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