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Report - Maenofferen Surface Relics, Blaenau Ffestiniog - August '12

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by Xan_Asmodi, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. Xan_Asmodi

    Xan_Asmodi Cave Monster
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    Feb 18, 2011
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    Visited with The Kwan and Walsh

    Getting up at seven, I had to get the bus to Dolgellau; not so much as a problem. What was a problem was some Welshman forgetting to set his alarm. Dolgellau isn't much fun in the rain. Bastard! Eventually meeting up we headed up to Blaenau. Grim forsaken place that it holds some of the best industrial sites that I've ever had the pleasure of photographing.

    Maenofferen is a bit of a mystery. The quarry is still active with the owners untopping/reclaiming the slate close to the surface, I think this puts a lot off people off heading up. What is there is absolutely beautiful, the dressing house is still there, albeit trashed as hell.

    Maenofferen was first worked for slate by men from the nearby Diphwys quarry shortly after 1800. By 1848 slate was being shipped via the Ffestiniog Railway, but traffic on the railway ceased in 1850. In 1857 traffic resumed briefly and apart from a gap in 1865, a steady flow of slate was dispatched via the railway. The initial quarry on the site was known as the David Jones quarry which was the highest and most easterly of what became the extensive Maenofferen complex.

    In 1861 the Maenofferen Slate Quarry Co. Ltd. was incorporated, producing around 400 tons of slate that year. The company leased a wharf at Porthmadog in 1862 and shipped 181 tons of finished slate over the Ffestiniog Railway the following year.

    When the Ffestiniog Railway ceased operation in 1946, Maeofferen leased a short length of the railway's tracks between Duffws station and the interchange with the LMS railway, west of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Slate trains continued to run over this section until 1962, Maenofferen then becoming the last slate quarry to use any part of the Ffestiniog Railway's route. From 1962 slate was shipped from the quarry by road, although the internal quarry tramways including stretches of the Rhiwbach tramway continued in use until at least the 1980s.

    The quarry was purchased by the nearby Llechwedd quarry in 1975 together with Bowydd, which also incorporated the old Votty workings: these are owned by the Maenofferen Company. Underground production at Maenofferen ceased during November 1999 and with it the end of large-scale underground working for slate in north Wales. Production of slate recommenced on the combined Maenofferen site, consisting of "untopping" underground workings to recover slate from the supporting pillars of the chambers. Material recovered from the quarry tips will also be recovered for crushing and subsequent use.


    Looking down on the site


    7718247320_92ba36559c_z.jpg 7718255972_8c10b9d10f_z.jpg




    Whilst we were up there we met a trio of very serious looking people. Initially concerned they were officials we steered a wide course, but eventually curiosity got the better of me. We approached them and started to chat. These people are from an industrial archeology group running a week long course in the coming weeks at Maenofferen. We started to discuss the history of the place and one of the gents disclosed he had participated in a survey of the site in 1981. He was visibly upset about the destruction wrought upon the place, the stripping of copper and people just using the sledgehammer to get it out. We asked about the machines in the next photo and apparently they're rare, dating from the first decade of the 20th century.

    Wasted Machines, Lost History


    Can anyone enlighten me on what this is/was?


    Wash Basin


    An Accurate Reflection

    I actually felt for the guy we met, but as they don't publish, their 1981 work is potentially gone forever. They lost it from their archives. The undamaged machines in situ may never been seen again because they choose not to share their work with the world. If you want something to survive, share it. Not publishing is shortsighted and limits the ability of future generations to truly get understand what has come before. /rant

    A great place with so much to see. It's been a while since I've done derp and it kind of feels insulting to the site to call it that, but this is something special. We didn't stick around for too long though; we had plans.

    FYI, all photos were shot on this beautifulbeautiful bit of glass
    Thanks for looking and thanks for reading! :thumb
    #1 Xan_Asmodi, Aug 6, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012

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