#401 – Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry Part 1


I’ve no particular association with the area or the industry, but I have an odd fascination with the slate industry and the way it has shaped the landscape of North Wales.

In most industries, once a plant has worn out or is rendered obsolete for whatever reason, the place is either raised to the ground and something else is built there, or it is regenerated or re-purposed into something else, e.g. apartments, offices, colleges, etc.


Not so quarrying. While some quarries that are simply holes in the landscape have been filled with landfill, the removal of rock from a hillside or mountainside is somewhat irreversible. But whereas most quarrying has minimal waste (e.g. the majority of what is quarried is used, such as gravel or sand quarrying), slate quarrying of the past was a different proposition entirly. Yeilds of around 10% meant that collosal amounts of waste material (or ‘rubbish’) were created, and these continue to litter the hillsides of Snowdonia.


I’d visited Dinorwic on a couple of occasions previously, but hadn’t explored any other quarries but had read about them on the Quarryscapes blog, Graham Stephen’s Geotopoi blog and Iain Robinsons Treasure Maps blog, the Penmorfa website as well as on Flickr. These quarries are a complete paradigm shift from other industrial sites, and not just for the reasons I mentioned above. They tend to have been closed for many, many years, and the places are just left to decay. Consequently, people have been exploring and photographing them for years, so by searching various sources online there’s a really good chronicle of how things have changed over the past 30-50 years.

It has been through these websites that I have become friendly with Iain Robinson, who invited me along to see the Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry, one that he is quite familair with. The quarry isn’t a huge place, certainly nowhere near as big as the giant Dinorwic and Penrhyn Quarries that dominated the industry for many years, but is a good size nonetheless. Furthermore it has recently seen a partial re-opening after a seam of green slate was discovered.

See Iain’s blog here: http://robinsonmaps.blogspot.co.uk/

5 Comments Add yours

  1. That’s a really good point you make about people exploring the quarries for years and there being a chronology to their posts.A look at the AditNow archive albums for here is often a poignant reminder of how time and nature slowly encroach. I’m just glad that it isn’t economically expedient to demolish anything here at the moment.- warning signs are when an archaeological survey is requested by the quarry concerning some aspect. Superb photos as always and thanks for the mention and link 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. andy says:

      Thanks Iain! I wish there were parallels with other (non-slate) places I go, but sadly, the best you will get is maybe some official pictures of places in use, but precious little else, and I think that’s one of the reasons that I find the slate quarries so interesting – this photographic timeline of growth, decline, closure, then ongoing (indefinite?) decline and decay thereafter.


  2. Nice work, Andy. I always think it is fascinating and a privilege to see that blondin pylon still standing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. andy says:

      Thanks Graham, I’ve never seen one before so it was interesting to see it and get an idea of how they functioned in the quarry.

      Liked by 1 person

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