Felin Fawr Waterwheel

Hub and spokes of the suspension waterwheel


17 March 2012

Coed-y-parc, Bethesda

SH 61552 66344; 53.17612°N, 4.07295°W


Felin Fawr, the former main mill and workshop complex for Penrhyn Quarry, first opened in 1803 and closed in 1965. The site was powered by two pitchback waterwheels. The first one was constructed by De Winton of Caernarfon in 1846 and is located between the two slab mills. The wheel shown here was a later addition from around 1906 and was still in use to power the foundry blower when the site was closed down.

Both wheels were driven by water from the nearby Afon Galedffrwd and most of their structure lies below ground level. The later wheel has a diameter of 26 ft and is of a suspension type — the wheel is supported by its central shaft but power was taken off from a spur gear at the rim.

Parts of the works are now in use as industrial units while other parts, including the Penrhyn Quarry Railway, are in the process of being restored. The site is owned by Felin Fawr Cyf, to whom grateful thanks are due for kindly granting access to the wheel house.

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

Daylight showing through the corroded buckets. This is the part of the wheel above ground level.

Hub, repaired at some stage will bolted-on plates

Internal gear at the rim of the wheel

Spur gear and driveshaft, driven by the gearing at the rim of the wheel

From the back of the wheel pit at the level of the central shaft. The top of the ladder in the background is at ground level.

The Wheel House

7 thoughts on “Felin Fawr Waterwheel

  1. These are very fine photos of a fascinating relic…I know, I’m stating the obvious, but… I particularly like the shots of the cogs, however what impresses most is your ability to hold all the mid-tones in what are quite contrasty shots. Super set, as always.


  2. Fascinating, what an amazing survivor. I found a waterwheel pit in an old bleachworks in Yorkshire somewhere, it was a long, tall thin, building, quite odd really, but the wheel had long gone sadly.


  3. Pingback: Vision in Grey | GeoTopoi

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