Penmaenmawr Granite Quarries
|Date||21 April 2012|
SH 70549 75990; 53.26504°N, 3.94235°W – Penmaen Quarry Mill
SH 70044 75890; 53.26402°N, 3.94987°W – De Winton locomotive
SH 69974 75697; 53.26227°N, 3.95084°W – Extractive site
Use of granite at Penmaenmawr dates back to Neolithic times when there was an axe factory on Graiglwyd; stone axes manufactured there have been found in many different parts of Britain. More recent quarrying of Penmaenmawr’s granite started in the 1830s, when the stone was used to make setts — small rectangular paving blocks for surfacing roads. Not long afterwards, two separate quarrying concerns had been established: on Graiglwyd in the east and Penmaen in the west. The former was owned by the Darbishire family, and the latter by the Brundrits company. These two enterprises merged in 1911, forming the Penmaenmawr & Welsh Granite Company. Today the quarry complex is owned by Hanson Aggregates.
The market for setts was diminishing in the early 20th century and sett production at Graiglwyd came to an end in the 1930s. The emphasis had been shifting towards the production of crushed rock for use as railway ballast and in asphalt applications, with crushing mills having been built in the 1880s and 1890s. A new crushing plant was built at the site in 1983 to produce aggregates.
The internal transport system employed three-foot gauge track and incorporated some 60 inclines, which were in use until around 1965 and were superseded by a conveyor belt system and haul roads. Originally, ships would load with cargo from jetties at the town’s sea front, and with the coming of the main railway line to Penmaenmawr in 1848 exports were also made by rail. Timber stumps of the supports of both jetties remain today — one, demolished in 1960, at Brundrits Wharf below the Penmaen Quarries; the other on the rocky beach by the promenade, opposite the railway sidings at the end of the modern conveyor that starts from the Graiglwyd side of the complex.
At the end of 2008, having lost its contract to supply Network Rail with railway ballast, Hanson announced that it was to mothball its quarrying operation at Penmaenmawr, but stated that the concrete and asphalt plants at the site would continue to operate.