From 1283 Edward I’s castle and town became a focus for trade and communications.
Initially it was the favoured port for Ireland; local boats imported grain and fish and took visiting magistrates to Dublin. The earliest quay was between the Liverpool Arms pub and the protective spur-wall. Ships beached near a dock wall here, where goods and travellers were loaded and processed.
The twin-towered Porth Isaf gate allowed quick access to the security of the town. Over the following centuries, Conwy settled into its role as a small regional port, surviving as a town of inns, mariners and fishermen. It was only in 1833 that a substantial stone quay, costing £1300, was constructed by Conwy Corporation to take full advantage of Telford’s new bridge.
At its busiest, the Quay saw minerals mined in Snowdonia transferred from river-craft onto larger vessels for seaward transport to industrial centres. Imports of timber, grain and potatoes also kept the quayside bustling, employing many Conwy “Jackdaws” (people born within the town walls, just like jackdaws are!).
Inshore fishing thrived, from “nobby” boats built at Crossfield’s boatyard beyond the spur wall. Prawns were a speciality catch; 40 nobbys fished Conwy Bay earlier last century; now just “Falcon” remains. Until the 1960’s a fleet of twelve 50-foot trawlers worked from Conwy.
Today, Conwy Quay is both a working harbour and a popular tourist destination. Both working fishing boats and leisure boats are anchored alongside the quay. Regular boat trips sail from the harbour jetty along the estuary of the River Conwy. Conwy mussels have been brought ashore at Conwy Quay for hundreds of years and the Conwy Mussel Museum and mussel purification plant sits on the quayside.