice a day by the incoming tide.[1] Of geographic importance because of its location, Fort Belan is an access point to both the north Wales coast and to Liverpool, England.


The fort was built in 1775 for a reported cost of £30,000[2][3] (equivalent to £3.5 million in 2016),[4] by Thomas Wynn, then MP for Caernarfonshire and later to become Lord Newborough. He was worried about the vulnerability of Britain's coastline to attack, particularly because of the ongoing American War of Independence. Fort Belan was the only purpose-built fort of the American Revolution on the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean.[5] It guards a narrow passage of 35 m (115 ft) width.[6]

Cannons firing.

In the late 1780s, the barracks were used to ward off raiding American privateers from the Irish Sea. But despite its military history, "no shots have been fired in anger from the fort". In the 1820s, the Wynn family turned it into a private fort for themselves, adding a small harbour for Spencer Wynn's steam yacht. Major construction works took place between 1824 and 1826.[7] The watchtower was built in the 1890s by Freddie Wynn, and it housed a telescope.[8]

In 1907, Sir Ralph Frankland-Payne-Gallwey described seeing a dock, workshops for repairing vessels, marine storehouses, winches, and cranes.[2] During World War II, the fort was again used for military purposes as the base for the Home Guard and two rescue launches. In the 1950s it was owned by Colonel Robert Vaughan Wynn.[9] The Wynn family sold the property in 1992 to the Blundells as a base for marine biology exploration.[5][8] In 1996 the fort was reclassified as a Grade I listed building.[5][10]


Fort Belan

The fort's innermost buildings are slightly taller than the 20-foot (6.1 m) stone walls. In the centre of the fort is a sheltered quadrangle; at one time, there were peacocks there. Fortified towers are located at either end of the courtyard. Each of the towers displays the two-headed eagle of the first Lord Newborough. Small two-storey houses that were used as officer and privates' quarters line the flanks,[1] commodious barracks for the Caernarvonshire county militia.[11] Approximately 24 cannons form a gun battery along the walls. One of the inner corridors is said to be the haunt of a phantom nursemaid.[1]

Present use[edit]

Fort Belan formerly housed a maritime museum and a pottery.[12] It has been re-purposed as a self-catering holiday complex. The houses have been given a farmhouse feel and coal fires keep them warm. Notable overnight guests include Princess Margaret for the investiture of Prince Charles in 1969.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Middleton, Christopher (5 Mar 2001). "Wales: Fortified by silence". The Daily Telegraph. London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  2. ^ a b Bindoff, Stanley T.; Roskell, John S.; Namier, Lewis (1982). The House of Commons: 1509–1558; 3, Members N - Z. 4. Boydell & Brewer. p. 671. ISBN 0-436-30420-1.
  3. ^ Headley, Gwyn; Meulenkamp, Wim (1986). Follies: A National Trust Guide. Cape. ISBN 0-224-02105-2.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ United Kingdom Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth "consistent series" supplied in Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2018). "What Was the U.K. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "A Short History of Fort Belan". Archived from the original on 17 October 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  6. ^ "'FORT' BELAN?". Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  7. ^ "Fort Belan Dockyard, Llandwrog". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  8. ^ a b "Friends' bid to restore Fort Belan watchtower". BBC. 17 June 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  9. ^ Shaw, H. R. (1951). Country heritage: the stately homes of the north west counties and north Wales. Liverpool Daily Post and Echo limited.
  10. ^ Cadw. "Fort Belan  (Grade I) (3810)". National Historic Assets of Wales. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  11. ^ Lewis, Samuel (1833). A topographical dictionary of Wales: comprising the several counties, cities, boroughs, corporate and market towns, parishes, chapelries, and townships, with historical and statistical descriptions : illustrated by maps of the different counties ; and a map of Wales, shewing the principal towns, roads, railways, navigable rivers, and canals ; and embellished with engravings of the arms of the cities, bishopricks, corporate towns, and boroughs ; and of the seals of the several municipal corporations ; with an appendix describing the electoral boundaries of the several boroughs, as defined by the late act. 2. Lewis and Co.
  12. ^ Petersen, Duncan; Joyce Huber, Jon Huber (2000). Britain on Backroads. On Backroads Series. Hunter Publishing, Inc. p. 214. ISBN 1-55650-895-6.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°07′21″N 4°19′58″W / 53.12239°N 4.33269°W / 53.12239; -4.33269