Report - - Old Braich and Fron Quarries - Y Fron - October 2014 | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Old Braich and Fron Quarries - Y Fron - October 2014

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
Old Braich and Fron Quarries – Y Fron

This is Old Braich Slate Quarry.

I apologise for the strange colours, it was not a dubious attempt at HDR, but a schoolboy error with the light settings on my camera!



Fron and Old Braich quarries contain an interesting sequence of remains, dating from the 18th century to the 1960's.

Exploitation of the slate veins probably begins in the late eighteenth century; Old Braich quarry displays a characteristic early gallery system of this period. Fron is recorded as an "old quarry" on the Crown wastes, which the parishioners had the right to work, on the tithe map of 1840, but documentary sources suggest that it had been worked by Crown tenants from c.1815 . It was systematically worked by a succession of limited companies from 1864 to 1891, and spasmodically up to the 1960s. The course of the 3'6" gauge horse-worked railway which connected Fron to the Nantlle Railway at Tal y Sarn slate quarry, built between 1864 and 1868, is readily apparent, as are the remains of the 2' gauge railway which replaced it in 1881. This may have seen occasional locomotive working, and remained in use until c. 1930.

Other surviving structures at Old Braich and Fron include a slate mill dating from the 1870s, lying between the two quarries; a wheel-pit, mill and associated structures south-east of Fron quarry; and considerable evidence of tip contractors working from the Great Depression onwards in the form of shelters, winding houses, and a stockyard. A plan of the 1860s railway shows that the area proposed for development was formerly the site of the quarry stackyard and of a row of slate-making sheds (gwaliau). The main pan of the tip run, however, dates from the 1880s, and overlays the rubble ripping systems of the 1860s, and also the original quarry itself.

This history was written in 1994, and have a feeling most of the structures have been flattened now, the weather was grim so didn’t spend too much time searching.

My Visit

Not having much time to research the mines and quarries in this area I opted for the drive around and look into the many big holes next to the quarry spoil heaps. I was joined by one of my mini TLR’S. After a few interesting quarries we finally could see an entrance at the bottom of this hole.


While explaining the perils and pitfalls of descending steep slate scree I promptly surfed a large slab of slate through the remains of a dead sheep much to my daughters amusement. This hole appears to be where all the sheep in North Wales come to die! As well as the sheep remains there are plenty of bits of cars, tyres and various white goods strewn across the bottom of the quarry. The local council have done some research into using this and Fron Quarry as a possible landfill site.


The entrance did look promising, a large cable running in and a few bits of equipment scattered around outside.


Off we headed in to see what delights it had in store, my daughter following.


It looked promising initially, but the miners had a different idea, all in all there was about 10 meters of passage, not sure why they stopped or why they even started.


Looking back at the way in.


The short passage gave me some time to explain long exposure photography and light painting to my daughter. Not a bad effort except for the ugly troll sat there.


It also gave me some time to take some photos with my new camera of the local inhabitants.



They were European Cave Spiders and there was also a hibernating Scalloped Hook-tip moth.


We then had a look at Y Fron Quarry, which turned out to be just a large hole in the ground with some nicely coloured ponds, no passages to be found.


Another hour or so in the bad weather found a lot more dead ends and a couple of water filled passages.

Well that seemed a lot of effort for not a lot of passage, but it was a fun afternoon out. Part of the fun of exploring is trying to find something, and this was fun.



The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
Cheers both of you, was a nice Sunday stroll :)

The slabs would make a stunning climbing venue, surprised they haven't been developed as yet.

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