Pen-yr-Orsedd Slate Quarry

Date Visited: March 2015

First worked in 1816, and finally closing in 1979 (although dates seem to vary depending on source), Pen-yr-Orsedd was one of the major slate producers in the Nantlle Valley. For many years, the quarry was linked to the Nantlle Railway that linked the quarries of the Nantlle Valley with the harbour at Caenarfon. Indeed, the section to the quarry was the last section to close in 1963, at which time motive power was provided by a farm tractor.

The quarry consisted of several pits and was best known for it's series of aerial ropeways known as 'Blondins' that lifted trucks of slate from the pits and brought them to the sides where they were oved to the mills for processing. Although these fell out of use in the 1960's, the winding engines and some of the towers still exist in the quarry and it was these that I was interested to see.

This old film gives an idea of their operation - see 3.00 onwards, or just enjoy the full film to see a slate quarry in operation generally.

The quarry has reopened and is owned by the Macalpine group who are exploiting a newly found seam of green rock.

Visited with Iain Robinson, a true gentleman and a font of knowledge on the local area and it's industrial heritage.