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Report - Dinorwic Slate Quarry, NW Wales, June 2010

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by layz, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. layz

    layz Conquistador d'Wolverton
    28DL Full Member

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    Afternoon Guys,

    This was one of the most fun places I've ever explored, it's not very easy to get to and requires lots of walking up an down the mountain, but well worth it!

    Introduction

    Another place I visited with my friend on our non-exploring holiday, was Dinorwic Slate Quarry, the second largest slate quarry in the world. The quarry covered over 2.8 sqkm, consisting of two main sections and 20 galleries.

    The manufacturing process of roof slate is incredibly wasteful, with only 10% of slate removed from the quarry face ending up as salable slate. This is reflected in the architecture of the buildings, inclined railways and pathways; all of which are constructed from huge blocks of un-usable slate. You can’t imagine how much slate there is, and how much it’s used until you see it, my poor attempt at photographing this epic site does little to convey its enormity.

    All the finished roof slate was made on the mountain side, so the quarry had a network of railways to transport blocks of ‘raw’ slate to be cut up into workable chunks for skilled workers to shape into the various styles and sizes of roof slate required.

    Due to the fragility of slate, the workers had to make 128 slates to be paid for only 100, the 28% margin was allowed for breakage outside of the quarry down to the docks where the slate was shipped across the globe.

    The quarry consisted of a number of faces, which various levels. Each face of each level was blasted daily and the slate ‘boulders’ were removed by hand and transported by railways on each level and cut up into smaller pieces ready to be shaped. Once the slate was finished it was transported to the end of the levels to the inclines, where it was loaded into trucks and sent down the incline via gravity. The force of the loaded slate moving down the incline would lift the empty trucks up ready for loading.
    The problem was that there were just too many inclines, and it would take hours for a piece of slate to get from the top of the quarry to the bottom


    History

    Slate quarrying has taken place on the site since 1787 with the first horse drawn tramway constructed in 1809. Dinorwic employed over 3,000 men at its height, falling to 600 by 1969 when it finally closed. For 70 years the main motive power was horse and hand until steam locomotives were introduced in 1870 to work the various levels. These engines were vertical boilered locos supplied by De Wintons, a few years later Hunslet supplied larger locos, two of which are still working in preservation today.

    Between 1935 and 1949, 22 internal combustions locos were bought for use on the levels. However they didn’t last as long as their steam cousins, since the quarry closed in 1969.
    The quarry closed due to many factors including: Imports, changes in building materials, and the shear size of the place and the numerous waste tips which were beginning to slide.





    View from near the top, looking towards Snowdonia
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    What it was all for, slate:
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    The winding gin at the top of the incline:
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    Everything is made from slate, including the inclined railway embankments:
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    One of the inclines and tugs used to move loaded slate wagons down the mountain:
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    Evidence of the railways on the levels, used to transport unfinished slate:
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    Tunnels, connecting the different quarry faces to the levels:
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    The massive cutting shed:
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    Slate cutters workshops:
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    Various compressor engines equipment:
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    The worker’s cottages, each only two rooms:
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    Regards
     

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  2. georgie

    georgie He Never Even Got There
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    did you have a look at dinorwic quarry hospital whilst you was there m8 its worth a little look

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    its not UE but nice to see specially with the morg right next door aswell

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    #2 georgie, Jun 21, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2010
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