Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Although it is the largest town in the county, with a population of 11,237 (2001 census), it is neither the county town nor actually on the island of Anglesey but is instead located on Holy Island which is connected to Anglesey by Four Mile Bridge , so called because it is four miles from Holyhead on the old post road from London, and a causeway (known locally as "the cob") build by local philanthropist Lord Stanley in the nineteenth century, which now carries the A5/A55 road and the railway line to Chester, Crewe and London.
The town's centre is built around St. Cybi's church, which is built inside one of Europe's only three-walled Roman forts (the fourth wall being the sea, which used to come up to the fort). The Romans also built a lighthouse on the top of Holyhead Mountain inside Mynydd y Twr, a prehistoric fortress. Settlements in the area date from prehistoric times, with circular huts, burial chambers and standing stones featuring in the highest concentration in Britain.
Holyhead is perhaps best known for its busy ferry port and freight harbour. Stena Line, Europe's biggest ferry company, operates from the port. Irish Ferries also operate from Holyhead. Ferries sail to Dublin and Dún Laoghaire in Ireland and 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 4000 years. The post road built by Thomas Telford from London established Holyhead's port, from where the royal mail was dispatched to and from Dublin.
Holyhead's maritime importance was at its paramount in the nineteenth century when the two and a half-mile breakwater, widely acknowledged to be one of Britain's finest, was built, creating 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.
Today, Holyhead's main industry in aluminium-based, with Rio Tinto's Anglesey Aluminium subsidiary operating a massive aluminium smelter on the outskirts of the town. There is also a plant that refines bauxite near the site. A large jetty in the harbour receives ships from Jamaica and Australia, and their cargo of bauxite and aluminium ores are transported on a conveyor belt than runs underneath the town to the plants.
Holyhead is also the home of linguist, David Crystal.
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