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Dinrowic Slate


Most of the Great Little Trains of Wales owe the existance to slate. Many of the engines that run on narrow gauge railways around the country once spent their lives high up in the mountains. Dinorwic (Dinorwig) was one of those slate quarries with numerous levels and miles and miles of track. The levels were serviced by inclines, where the loaded slate wagons pulled up the empty ones.

There are numerous websites related to this subject which cover it far better than I can. Below are a few pictures from our visit.


 

Dinorwic - Slate quarries

Being lazy we drove up to a car park half way up the hill side. There you can walk straight through the middle of the old Dinorwic quarries on the level.

Right - the copper in the water has turned it green. In the background several incline remains can be seen.
One of the old winch houses. This incline has been demolished to put a haul road through, presumably for the construction of the power station below. During the 1970's Dinorwic pumping station was constructed below along with the maze of connecting tunnels and a high level reservoir.
A rock fall leaves a bit of track hanging in mid air. When I came here in 1987 there was still a cable and a bucket (Blodin - welsh name) hanging in the air. This has now been removed, presumably it is the one now on display at the Padarn centre.
A really good example of embankment building using waste slate.
although the track is fenced off access to the other levels is easy. I think the fence is more for liability than restricting those determined to go exploring. The group climbing the incline were talking about tunnels and ladders. Sounded brilliant but Clark had only been walking for a couple of months so not really suitable.
. The remains of numerous levels and inclines. It is quite amazing that a place of such industrial action, employing thousands of men (over 3000 at its peak) now sits in silence. I would recommend further reading especially about the lives of some of the engines and their crews. All the Hunslets on the upper levels were cabless so the drivers could see even in extremes of weather.
I have heard that for every 100 tons of usable slate quarried there were 90 tons of waste. Modern open cast quarries ship up the waste for road making and decorative chippings. There is an on going debate about whether companies should be allowed to reclaim the the old slag heaps. As many have been around for over 100 years many claim removal will spoil the character of the landscape.
   
View looking down towards Llamberis. The white squares at the bottom is the inlet/outlet for the Dinorwic pump storage power station. Although the price of slate has made it economic to quarry slate, it is the power station carved out in the hill side below that stops any chance of re opening the Dinoric quarries. If your party is all over 12 yrs then a visit to the Electric Mountain is well worth taking. The shear size of the man made cavers is awe inspiring.
   

National Slate Museum

The Pardarn Centre (now the National Slate Museum) on the valley floor was the old workshops/foundry for the Dinorwic quarries. The centre is also home to the Llamberis lake railway although it wasn't running when we were there. Thelma sits in the shed.
Clark stands in one of the few surviving slate wagons. These were used for dressed slate. From Dinorwic they were loaded two abreast (4 per truck) on to wagons on the 4ft Padarn Railway where they were taken to the Port Dinorwic incline. From here the slate wagons were lowered down to the port.
Upon closure of the quarry in 1969 the local council managed to raise preservation orders on the workshops and many associated items. The work shops have remained pretty un touched since they closed.
The lighting adds to the atmosphere of a working workshop.
Originally the centre was powered by a water wheel which could provide up to 80hp. This was replaced by a small peddler wheel. While more economic, not as impressive.
Right - one of the Blodins from the quarry. This has been set up to demonstrate how they were used. These had a terrible accident reputation but were essential for lifting slate up out of deep quarries.
Left a restored incline. This incline used platforms. This restoration was carried out using, as far as possible, local labour and products. Much of the work was carried out in the original workshop complex.

 

 




















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