I’ve only visited two slate quarries (Dinorwic and Pen-yr Orsedd) but every time I visit North Wales I am reminded of the physical impact this industry had on the landscape.
Although some slate quarrying continues, it is on a much smaller scale than in days gone by, largely due to the building industry’s preference for roof tiles over roofing slates. However unlike the manufacturing industry or coal mining, you cannot just close a quarry and knock it down. Huge scars in the landscape are a constant reminder of the generations of men who braved harsh, dangerous conditions and the Snowdonia weather to drill, dynamite and transport slate from the cliff faces to the local ports or railway yards. And then there are the piles of slate ‘rubbish’ – the offcuts from an industry where yields of 10% were common.
Pen-yr-Orsedd – this quarry had been abandoned but reopened a few years back, so was operational when I went a couple of years back (albeit shut for the weekend). I’d mainly gone to see the remains of the blondins, but they’re not the easiest things to make an interesting photograph of, it’s fair to say.
Dinorwic – I’ve visited twice and each time I’ve been blown away by the sheer scale of the workings. The railway track stretched precariously over the canyon has since collapsed, so I’m glad I managed to make a memorable image of it when I did!