Garreg Fawr Aerial Ropeway

Garreg Fawr Aerial Ropeway

Garreg Fawr Aerial Ropeway

Date

26 July 2014
Location

Betws Garmon

SH 54259 58165; 53.10070°N, 4.17826°W

Information

In 1907 Alfred Hickman Ltd acquired Garreg Fawr iron mine and embarked upon a major redevelopment programme. As part of this work, a 4.7 km-long aerial ropeway was constructed in order to transport crushed ore from the mine to the railway (the LNWR) at Llanberis on the other side of Moel Eilio. The ropeway was supported by steel pylons fixed to masonry bases. The buckets it conveyed each had a capacity of 300 kg. The first leg of their journey was northwards to a corner base where the ropeway turned north-eastwards taking it up over the shoulder of the mountain and thence down to a terminus on the banks of Lyn Padarn in Llanberis.

 

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Garreg Fawr / Ystrad (Silurian) Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Date

12 July 2014
Location

Betws Garmon

SH 54415 57925; 53.09859°N, 4.17583°W

Information

Visible from a distance as a diagonal gash in the mountainside above Betws Garmon, the workings for iron on the western flank of Moel Eilio form a series of opencuts and adits. These were operated as two separate concerns, divided by an opposing diagonal created by a parish boundary wall. The lower was known as the Ystrad or Silurian mine, the upper as Garreg Fawr.

Up until 1900, Ystrad mine consisted only of small opencast workings and was developed on a larger scale from 1909 by the Bettws Garmon Iron Ore and Smelting Company. A tramway connected the mine to the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway (NWNGR) – the forerunner of the Welsh Highland Railway (WHR). The company soon changed its name to the Phosphoric Iron Ore Company. In financial straits, it was taken over (on paper) in 1913 by a new entity, the Silurian Iron Ore Company, the former company’s assets, but not its liabilities, being transferred to the new company. The mine closed in 1919.

Garreg Fawr mine originated as an unsuccessful trial for copper ore. Iron ore was instead mined there for a period in the 1840s and the site was worked in conjunction with the nearby slate quarry in the 1860s by the Garreg Fawr Slate and Mineral Company. The mine was thereafter operated sporadically under a number of different proprietors until being acquired in 1907 by Wolverhampton-based Alfred Hickman Ltd. Major developments were undertaken at this time, including the construction of a 4.7 km long aerial ropeway. This conveyed buckets of ore up over the shoulder of the hill, via the col Bwlch y groes, and then down to Llanberis. The ropeway terminus, on the banks of Llyn Padarn, joined a siding of the London and North Western Railway (LNWR). The mine closed in 1913 and enjoyed a brief burst of activity during World War I when access to foreign sources of iron was under threat.

Further Reading

Ystrad/ Garreg Fawr Iron Mines (Treasure Maps);
Dr Gwynfor Pierce-Jones, “Iron Ore Mines of Betws and Waunfawr”, Welsh Highland Heritage No 39, March 2008

 

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Dinorwic Quarry (6)

Looking towards Llyn Peris from ruined building in Wellington department

Date

24 September 2011
Location

Dinorwic Quarry, Llanberis

SH 59444 60017; 53.11874°N, 4.10169°W

Information

The south-western aspect of Elidir Fawr, above the lake Llyn Peris and the town of Llanberis, is dominated by the sculpted landscape formed by the now quiet galleries of Dinorwic Quarry. Commercial quarrying of slate started there in 1787 and production continued until the business closed in 1969… [read more…]

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Panorama of the Glyderau from Carnedd Dafydd

Panoramic view from close to the summit of Carnedd Daffydd

Date

2 May 2011
Location

Carnedd Dafydd, Carneddau

SH 66142 62941; 53.14672°N, 4.00290°W

Information

With an elevation of 1044 m, Carnedd Dafydd is the fourth highest peak in Wales (when Garnedd Ugain in the Snowdon massif is included). The name of the mountain means David’s Cairn, probably in honour of Dafydd ap Gruffudd, younger brother of the last independent prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. Dafydd was captured in 1283 and taken to Shrewsbury where he was hanged, drawn and quartered.

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Glyn Rhonwy Quarry

From the waste tips of Cefn Du Quarry looking out across Llyn Padarn to Dinorwic Quarry on the slopes of Elidir Fawr, with Y Garn and Glyder Fawr to the right (D)

Date

13 March 2011
Location

Glyn Rhonwy, Llanberis

(A) SH 56960 60980; 53.12672°N, 4.13921°W
(B) SH 56392 60760; 53.12460°N, 4.14759°W
(C) SH 56101 60644; 53.12348°N, 4.15189°W
(D) SH 55640 60500; 53.12206°N, 4.15870°W

Information

On the slopes of Cefn Du, in a fairly narrow band extending from the roadside of the A4086 through Llanberis up to the coll with Moel Eilio, there can be found a number of disused slate quarries. Starting from the bottom, these are: Glyn Rhonwy Isaf (with three pits), Glyn Rhonwy Uchaf (two pits), Cook and Ddol (two pits), Cefn Du and, finally, Chwarel Fawr. Quarrying operations in this area date back to the end of the 18th century and had ceased by 1930.

In 1939 the Air Ministry converted the lower pit of Glyn Rhonwy Isaf into a storage facility with a capacity for 18,000 tons of bombs. The store was constructed with two levels, the pit being backfilled with broken slate to a depth of 40 feet over the top of the roof of the upper level. Unfortunately, skimping on costs led to structural defects which caused a massive collapse of about two thirds of the building only six months after it had been built. A train, laden with a bomb payload in excess of 14,000 tons, was in the depot at the time of the collapse. The remaining underground section was thereafter abandoned and the collapsed area used for open storage. The facility was closed in 1956 but was not fully cleared of all explosive material until 1975.

Gwynedd Council owns the land comprising the former Glyn Rhonwy (Isaf and Uchaf) and Cook and Ddol Quarries, and has, for a number of years, been seeking to attract developers to the site. A land reclamation project in the lower parcel of the site (comprising the former Glyn Rhonwy Isaf Quarry) was completed in 2000, which included building an access road and creating various development plateaux. Further clearing of the site and upgrading the infrastructure with the aim of enticing investment is still underway.

Various ambitious schemes for the site have fallen through in the past – including plans in 2002 and 2003 for an indoor snow dome. In 2006 the Guardian reported that eight business groups were competing to develop the site, with one scheme including plans for a ski run, beach, spa, climbing wall, hotel, apartments and timeshares, and another with plans for a mountain bike centre featuring a mile-long cable car ride over the quarries. In 2009 Manchester-based consultancy DTZ put forward details of a scheme for mixed-use development, including business units, residential areas, outdoor leisure businesses and a campsite and caravan park.

An area originally part of the Glyn Rhonwy redevelopment site was sold in 1985 and is occupied by the Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics biotech plant (formerly Euro/DPC).

Glyn Rhonwy was used as a location in the making of the 1988 Ron Howard film Willow.

Orbs in the Bomb Store; Llanberis Bomb Store; Llanberis RAF Reserve Depot (Bomb Store) (Subterranea Britannica); Aerial photo of Glyn Rhonwy Quarry, 1994 (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

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