North Stack Fog Station from Holyhead Mountain
Photo : Tim Snow

North Stack Fog Station

North Stack (Welsh: Ynys Arw, meaning “rugged island”) is a small island situated just off Holy Island on the north-west coast of Anglesey

Accommodation block used for fog house keepers and their families at North Stack on Anglesey

North Stack is the site of a maritime retired fog warning station. Built in 1857 for Trinity House as the headland at North Stack and the Island of South Stack (Ynys Lawd) protruded out and was so dangerous.

The accommodation block, built as two separate dwellings, was home to the fog-house keepers and their families.

There are several buildings on the site including the Trinity House Magazine hut which housed the shells for the warning canon were stored.

The Fog Warning System

The fog horn from North Stack fog station on Anglesey

The first fog warning station at North Stack was around 1780 and used a bell.

Then in 1857, it was taken over by Trinity House, it had two long cannons which were used to blast off in foggy conditions. The original building that was built to store the charges for the original signal cannons still remains, with the inscription “1861 Magazine” still above the door.

In the late 19th century the cannon were replaced by Tannoy Triple Frequency electric foghorn which would of sounded a chord ( three frequencies sounded together were sounded) out to sea. They were quite powerful and loud, and could go as far as 6 nautical miles. North Stack had 35 tannoys. The siren has lain silent since 1986, when it was in turn superseded by a new facility at the nearby South Stack lighthouse. Mains electricity was brought to the site in the 1950’s.

When the fog station at North Stack on Anglesey was decommissioned the actual for horn was thrown over the cliff, but divers later recovered it from the sea below. Both the bell and cannon were eventually replaced by a fog siren - an oil engine powered reed horn fog siren in 1895.

One of the recovered fog horns is now on display in the Breakwater country park.

For the past 23 years, however, it has been home and studio to artist Philippa Jacobs and is currently up for sale. The remote property can only be reached on foot or by 4×4 via a 1.3-mile-long unmade track over the north-eastern slopes of Holyhead Mountain.

American B24 Bomber Crash at North Stack

Memorial Stone to American B24 plane crash at North Stack

On December 22 in 1944, an American B24 J Bomber Crashed into the sea near to North Stack. The B24 bomber from the American USAAF 36th Bomber Squadron was flying in dense fog, en route to refuel at nearby RAF Valley, the crew believed that they were flying over land when they crashed into the sea close to North Stack.

In this tragic air accident, only two survived, the pilot, Lt H.Boehm and his co pilot D.Burch. The pilot gave the order to bail out, but the remaining 8 American aircrew lost their lives at sea and were never found.

There is a memorial plaque in the nearby Breakwater Country Park on part of one of the B 24 J Bomber’s propellers that was recovered by local divers. The plaque names the eight american aircrew as missing. Their bodies were never recovered.

Divers report that the ill fated american B24 J bomber still lies in the sea near North Stack at a depth of 10 to 20 metres (depending on the state of the tide).

Rock climbing at North Stack on Anglesey

Rock Climbing at North Stack

The cliffs at North Stack and South Stack offer some of the finest rock climbing in the area. The area along here is known as Gogarth and the rock is Quartzite.

The North Stack Wall has no fewer than 28 different climbing routes ranging from a difficulty level of 4c through to the harder 6b***.

For information on local rock climbs, their difficulty rating and how to access them have a look at here

The Grid Reference for North Stack fog station is: SH 21468 83938; 53.32216°N, 4.68193°W