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 Aberllefenni Slate

It is a known fact that in the past the slate of north Wales has roofed the world, and in some parts it still does. Monuments, gravestones, floorings, beds, fireplaces etc. etc. can and are all produced from it. In fact there is not much that slate cannot be used for so the list is endless; but having said that as with the coal industry here in Wales, the slate industry has also suffered major decline, nevertheless in the Dulais valley in north Wales one mine owner and his staff continue to eke out a living.

I do not pretend to understand the mine workings of either a slate or coal, but I do have a deep
admiration for those that work in both of them, for both places belong to the world of the Mole and both are extremely dangerous. To those of you that are left working in both I say byddwch yn lwcys ( be lucky).

Miners Lamp The Dressing of Slate Miners Lamp
Approaching Aberllenfini

The morning I visited Aberllefenni, I approached the mine by journeying on what was once a very busy road up the Dulais valley from Corris. Soon from a distance could be seen some of the very first "workings" of the mine high up on the mountain side. It was an awesome sight, which made me realise just how much effort had been needed to produce slate in the sixteenth century before mechanism. However, I must add the physical exertion needed at the slate "face" today is exactly the same as it was in yesteryear.

Waste on the mountainside

We are almost to the quarry buildings, the first entrance is now high above us on the mountain top. Notice if you will the thousands upon thousands of tons of slate waste deposited in the foreground and on the mountain. If you look closely at the bigger picture you will see further entrances as the slate is being "worked" from the heart of the mountain.

The little train

As Glyn Davies the General Foreman was explaining to me what was what at the mine, out of its 'burrow' popped this working "rabbit". The little engine had taken its driver into the mine just after dawn to complete track maintenance, it was now midday. It had been a long way in and a darn long way back out.

The Cutting and Dressing Shed

As I began my journey back to Corris after lunch, I stopped at the company's headquarters and photographed the slate cutting and dressing shed. Even this late on a Saturday, I could hear the sound of hammer striking chisel as the slate was being "dressed"

To Glyn Davies up at the mine I say Diolch yn Fawr for having the courtesy to explain to me what was what on that Saturday morning that I visited. To the rest of you at Aberllefenni, until we meet again, for we are sure too, Hwyl (cheers) from Ole R.D.

I have provided a link HERE to the company's own website for it has technical information and other photographs.

Graphics by Ole R.D. Copyright © 1999-2005 / All Rights Reserved
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