Penrhyn Quarries

Gauge: 1ft 10¾in (577mm)

Collection Objects

Slate has been quarried at Penrhyn since the middle ages. In 1785 Richard Pennant, who became the first Lord Penrhyn, took over the estate and the quarry and introduced ambitious plans for their development. In 1790 a harbour was built at Port Penrhyn near Bangor and a road from there to Bethesda. A 1ft 10¾in gauge railway, 6¼ miles long, from the quarries to Port Penrhyn was completed in 1801. This was the first railway to be built for the carriage of slate. The rails were of iron fixed to slate sleepers. The wagons were hauled by horses. Penrhyn Quarry thus obtained a cheap and reliable route to the sea and made them early leaders in the blossoming Welsh slate industry.

In 1876 the railway was rebuilt on a new course with steel rails laid on wooden sleepers. Steam locomotives were introduced, supplied by De Winton & Co. Engineers of Caernarvon. One of these, George Henry is to be seen in this museum. Between 1882 and 1909 the Hunslet Engine Company of Leeds supplied sixteen four wheeled locomotives for use in the quarry and on the line to Port Penrhyn. From 1922 onwards a further fifteen locomotives were bought second hand from various sources.  The railway was private, providing no public service for either goods or passengers. Quarrymen’s trains were run, paid for by the quarrymen themselves.

Declining demand for slate and greater use of motor lorries caused the railway to close in 1962. All the surviving locomotives were sold for preservation, among them Blanche and Linda, built by Hunslet in 1893, which are now at work on the Festiniog Railway. Further locomotives and rolling stock are to be seen in the museum at Penrhyn Castle.

Penrhyn Quarry was extensively modernised in 1964-1967. It is still very much in operation, owned and operated by Welsh Slate (now the dominant force in the industry operating Penrhyn, Oakeley, Cwt y Bugail and Penyrorsedd Quarries), and is still the largest in the industry. It still produces over 10,000 tons of slate annually. All of this leaves the quarries by road, but some of it is destined for export and is taken to Port Penrhyn for shipment.

George Sholto No 3 Henry Hughes, Loughborough, purchased from J Beatson, Derby, 1875; 0-4-0 tank. Sold 1879?
Lady Penrhyn De Winton & Co. of 1876; 0-4-0 vertical boiler. Scrapped 1911.
George Henry De Winton & Co. of 1877; 0-4-0 vertical boiler. Survives.
Charles Hunslet Engine Co. No. 238 of 1882; 0-4-0 saddle tank. Survives
Gwynedd Hunslet Engine Co. No. 316 of 1883; 0-4-0 tank. 1ft 10¾in gauge. Survives.
Lilian Hunslet Engine Co. No. 317 of 1883; 0-4-0 tank. 1ft 10¾in gauge. Survives.
Winifred Hunslet Engine Co. No. 364 of 1885; 0-4-0 tank. 1ft 10¾in gauge. Survives.
Lilla Hunslet Engine Co. No. 554 of 1891; 0-4-0 tank. 1ft 10¾in gauge. Ex Cilgwyn.
Blanche Hunslet Engine Co. No. 589 of 1893; 0-4-0 saddle tank. 1ft 10¾in gauge.
Survives (FR)
Linda Hunslet Engine Co. No. 590 of 1893; 0-4-0 tank. 1ft 10¾in gauge. Survives (FR)
Margaret Hunslet Engine Co. No. 605 of 1894; 0-4-0 saddle tank.
Jubilee 1897 Manning, Wardle & Co. No.1382 of 1897. 0-4-0 saddle tank. Purchased 1929.
Nesta Hunslet Engine Co. No. 704 of 1899; 0-4-0 tank. 1ft 10¾in gauge. Survives.
Elin Hunslet Engine Co. No. 705 of 1899; 0-4-0 tank. 1ft 10¾in gauge. Survives.
Sanford W.G. Bagnall No. 1571 of 1900; 0-4-0 saddle tank. Purchased 1929
Hugh Napier Hunslet Engine Co. No. 855 of 1904; 0-4-0 tank. 1ft 10¾in gauge. Survives.
Skinner W.G. Bagnall No. 1766 of 1906; 0-4-0 saddle tank. Purchased 1929
Alan George Hunslet Engine Co. No. 606 of 1906; 0-4-0 saddle tank. Survives.
Pamela Hunslet Engine Co. No. 920 of 1906; 0-4-0 tank. 1ft 10¾in gauge. Survives.
Sybil Mary Hunslet Engine Co. No. 921 of 1906; 0-4-0 saddle tank.
George Sholto Hunslet Engine Co. No. 994 of 1909; 0-4-0 saddle tank.
Eigiau Orenstein & Koppel of 1912; 0-4-0 well tank. Purchased from Aluminium Corporation,
Dolgarrog in 1929. Survives.
Tregarth Baldwin Locomotive Works No. 46764; 2-6-2 tank. Ex WD. Purchased 1923.
Llandegai Baldwin Locomotive Works No. 47143; 2-6-2 tank. Ex WD. Purchased 1923.
Scrapped in 1940.
Bronllwyd Hudswell, Clarke & Co. No. 1643 of 1930; 0-6-0 well tank. Ex Surrey CC
Cegin Andrew Barclay & Sons No. 1991 of 1931; 0-4-0 well tank. Purchased 1934
Stanhope Kerr, Stuart and Co. No.2395 of 1917. 0-4-0 saddle tank. Purchased 1934.

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