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Lavino

UK Rhiwbach slate mine Wales January 2016

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Visited the slate mine with @the Kwan and @trancentral was another exellent trip with two great lads we never fail to have a good laff on our outings. So much to see and thanks to Kwan for his map reading and navigating us around the many tunnels and levels. So on with the history and photos .....

 

History

 

Rhiwbach Slate Quarry, along with Blaen y Cwm, differed from all other quarries in the slate industry in one important aspect. The exit incline from the quarry for the finished product led up and not down.  The classic balanced incline, by which the outward loaded slate wagons brought up the empty wagons by gravity, was not possible.  The answer for the quarry was to build a substantial engine house to power the incline from the bottom, with the haulage wire passing around a sheave at the top.  This engine house also powered the quarry machinery and the underground inclines.  The remains of the engine house are a notable feature of the quarry with the tall chimney still an imposing sight.

The quarry was started at the beginning of the 19th century on a site to the South of the later main workings.  This area developed into a deep pit working which has now flooded.  This part of the quarry was worked out by the 1880's and work transferred to the present site.  The pit working here, started in the 1860's, was later developed extensively underground to encompass eight levels.  Drainage of the underground workings was through a tunnel which began 350 feet below the surface and emerged onto the side of Cwm Penmachno.  The entrance to this drainage tunnel may still be seen today.  When the quarry first opened, the slate was taken down on horseback into Cwm Penmachno and eventually to the quay at Trefriw on the Conwy.  Later the finished product was taken out in the opposite direction, around the shoulder of Manod Mawr and down to the Afon Dwyryd below Maentwrog.

The Rhiwbach Tramway opened in 1863 and revolutionised the transport arrangements for the quarry.  A wharf was opened in Porthmadog and from then on all slate went out along the tramway and down the Ffestiniog Railway.  In 1908 the quarry started to use the exchange sidings at Minffordd to transfer their product to the national rail network.

This quarry was one of the most remote in the industry and it was frequently cut off for long periods in bad weather.  Because of this, the living quarters almost reached village status.  The quite extensive remains of which includes family accommodation, a shop and a school house as well as the barracks for the single men.

Although the quarry occupies a large area, the annual output rarely exceeded 6000 tons and it was closed down several times for quite long periods.  Electricity was introduced to the site in 1934 which somewhat relieved the hardships of life at this remote location.  The last workers at the quarry still barracked on site and this is believed to be the last quarry where this practice took place.  The quarry finally closed in 1951 and all the machinery was removed.  Nowadays, although much of the site is ruinous, there is still much to see.  The impressive engine house, the entrance to the underground workings - now barred by steel girders, the extensive remains of the "village" area and the flooded pit workings.

 

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Thanks for looking

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Nah, ive been underground since (stupid non-public forum lol), I already had plans so I couldnt make it. Ive also learnt how to use an ascender now and abseil properly. 

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3 minutes ago, Vulex said:

Nah, ive been underground since (stupid non-public forum lol), I already had plans so I couldnt make it. Ive also learnt how to use an ascender now and abseil properly. 

 

He He, see you at the next one mate :)

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1 minute ago, Lenston said:

 

He He, see you at the next one mate :)

Damn right! 

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Thats epic mate!

 

Got to love a bit of mining, probably one of the best parts of this hobby :)

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