Pen-yr-Orsedd quarry

Pen-yr-Orsedd quarry was a slate quarry in the Nantlle Valley in North Wales. It was one of the last slate quarries operating in North Wales and the last operating in the Nantlle Valley area, finally closing in 1979.

"Blondin" aerial cableways at Pen-yr-Orsedd in 2002
Map of Gwynedd showing the position of the quarry
Map of Gwynedd showing the position of the quarry
Location in Gwynedd
Locationnear Nantlle
CountyCarnarvonshire (now Gwynedd)
CountryWales, UK
Coordinates53°3′38″N 4°13′37″W / 53.06056°N 4.22694°W / 53.06056; -4.22694Coordinates: 53°3′38″N 4°13′37″W / 53.06056°N 4.22694°W / 53.06056; -4.22694
SH 508 538
Closed1979 (1979)
Track gauge2 ft (610 mm);
3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)


Pen-yr-Orsedd opened in 1816, owned by William Turner who was also the owner of the nearby Dorothea quarry and the Diphwys Casson quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog. It was acquired on 1854 by John Lloyd Jones who sold it on to the Darbishire Company, owners of the Penmaenmawr granite quarries, in 1862. The new owners invested £20,000 (equivalent to £1,923,077 in 2016) to expand the quarry, though with limited results; by 1871 the quarry was producing just 500 tons per year. William Darbishire took over direct management of the quarry that year and by 1882 had raised production to almost 8,000 tons.[1]

Pen-yr-Orsedd was one of the major slate producers of the Nantlle Valley. It was the last of the Nantlle quarries to commercially produce slate, closing in 1979.

Narrow-gauge railway museumEdit

Railway enthusiast Rich Morris began collecting narrow gauge rolling stock in 1963,[2] storing many at his home in Longfield in Kent.[3] As the collection grew he sought a more permanent arrangement and in 1976, he came to an agreement with the Festiniog Slate Group to move many of his locomotives to Pen-yr-Orsedd, where he planned to set up a museum to exhibit his collection and tell the story of narrow gauge industrial railways.[2]

With the closure of Pen-yr-Orsedd, The Festiniog Group offered Morris space for his collection at their largest quarry, Oakeley. Morris' collection was moved there in May 1978. Further collections were brought to Oakeley and the Narrow Gauge Railway Centre was opened in the Gloddfa Ganol tourist attraction.


In 1862 the quarry was connected to the Nantlle Railway, with 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) narrow gauge lines extended to all but the highest levels of the quarry. Most levels of the quarry had both 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge and 2 ft (610 mm) gauge trackwork, many with mixed gauge tracks. The Nantlle Railway connection was used up until 1963, while the internal 2 ft (610 mm) gauge lines continued in limited use until the end of quarrying.


Name Builder Type Works number Date Notes
Baladeulyn De Winton 0-4-0VB Sold to Glynrhonwy Slate Quarry in 1895
Starstone De Winton 0-4-0VB Thought to be sold to Glynrhonwy Slate Quarry in 1894 where it was renamed Padarn.
Inverlochy De Winton 0-4-0VB 1877 Possible ex-Pen-y-Bryn Quarry. Scrapped 1937.
Glynllifon De Winton 0-4-0VB 1880 Scrapped 1937
Rhymney De Winton 0-4-0VB 1875 Scrapped before 1932[4]
Chaloner De Winton 0-4-0VB 1877 Sold to a private collector 1960; now preserved at the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway.
Gelli De Winton 0-4-0VB 1893 Withdrawn 1945, still intact at quarry 1952; believed scrapped
Pendyffryn De Winton 0-4-0VB 1894 Sold 1965, now restored to working order at the Brecon Mountain Railway
Arthur De Winton 0-4-0VB 1895 Scrapped 1956
Victoria De Winton 0-4-0VB 1898[4] Scrapped 1956
Kelso Vulcan Foundry 0-4-0VB 1893 Withdrawn 1945, still intact at quarry 1952; believed scrapped
Britomart Hunslet 0-4-0ST 707 1899 Sold in 1965, now privately owned and running on the Ffestiniog Railway
Sybil Hunslet 0-4-0ST 827 1903 Sold in 1965, now privately owned, and restored to working order at the Brecon Mountain Railway alongside Pendyffryn
Una Hunslet 0-4-0ST 873 1905 Sold in 1963. Now in working order at the Welsh Slate Museum, Llanberis
Diana Kerr Stuart 0-4-0T 1158 1909 ex-Oakeley Slate Quarry, Blaenau Ffestiniog.[5] Privately owned, and based in 2018 on the Amerton Railway
No. 1 Ruston & Hornsby 4wDM 235712 1945 20DL. Out of use in 1972.[6]
No. 1 Ruston & Hornsby 4wDM 226298 1945 20DL. Out of use in 1972.[6]
No. 2 Ruston & Hornsby 4wDM 235711 1945
No. 3 Ruston & Hornsby 4wDM 226298 1943
No. 4 Ruston & Hornsby 4wDM 226264 1943 20DL. Out-of-use in the top level of the quarry in 1972.[6]
4wPM Sold or scrapped

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lindsay, Jean (1974). A history of the North Wales slate industry. David & Charles.
  2. ^ a b Swift, Mike. "Twenty Five Years of Narrow Gauge Preservation". The Narrow Gauge (73). The Narrow Gauge Railway Society.
  3. ^ Quine, Dan (February 2017). "A history of Baguley 774". Talyllyn News.
  4. ^ a b "The Penyrorsedd Stand at the Olympia Exhibition, 1928". Gwynedd Archives, ID: XS/1245/29. Caernarfon Record Office.
  5. ^ Quine, Dan (March 2015). "Private railways of the West Midlands in the 1960s". Narrow Gauge World.
  6. ^ a b c "Pen-yr-orsedd Slate Quarry Co. Ltd" (PDF). Narrow Gauge News (80). The Narrow Gauge Railway Society. December 1972.
  • Boyd, James I.C. (1990). Narrow Gauge Railways in North Caernarvonshire, Volume 1: The West (2nd. ed.). The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-273-0.