Felin Fawr works

Felin Fawr slate mill complex - now in use as light industrial units


12 November 2011

Coed-y-parc, Bethesda

SH 61497 66410; 53.17670°N, 4.07379°W


Felin Fawr was originally the main mill and workshop complex for Penrhyn Quarry. The first slab mill was opened in 1803 and extended in 1834. The foundry dates back to 1832 and the later slab mill to 1846. The manager’s house, on the northern edge of the site, is thought to have been constructed in the 1880s.

Power was provided by two pitchback waterwheels, driven by water from the reservoirs on the Afon Galedffrwd, and in use up to around 1930. The later of the two wheels was most likely installed around 1906 when the yard was extended to the east.

The locomotives operating on the Penrhyn Railway, running from the quarry to Port Penrhyn, were housed in the sheds at the southern end of the complex. Penrhyn Railway closed in 1962, followed in 1965 by the closure of both the internal quarry railway and Felin Fawr Works.

The site was purchased by Gwynedd Council in 1990 and parts of the complex were restored and converted for use as light industrial units. Further conversion work is also planned. The site is run by Felin Fawr Cyf.

Penrhyn Railway is also gradually being recreated by a group of preservation volunteers. In the first phase, restoration work has been carried out on the locomotive shed and track has been laid in the yard to link up with the route of the ‘main line’.

Felin fawr Slate Works (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales); Felin Fawr Cyf; Penrhyn Quarry Railway

Site entrance from the B4409 at Coed-y-parc

Felin Fawr, with the more modern industrial units at Coed-y-parc behind

(A) Manager's house, c 1880s; (B) Slab mill, 1803; (C) Slab mill, 1846; (D) Waterwheel; (E) Foundry, 1832; (F) Joiner's shop; (G) Loco shed; (H) Wheel house, c 1906;

Remains of foundry chimney

9 thoughts on “Felin Fawr works

  1. Great to see the old mill buildings in re-use, and to see the witness marks from the foundry chimney.. A most interesting post, especially the information on the Penrhyn Railway, which I didn’t know much about. They can’t have “Blanche” back!!


  2. I echo Iain’s comments. The information about the Penryhn railway is especially interesting as I knew nothing about this project. Quite a challenge too, I would think, given how long the route has been disused and the sections that have been lost over the years.


  3. Pingback: Felin Fawr Waterwheel « GeoTopoi

    • The present mills and waterwheel are almost certainly the mid-1860s rebuild of the 1840s Second generation buildings. Thomas & De Winton (of Caernarfon) was formed in 1853 (when J. P. de Winton entered into partnership in the existing Union Foundry of the successful local engineer Owen Thomas. I would very much like conclusive proof that this ‘suspension-type’ waterwheel is by De Winton, as it is so much alike to their famous 50ft wheel at Llanberis. An archaeological survey unfortunately failed to find a manufacturer’s name cast onto the Felin Fawr mill-wheel, but the Penrhyn Quarry invoices for the 1860s might provide the clue. There were De Winton slate planers in the mills, and the power line-shafting looks like theirs also). It’s certainly lovely to see the buildings in re-use. Kindest regards, Gwynfor Pierce Jones (slate quarrying archaeologist and engineering historian, nr. Caernarfon, Gwynedd) .


  4. Pingback: Felin Fawr Locomotive Shed « GeoTopoi

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