A bit more Wales

After our trip to the Ffestiniog Railway we stopped in at the National Slate Museum and Llanberis Lake Railway, both of which are sited in the old Dinorwig slate quarry.

The old quarry ceased production in 1969, since then a lot of work has been done to preserve the history of the site.  Many inclines still remain, and it’s possible to wander around and look at the lower levels with ease – this is exactly what we did as we didn’t have time to explore too far.  Another trip is definitely warranted to see much more of the site.  David Sallery has some interesting shots of the upper levels here.

The National Slate Museum sits at the bottom of the quarries at Gilfach Ddu, it’s also here that the Llanberis Lake Railway has it’s base of operations and departs in both directions to Llanberis or along Llyn Padarn.

Wild Aster/Thomas Bach at Gilfach Ddu - note the hideous headlamps in the buffer beam, a health and safety 'measure' no doubt.

The museum is free and houses a great collection of artefacts connected to the slate industry.  There are many static exhibits, plus demonstrations of various activities.

Collection of wagons inside the museum

More equipment inside the museum.

The museum has many rooms showing various stages of slate processing and the equipment involved.  One of my favourites was the pattern shop where all sorts of patterns were made for casting equipment for the quarries.  Obviously a lot of this was connected to the railways or mining equipment such as blondins.

Patterns hanging from the wall in the recreated pattern room.

Patterns for all sorts of railway paraphernalia, including a weighbridge, several crossings and frogs.

One of the highlights of the museum is the massive De Winton waterwheel which is in excess of 50′ diameter! A most impressive sight.

De Winton waterwheel

Inside the machine shops there are some hints at the slate processing industry, two particular items caught my eye showing the different and colours of slate and the thicknesses that they could be split into.

All the different sizes slates could be split into.

The colours of the slate could determine what area of the quarry it had come from.

Outside some of the old inclines have bits and pieces on them.  Vivian Incline is the most intact, and has been resorted to work by electricity – sadly it wasn’t in operation when we visited, but then it was a Monday in October!

Slate wagons posed on the restored portion of Vivian incline.

View from the top of Vivian Incline with Llyn Padarn and Llanberis in the distance.

The next stage of the Vivian incline remains unrestored, but gives an idea of the level of preservation at the site.

The place must have been a maze of railways, inclines and aerial ropeways, or blondins, when in full tilt.  There are plenty of the ledges that railways used to run on all around the quarry.

Imagine a quarry Hunslet rocking and rolling along some rough quarry track on this ledge.

The Llanberis Lake Railway runs along the route of the Padarn Railway, a 4' gauge line which was used to transport full slate wagons from around the quarry to be transferred to ships at Port Dinorwig.

The rest of my photos are on flickr here. Hopefully at some point next year I’ll be back to explore some more of the upper levels!

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