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Report - Penarth Slate Mine - Wales - June 2012

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by Cane, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. Cane

    Cane 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    Firstly a bit of history on this mine...

    There are three main types, or categories, into which slate is graded. The oldest 'Cambrian', is found in the Penrhyn - Dinorwic and Nantlle area, then the 'Ordovician' around Blaenau Ffestiniog and Ffestiniog, finally the 'Silurian' which lies in the Curwen and Llangollen area. The site of the Penarth quarry lies just over a mile to the east of Curwen, above and south of the A5 and near 'Pen Y Grog' in the Berwyn range.

    Early working was 'open' but later underground levels were worked. From 1876 the company's solicitors were Guthrie Jones and Jones who dealt with an agreement to search for slate in and under the township of Bonnum within the manor of Rug between, C.H. Wynn and J. Parry Jones and Ex. Phillips. A considerable number of people took out £10 shares in the company including the local clergy.
    In 1868 there were 150 men employed but by 1883 there were only 10 men employed working an annual output of about 500 tons.
    The main 'tramway' was in use by 1868 and was 2' 0" gauge, worked on the balance incline mode, single track with a passing loop at the half way point.

    Work had ceased by 1890 but restarted five years later, when a small water powered mill was opened on the exchange wharf near the foot of the incline. This was fed by a dam constructed along-side and to the west of the passing loop. In the accounts for April 1925 money was spent 'rebuilding at slate wharf' - Labour £15, Materials £20.Again, in June 1929 - £25 on rails, fishplates and keys. £15 on sleepers and £30 on a winding drum.

    By the 1900's the quarry was in the hands of the 'Curwen Slate Quarry Co' and output had risen to 1700 tons. A new mill was built at the quarry in 1904 powered by a 12hp Blackstone oil engine and in 1909 a Hornsby 40 hp gas engine was employed to "supply forced air", also, an unusual large reciprocating oil engine shot-saw regarded as a rarity in Welsh slate mining.
    With the installation of the internal combustion engines additional workings for the tramway wagons were to haul fuel up to the quarry. By the 1930's only slab slate was produced.


    Enough of the history it's on with my explore...
    It's been a very long time since I've been able to get out & about exploring. Various things have stopped me, renovating my home, young child to look after, shift work & lack of people to go with.

    Finally I got my ass into gear, packed up all my torches & camera equipment & headed off to the hills with a friend of mine!

    We parked in the tiny village of Llidiart-y-Parc & after a few strange looks from the locals we headed up the hill towards the mine.

    The weather that day was terrible, it was damp, dizzily & misty. But we pressed on & finally reached our destination, the massive spoil heap slowly revealed itself through the mist.

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    Littered all around the hillside we found discarded workings from this old mine.
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    Finally reaching what we thought was the top we found the ruins of various buildings, all made from the slate from the mine but now slowly starting to flake & rot away.

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    After climbing higher & higher we finally got a view of the open workings & entrance to the mine.

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    We slid down into the depths, got our torches out & were greeted by a huge chamber.

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    So off we went to explore my first time underground & first mine to tick off the list.

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    Quick self-portrait

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    After walking about for around 5 hours we we're running out of time. We unfortunately didn't manage to see the whole mine but then there's always next time!
    So we packed everything up & headed for the exit

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    I've completely caught the underground exploring bug. I'm going to try hard to get out & explore more & also try to tag along with others!!!
     

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