Dinorwic Quarries and Padarn Railway

Gauge: 1ft 10¾in (577mm) (Quarry) and 4ft (1.2m) (Padarn)

 

Collection Objects

Slate has been quarried at Llandeiniolen and Llanberis since about 1700, on land belonging to the Vaenol Estate, owned by the Assheton Smith family. In 1788 a “Great New Quarry” was started at Llanberis overlooking the lake. This was followed by the building of a quay at Port Dinorwic on the Menai Straits to which the slates were taken by horse drawn carts. In 1824 a railway of 1ft 10¾in gauge was laid, along which trains of wagons were pulled by horses. Eventually the production of slate outgrew this transport system.

By 1843 a new 4ft gauge line was built for 6½ miles from Gilfach Ddu along the north east side of Llyn Padarn to Penllyn and on to Penscoins. This part of the Dinorwic system was often called the Padarn Railway. The little slate wagons were brought down rope worked inclines from the quarries, then run along the 1ft 10¾in gauge mainline to Gilfach Ddu. There they were loaded on to transporter or “host” wagons, four at a time, and taken to Penscoins. Once at Penscoins they were removed from the host wagons and sent down a further rope worked incline to Port Dinorwic where they were unloaded into ships or mainline railway wagons.

Two steam locomotives Fire Queen and Jenny Lind were introduced in 1848. Fire Queen still survives in the museum at Penrhyn Castle. They were replaced during the 1880s and 1890s when the Hunslet Engine Company of Leeds supplied three six-wheeled locomotives, Dinorwic (1882), Amalthæa (1886) and Velinheli (1895) to work the slate traffic and the quarrymen’s trains.

For use in the quarry the Hunslet Engine Company supplied twenty small locomotives of 1ft 10¾in gauge between 1872 and 1932 and a further two for shunting on the quay at Port Dinorwic. Three more came from other sources. At the height of operations over 2000 slate wagons were in use at Dinorwic, on fifty miles of narrow gauge line. 15000 men were employed.

By 1961 however, falling demand for slate and lack of use of Port Dinorwic caused the Padarn railway to be closed and the equipment scrapped. The quarry worked on until the continuing decline in demand for slate led to closure of the whole undertaking in 1969. By then many of the locomotives had been disposed of for preservation, among them Rough Pup (1891) now in this museum. Three others provide the motive power for the Llanberis Lake Railway, a tourist line built in 1971 on the site of the former four foot gauge line along the shore of the lake. There is now no slate production at Llanberis. The quarry workshops survive and form the North Wales Quarrying Museum. Port Dinorwic is being redeveloped for housing. The dock is used by yachts.

 

Locomotives

Main Line Locos (4 ft gauge)

Dinorwic Hunslet Engine Co No. 302 of 1882; 0-6-0 tank. 4ft gauge. Scrapped 1961
Amalthæa Hunslet Engine Co No. 410 of 1886; 0-6-0 tank. 4ft gauge. Scrapped 1961
Velinheli Hunslet Engine Co No. 631 of 1895; 0-6-0 tank. 4ft gauge. Scrapped 1961

Quarry and Port Locos (1ft 10¾in Gauge)

Wellington De Winton & Co. of 1870; 0-4-0
Harriet De Winton & Co. of 1874; 0-4-0
Peris De Winton & Co. of 1875; 0-4-0
Victoria De Winton & Co. of 1876; 0-4-0
Padarn De Winton & Co; 0-4-0
Dinorwic (Charlie) Hunslet Engine Co. No. 51 of 1870; 0-4-0 tank.
George (Minstrel Park) Hunslet Engine Co. No. 184 of 1877; 0-4-0 tank.
Louisa Hunslet Engine Co. No. 195 of 1877; 0-4-0 tank.
Velinheli Hunslet Engine Co. “Alice” Class No. 409 of 1886; 0-4-0 tank. Survives.
Alice (King of the Scarlets) Hunslet Engine Co. “Alice” Class No. 492 of 1889; 0-4-0 tank.
Enid (Red Damsel/Elidir) Hunslet Engine Co “Alice” Class No. 493 of 1889; 0-4-0 tank. Survives.
No 1 (Rough Pup) Hunslet Engine Co “Alice” Class No. 541 of 1891; 0-4-0 tank. Survives.
No 2 (Cloister) Hunslet Engine Co “Alice” Class No. 542 of 1891; 0-4-0 tank. Survives.
Vaenol (Jerry M) Hunslet Engine Co “Mills” Class No. 638 of 1895; 0-4-0 tank. Survives.
Elidir (Lady Madcap) Hunslet Engine Co. No. 652 of 1896. 0-4-0 tank; Purchased from Groby Granite Co. 1896
Port Dinorwic (Cackler) Hunslet Engine Co “Mills” Class No. 671 of 1898; 0-4-0 tank. Survives.
The First (Bernstein) Hunslet Engine Co. “Alice” Class No. 678 of 1898; 0-4-0 tank.
The Second (Covertcoat) Hunslet Engine Co No. 679 of 1898; 0-4-0 tank. Survives
Wellington (George B) Hunslet Engine Co. “Alice” Class No. 680 of 1898; 0-4-0 tank. Survives.
No 3 (Holy War) Hunslet Engine Co. “Alice” Class No. 779 of 1902; 0-4-0 tank. Survives.
No 4 (Alice) Hunslet Engine Co. “Alice” Class No. 780 of 1902; 0-4-0 tank. Survives.
No 5 (Maid Marian) Hunslet Engine Co. “Alice” Class No. 822 of 1903; 0-4-0 tank. Survives.
No 6 (Irish Mail) Hunslet Engine Co. “Alice” Class No. 823 of 1903; 0-4-0 tank. Survives.
No 7 (Wild Aster/Thomas Bach) Hunslet Engine Co. “Alice” Class No. 849 of 1904; 0-4-0 tank. Survives.
Sybil W G Bagnall No. 1760 of 1906; 0-4-0 tank.
No 1 (Lady Joan) Hunslet Engine Co. “Port” Class No. 1429 of 1922; 0-4-0 tank. Survives.
No 2 (Dolbadarn) Hunslet Engine Co. “Port” Class No. 1430 of 1922; 0-4-0 tank.
No 70 Andrew Barclay & Sons No. 1995 of 1931; 0-4-0 tank; Purchased from Raisby Hill Limestone Co. 1948
Michael Hunslet Engine Co. “Port” Class No. 1709 of 1932; 0-4-0 tank.
Elidir Avonside Locomotive Works No. 20771 of 1933; 0-4-0 tank; Purchased from the Birtley Brick Co

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