Llanberis Lake Railway and National Slate Museum

16. Llanberis

Wednesday 25th August 2021

Allow us to preface this post with an apology. Those of you who are keen followers may notice that the videos here feature the sister site, Robert on the Rails’ logo. Robert tells Matilda this was a genuine administrative error and not a blatant attempt to promote across the two sites.

At LLanberis, Robert was pleased to see that, before the first train of the day leaves, you can watch the fire being stoked and the engines taking on water, in order to get up steam, outside the National Slate Museum. . .

. . . which is situated right by the station in the Dinorwig Quarry workshops. Getting our priorities in the right order, we planned to visit the museum after our train ride.

We were to be pulled by the engine Dolbadarn, which like all the engines on the line, was rescued from the Dinorwig slate quarries and restored to work the Llanberis Lake Railway.

The Llanberis Lake Railway runs alongside Padarn Lake to Penllyn and back.

Back at Llanberis station we were able to admire Thomas Bach at work.

Thomas was the other steam engine operating that day. But not that Thomas

Rising behind the station, the V2 incline was used at the Vivian Quarry during the peak of slate production here from 1875 until the early 1930s. Trucks loaded with slate were pushed onto the upper carrier and empty wagons were loaded at the bottom. Both are secured to a wire rope. When the brake is released in the drum house the weight of the upper traveller carries the slate downhill and pulls the empty trucks to the top. It was restored in 1998 and is the only working slate incline today in the UK. Due to Covid restrictions it has not been running and has only been in operation briefly twice this summer: we were therefore very fortunate that its second day of operation coincided with the date of our visit [see Video of the day]. During the eighteen months of disuse the tensioning of the cable has relaxed which is the cause of the dramatic bump at the bottom and after this day’s running the engineers will be adjusting the tension.

The National Slate Museum boasts the “largest working waterwheel on mainland Britain”. It is 50 feet 5 inches in diameter and 5 foot 3 inches wide rotating around a 12 inch axle.

It was retired in 1925 and replaced by a turbine which is still in use. Surprisingly the wheel was never scrapped and it was restored in 1982 and installed in the museum.

The museum is laid out as though the quarrymen have just left for the night and the displays and demonstrations give a real insight into their work and lives.

There are more engines to admire in the yard.

We then decided to walk to the Lyn Padarn and LLanberis observation point.

The walk took us past derelict quarrymen’s homes half way up. These cottages were built in the 1870s for quarrymen who lived too far away to return home each night and these are therefore called the Anglesey Barracks as many, though not all, of the quarrymen came to Dinorwig from Anglesey. The two room dwellings provided little protection from the elements and even derelict, it is clear that living conditions were very harsh.

The observation point proved to be further than some of our party had envisaged and two opted to stop and enjoy the views part way. Even these were spectacular.

Those who persevered and made it all the way to the top . . .

. . . said the views were . . .

. . . truly breathtaking . . .

. . . in all directions. See Selfie of the day.

Video of the day:

Selfie of the day:

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