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St Cybi's Church, Church in Wales
Holyhead shown within Anglesey
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Ynys Môn|
|Welsh Assembly||Ynys Môn|
Holyhead (i// HOL-i-hed; Welsh: Caergybi [kɑːɨrˈɡəbi], "Cybi's fort") is the largest town in the county of Isle of Anglesey in Wales. It is also a community and a major Irish Sea port, serving Ireland.
Despite being the largest town in the county, with a population of 11,431 at the 2011 census, it is neither the county town nor actually on the island of Anglesey. Holyhead is located on Holy Island, which has a population of 13,659 at the 2011 census. It was originally connected to Anglesey via Four Mile Bridge, so called because the bridge was four miles (6 km) from Holyhead on the old turnpike Road. In the mid 19th century, Lord Stanley, a local philanthropist, funded the building of a larger causeway, known locally as "The Cobb", it now carries the A5 and the railway line. The A55 dual carriageway runs parallel to the Cobb on a modern causeway.
Prehistoric and Roman history
The town centre is built around St. Cybi's Church, which is built inside one of Europe's few three-walled Roman forts (the fourth boundary being the sea, which used to come up to the fort). The Romans also built a watchtower on the top of Holyhead Mountain inside Mynydd y Twr, a prehistoric hillfort. Settlements in the area date from prehistoric times, with circular huts, burial chambers and standing stones featuring in the highest concentration in Britain. The current lighthouse is on South Stack on the other side of Holyhead Mountain and is open to the public.
The Port of Holyhead has a busy ferry port. Stena Line, Northern Europe's biggest ferry company, operates from the port, as do Irish Ferries. Ferries sail to Dublin, with a limited once a day sailing to Dún Laoghaire in Ireland; this forms the principal link for surface transport from central and northern England and Wales to Ireland.
There is archaeological evidence that people have been sailing between Holyhead and Ireland for 4,000 years. Holyhead's maritime importance was at its height in the 19th century with a 1.7 mile (3 km) long sea breakwater. Holyhead Breakwater is the longest in the UK and was built to create a safe harbour for vessels caught in stormy waters on their way to Liverpool and the industrial ports of Lancashire. Holyhead's sea heritage is remembered in a maritime museum.
The post road built by Thomas Telford from London strengthened Holyhead's position as the port from which the Royal Mail was dispatched to and from Dublin on the Mail coach. The A5 terminates at Admiralty Arch (1822–24), which was designed by Thomas Harrison to commemorate a visit by King George IV in 1821 en route to Ireland and marks the zenith of Irish Mail coach operations.
In 2001, work was completed on the extension of the A55 North Wales Expressway from the Britannia Bridge to Holyhead, giving the town a dual carriageway connection to North Wales and the main British motorway network. The A55 forms part of Euroroute E22 and was funded in the main by money from the European Union. The Anglesey section was financed through a Private Finance Initiative scheme.
With the opening of the railway from London to Liverpool, Holyhead lost the London to Dublin Mail contract in 1839 to the Port of Liverpool. Only after the completion of the Chester and Holyhead Railway in 1850 and the building of Holyhead railway station did the Irish Mail return to Holyhead, operated from London Euston by the London and North Western Railway.
Holyhead is the terminus of the North Wales Coast Line and is currently served by Virgin Trains and Arriva Trains Wales services. Virgin Trains run direct trains to London Euston and Arriva Trains Wales operate direct trains to Chester. The rail and ferry terminals are connected (for pedestrians and cyclists) to the town centre by The Celtic Gateway bridge.
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Holyhead's main industry was aluminium-based until September 2009, with Rio Tinto Group's Anglesey Aluminium subsidiary operating a massive aluminium smelter on the outskirts of the town, including a plant that refined bauxite. A large jetty in the harbour received ships from Jamaica and Australia, and their cargoes of bauxite and aluminium ores were transported on a cable belt rope driven conveyor belt that runs underneath the town to the plant. The jetty is now used by Anglesey County Council to dock cruise ships visiting from all over the world. The jetty is wide enough for coaches to travel down to collect and deliver passengers to the town and on local tours. The plant relied for its electricity supply on the island's nuclear power station at Wylfa, near Cemaes Bay. However, Wylfa is reaching the end of its life and has permission to generate only into 2012, and the ending of a low-cost electricity supply contract in 2009 impacted on the financial viability of the smelting plant. Continuing operations involve the remelting of aluminium scrap for re-use. The site is subject to proposals by a development company called Lateral Power.
Holyhead Port is a major employer, most of the jobs being linked to ferry services to the Republic of Ireland operated by Stena and Irish Ferries. Other significant industrial/transport sector employers in Holyhead include Holyhead Boatyard, Gwynedd Shipping, and Eaton Electrical, with the last of these having seen many job losses in 2009. New retail developments in recent years have been a major source of new job creation.
Like the rest of the British Isles and Wales, Holyhead has a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters, and often high winds exacerbated by its location by the Irish Sea. The nearest official weather observation station is at RAF Valley, about 5 miles South East of the town centre.
|Climate data for Valley 10m asl, 1981–2010|
|Average high °C (°F)||8.2
|Average low °C (°F)||3.6
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||75.5
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||62.3||86.5||123.1||177.8||231.8||207.8||201.1||189.5||146.7||109.7||63.6||51.6||1,651.4|
- David Crystal, linguist and chair of the charity behind Holyhead's arts centre, the Ucheldre Centre, lives in Holyhead
- Francis Dodd, artist, born in the town in 1874
- John Fox-Russell (1893–1917), winner of the Victoria Cross, was born in the town.
- Dawn French, comedian and actor, born in the town in 1957
- Glenys Kinnock, politician, was educated at Holyhead High School
- Tony Roberts, Welsh international footballer, born in the town in 1969
- Alex Lynch, professional footballer who currently plays as goalkeeper for Wycombe Wanderers, represented Wales U-17 5 times, educated in Holyhead High School, from the town and born in 1995
- Captain John Macgregor Skinner, son of Brigadier General Cortlandt Skinner, an American Loyalist during the American Revolutionary War who moved to Holyhead in 1793 and was a master on packet ships between Holyhead and Dublin from 1799 until 1832, when he was washed overboard. The town erected an obelisk in his honour, and his house is an exhibit at the Holyhead Maritime Museum. 
- Raymond Sweetman, bass guitarist, born in the town in 1948
- R.S. Thomas, poet, grew up in Holyhead
- Ray Williams, weightlifting Commonwealth Games gold medallist, born in the town in 1959
- Gareth Evans, London Olympics 2012, lives in the town.
- Gareth Williams, employee of Britain's GCHQ signals intelligence agency
Culture and sport
Holyhead's arts centre, the Ucheldre Centre, is located in the chapel of an old convent belonging to the order of the Bon Sauveur. It holds regular arts exhibitions, performances, workshops and film screenings. The Holyhead Maritime Museum is housed in what is claimed to be Wales's oldest lifeboat house. The lifeboat station was established in 1828.
The town's main football team is called Holyhead Hotspur and they play in the Cymru Alliance , with their reserves playing in the Gwynedd League. There is also Holyhead Gwelfor Athletic who play in the Anglesey League.
Holyhead's cliffs are used for coasteering, a water sport which involves jumping off cliffs at different heights.
Holyhead High School (previously County Secondary school) was the first comprehensive school in the UK.
- "Parish Headcounts: Isle of Anglesey". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
- "Wylfa to continue generating until 2012". Nuclear Engineering International. Retrieved 2011-12-13.
- "Valley 1981–2010 averages". MetOffice. Retrieved 11 Aug 2014.
- Holyhead.com http://www.holyhead.com/captainskinner/index.html Accessed February 15, 2015
- Holyhead Maritime Museum http://www.holyheadmaritimemuseum.co.uk/index.php/exhibits/captain-skinner Accessed February 15, 2015
- "RNLI: Holyhead". Retrieved 16 February 2016.
- "BBC News article on Jedi church in Holyhead". 2008-01-28. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
- Everett, Cliff (23 January 2012). "Twinning Oath Signed". holyheadtowncouncil.com. Holyhead Town Council. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
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