The Mighty Rhosydd Slate Mine, Ffestiniog.

Help Support Derelict Places:

blacksnake

Regular Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2016
Messages
20
Reaction score
75
Location
Liverpool
Just thought I'd give you guys a taste of what, well, "Floats My Boat"...Visited May 2016 with: Mr. Blober, Dave (The Dangerous), Rich, Don (1) and (Mad) Mick....


Rhosydd Slate Quarry sits high up on the flanks of 'Moelwyn Mawr' with the mines highest workings being some 1,850 feet (560 m) above sea level. It overlooks Llyn (lake) Cwmorthin, which itself is some 1050 feet above the sea. On the outskirts of the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, and is indeed MIGHTY!



(Brief) History Bit.

Information is by the kind courtesy of David Sallery Rhosydd intro

And of course: The All Knowing Wiki

Rhosydd was by no means the largest of the Ffestiniog quarries, neither was it one of the smallest. It had a working life of over 80 years changing ownership multiple times. Mining began although on a small scale in the 1840's, with the mine closing in 1947 and the pumps turned off the following year. The mine was hampered due to it's remote location. Not only did every piece of the heavy duty machinery required to mine the slate have to be transported up to, and then into the mine, but the finished slates then had to be transported the 8 miles to Porthmadog. The Ffestiniog railway was the life blood of the local slate industry, providing the mines around Blaenau with a viable means of transport for the finished slates. This narrow gauge railway severed Cwmorthin, Conglog, Wrysgan, Rhosydd and Croesor mines to name just a few. Unfortunately for Rhosydd, the most direct route to the railway was via land owned by the Cwmorthin Slate Mine who had every reason to hinder their biggest competitor... As a result A solution was found in 1864, with the opening of the Croesor Tramway to which the quarry was connected by one of the longest single-pitch inclines in Wales.

The first major workings were at a site known as the West Twll (pit or hole), begun in the 1840's, about a mile south and nearly 300 feet higher than the final main workings at Bwlch Cwmorthin. This pit was enlarged and deepened over the years to a depth of over 200 feet. As the workings went deeper, adits and tunnels were driven north to win more slate and to drain the workings. A similar but smaller East Twll was also begun a few years later. Eventually the easier won slate became exhausted and the quarry developed into an underground working following the vein of slate northwards and downwards. The quarry developed to encompass 14 floors underground, numbered from the top, with a total of 170 chambers from which the slate was won.



Following the miners track around Llyn Cwmorthin, things are still nice and level but the steep climb to come can be seen ahead....

20160430_123909.jpg




Looking across the lake to Allt Fawr, where in 1942 a Hawker Hurricane flown by Pilot Officer Robert McIntyre of the Canadian Air Force crashed in low cloud killing him instantly. His body was recovered, but anyone brave enough to scale this peak (Mick) will still find the scattered remains of the crashed plane....

20160430_124033.jpg




What remains of Rhosydd Chapel and School House....

20160430_124011.jpg




Stopping to catch our breath, it was worth a look back down across the old mill and barraks of Conglog Mine to Llyn Cwmorthin... (The lone tree center image marks the Chapel)... No, we're still not there yet!

20160430_130405.jpg




During the climb looking up tends to be a tad demoralizing. But that said, it's impossible to ignore the huge waste tips of Rhosydd. During it's life the mine 'won' 222,000 tons of finished slate and produced 2.5 million tons of waste rock!

20160430_130421.jpg



Right.... We're finally there. And after an equipment and light check it was time to go below...

20160430_134033.jpg



The level 9 adit was the longest built at Rhosydd, measuring 2,221 feet (677 m) from the mouth to the haulage system at the inner end. It had a gradient of 1 in 86 to aid drainage, and took eight years to complete, being completed in 1870 or 1871. Wagons were hauled in and out using a continuous rope haulage system. The rope was powered by a water wheel situated between the main mill and the barracks. Special transporter wagons called "megryns" had an attachment to grip the cable and these were marshaled at each end of a rake of wagons. A curious feature of this adit is that the double line of track only used three rails, the center rail being common to both. This meant that wagons with double flanges, common in other quarries could not be used at Rhosydd. There was a loop halfway along the adit where outgoing loads passed in going empty wagons. Since the pumps were turned off in 1948 the 5 levels below (9 - 14) are today totally flooded. The only way is up!

After much sploshing and splashing, tripping and dipping we reached the wagon haulage system at the inner end of the Level 9 Adit.... And yes D. Dave did try and get it working, but lacked sufficient WD-40!

20160430_135953.jpg


20160430_140017.jpg



It's at this point that a decision must be made. Either, turn left into the East section of workings, or turn right into the Western side... During this discussion I heard words like: "collapse, fall, damaged, difficult, death on a stick and, I don't know"!!!

WEST it was then....

20160430_141747.jpg


Err... Chaps!?! "Don't worry. If they meant it they would have used RED spray paint!" Was the reassuring response. Time to put away the camera, make peace with the Good Lord himself and crack on. Hopefully the above pic wont be the last one the emergency services recover from my smashed camera found at the foot of a 60ft drop!!!

Much scrambling, climbing, avoiding, tentative stepping and surviving followed... On level 6 the miners of Rhosydd broke through into the neighboring workings of the Croesor Mine. Today, this has born the CRTT (Croesor, Rhosydd Through Trip) considered the most difficult of underground explores. It includes traversing, zip lining, swimming and SRT (single rope technique) with no possible means of turning back, succeed or die! Err Nah, not today.

Looking into Croesor from Rhosydd. The bridge has long gone and this vast chamber is totally flooded...

20160430_151607.jpg


20160430_151618.jpg


This is the only way of exiting Croesor in order to gain Rhosydd during the CRTT. Then, confirming the reason I nicknamed Dave, "Dangerous" he dons harness, going down and coming up rope stuff... (SRT) Hooks up, and into the abyss he goes... Followed a bit more tentatively by Rich who, thus far I had considered sensible....

Paul, myself and Don decided to back track into Rhosydd leaving Mick to watch over the two Loons. Lunch time at the foot of the very impressive 3/6 incline... A "Trwnc" (level platform transporter) at the incline base, once used to transport the laden and empty "megryns" (slab wagons) between the working floors...

DSCF7193.jpg

DSCF7187.jpg

DSCF7191.jpg


A quick lunch (including cheesy mini snacks) later, the rest of the group return. So, up the incline we go...

The system used to operate the incline. Included a weighted cart called a "mochyn" which traveled down the incline on a narrow gauge track, and passed beneath the wider gauged Trwnc hauling it upwards. The weight of the mochyn was controlled by adding and/or removing blocks of iron. The speed controlled by a brake-band with wooden blocks...

20160430_165427.jpg


And yes... We did get this one to turn.

Further along on Level 3 we emerged into a sight to behold... After two and half hours underground the last thing I expected to see was daylight...

20160430_144835.jpg


These are the chambers opened up in the West Twll...

20160430_144019.jpg


As per usual, every step to get in means a step to get out. Another two + hours back the way we came saw us back at the haulage wheel. The guys decided, (thankfully) it was time to exfil...

20160430_190101.jpg


Only the long walk back to the car park remained... Yay! We lived to tell the tail...

20160430_200333.jpg


THE MOST EXCELLENT UNDERGROUND EXPERIENCE.... EVER!!!!

Much thanks and even more respect to Blober and Co. :D:D:D

Thanks for looking guys... and don't worry, they're not all this lengthy!
 

Conrad

Regular Member
Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2014
Messages
329
Reaction score
661
Awesome, Nice one getting something like that done.
 

Lavino

Regular Member
Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2015
Messages
465
Reaction score
1,522
Very interesting report that snakey and great write-up.
 

smiler

Regular Member
Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2010
Messages
4,855
Reaction score
3,394
Location
Lost in Cornwall
I enjoyed that Snake, lovely pics and an interesting amusing report, I am relieved that you have some sensible friends to keep and eye on you, Proper Job, Thanks
 

SlimJim

Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
867
Reaction score
1,766
Location
Kent/West Pomerania, Poland
I like a long'n, especially if it's a decent quality underground explore! It's places like this that make me want to get into caving. Trouble is I've always been about 6 hours drive from any caves :D
 

blacksnake

Regular Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2016
Messages
20
Reaction score
75
Location
Liverpool
Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed it. It's a long report as it's an epic explore, the Welsh mining industry never did do "easy" and Rhosydd is no exception. From front door to front door including driving, walking and undergrounding it was about a 15 hour day!

Mr SlimJim, not to split hairs but I don't do caving it's man made mines for me, and seeing as how the UK is pretty much hollow due to the mining industry I'm sure there's a hole near you... Ooo-err missus!
 

Wrench

Well-known member
DP Supporter
Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2016
Messages
1,167
Reaction score
1,347
Location
Lancashire
Nice one Sir Snake.
I still have fond memories of our underground explore with Blober and yourself in Welsh washes. Excellent pics sir and excellent write up.
I assume Mr Blober was making penguin noises the whole way round?
 

stinkywitch

Regular Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2016
Messages
14
Reaction score
27
Location
South Yorkshire
Looks like an amazing explore - however just looking at the pictures sets my heart racing, so think I will let you explore underground and post the pictures here where I can explore from the safety of my living room ;)
 

Latest posts

Top