Mine Exploration – Penarth Slate Mine

Martin - happy at being a lighthouse in the mine

Martin – happy at being a lighthouse in the mine

On Friday, I was out with my friend and fellow outdoor instructor Martin Digby for a Professional Development Day or play day as my wife likes to call it. We have quite a few adventures in the past with these days which as seen as mountain biking, canoeing and scrambling. As I’m working towards my Local Cave & Mine Leader Award we opted for a bit mine exploration.

Our venue for the trip was to be Penarth Slate Mine near Corwen, which was first opened in 1826 and finally stopped production in 1910. We parked in a layby on the A5 and made the short walk up to the spoil heap and the old work buildings to locate the quarry and the entrance to the mine on middle level. Once inside we had a good explore of the West Vein and East Vein workings with our ultimate aim to see the caban in the East Vein Workings. This was straight forward enough to locate but in comparison with the ones in Cwmorthin was a bit of a let down. However, by now, Martin had become quite comfortable with the scaled plan of the map and was keen to explore the older Low Level workings. We did this in record time and in good spirits. As time was pressing on we reluctantly climbed back up to the middle level via  a spoil heap in West Vein and made our way back to the cave entrance.

A lovely day out exploring this mine all that now remains to be done is discover a little more about its history and perhaps a return visit with the little one. To see a few more pictures of the trip please click here.

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1 Response to Mine Exploration – Penarth Slate Mine

  1. Rick says:


    Thank you for posting on my blog,

    Unfortunately, Penarth Mine is one site that I have found it very difficult to get information on (at least from the internet). However, the information that I have found is given below.

    History of Penarth Mine
    The early workings were ‘open’ but underground levels were worked later on.

    1868 – there were 150 men employed

    1883 – there were only 10 men employed working an annual output of about 500 tons.

    The main ‘tramway’ was in use by 1868 and was 2′ 0″ gauge, worked on the balance incline mode, single track with a passing loop at the half way point.

    1890 – work ceased

    1890 – work recommenced when a small water powered mill was opened on the exchange wharf near the foot of the incline. This was fed by a dam constructed along-side and to the west of the passing loop.

    By the 1900’s the quarry was in the hands of the ‘Corwen Slate Quarry Co’ and output had risen to 1700 tons. A new mill was built at the quarry in 1904 powered by a 12hp Blackstone oil engine and in 1909 a Hornsby 40 hp gas engine was employed to “supply forced air”, also, an unusual large reciprocating oil engine shot-saw regarded as a rarity in Welsh slate mining.
    With the installation of the internal combustion engines additional workings for the tramway wagons were to haul fuel up to the quarry.

    By the 1930’s only slab slate was produced.

    Surface Buildings
    Many buildings remain in various stages of dilapidation. These include dressing sheds, a mill containing remnants of overhead shafting etc and a motor room. Traces of sand saw installations can be seen in places, including discarded blades and the associated drainage. Remains of the shot saw installation are clearly visible, together with machinery mounting plinths and saw carriage. Other artefacts include a compressed gas or air cylinder, piping, a partially buried vessel and remains of a number of wagons and rail.

    I hope this helps.


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