Point of Ayr (Welsh: Y Parlwr Du) is the northernmost point of mainland Wales. It is situated immediately to the north of Talacre in Flintshire, at the mouth of the Dee estuary. It is to the Southwest of the Liverpool Bay area of the Irish Sea. It is the site of a RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) nature reserve, and is part of Gronant and Talacre Dunes Site of Special Scientific Interest.
For many years a colliery operated at Point of Ayr and it was one of the last remaining operational deep mines in Wales. The first trial borings took place in 1865, under the direction of Lord Mostyn, owner of Mostyn Colliery, a few miles away. The borings seemed successful, and the Prestatyn Coal Company was formed to commence operations proper, however the project was abandoned before it got off the ground. In 1873, the site was investigated a second time, by a newly formed company, the Western Mostyn Colliery Company, however the trial shaft was not successful, and the project was again abandoned.
In 1883, a third company was formed, the Point of Ayr Colliery Company, and in 1890 they struck a seam. Coal at this time was brought to the surface by a team of 75 pit ponies. A second shaft was also sunk around this time. According to the Inspector of Mines records, in 1896 the pit employed 356 men producing coal for domestic and industrial uses. A third shaft was sunk sometime after the National Coal Board took over the site following nationalisation in 1947. The coal field extended Northwards under the Irish Sea. By 1953, 738 men were producing 213,000 tons of coal annually. Point of Ayr colliery closed in August 1996. Nothing now remains of the colliery – not even a memorial plaque.
Point of Ayr is also the point where natural gas from the Celtic gas-fields comes ashore and is processed and sweetened at a nearby plant. Gas is piped through a pipeline 33.5km long from the Douglas Complex of gas and oil drilling platforms in the Irish sea. The processing plant is part of BHP Billiton Petroleum’s development of the Liverpool Bay area. After processing, the gas is sold to Powergen, for their combined cycle gas turbine power station at Connah’s Quay, on Deeside, in Flintshire.
Point of Ayr also gives it’s name to a lighthouse, built in 1776, though inactive since 1844. It stands on Talacre beach, at the entrance to the River Dee estuary. The lighthouse once displayed two lights. The main beam, at 63 feet, shone seaward towards Llandudno. A secondary beam shone up the River Dee, towards the hamlet of Dawpool, in Cheshire, on the English side of the estuary. Whilst in service, the lighthouse was painted with red and white stripes, and had a red lantern housing. It was replaced in 1844 with a metal pile lighthouse, bearing a white light, put up by order of the Corporation of Trinity House. This new structure was itself replaced in 1883 with a lightship.