Dolgarrog water pipelines
These large pipes carry water from the Carneddau mountains to the hydro-electric power station on the east side of the main road. The photo, courtesy of the Conwy Archive Service, shows the pipeline and the adjacent railway incline (described below).
In 1906 the Aluminium Corporation Ltd chose the hamlet of Porth Llwyd as the site for an aluminium smelting plant. The corporation built the Eigiau, Coedty and Cowlyd dams in the uplands to the west. The water they held provided the cheap electricity needed for the aluminium furnaces.
The factory commenced production in 1908. The hamlet was expanded and renamed Dolgarrog. There was a hiatus in 1925 when the Coedty dam collapsed, flooding the village (click here to read this story). Ten adults and six children lost their lives.
The factory was the main employer in the Conwy Valley for nearly a century. During the Second World War, the factory began to specialise in aluminium for aircraft. In this capacity it was so important to the war effort that an army unit was based there with anti-aircraft guns. The aviation industry took a knock after the terrorist attacks on New York on 11 September 2001, and the factory’s owner proposed closure with the loss of 189 jobs. The management bought the factory and operated it for another six years, until administrators were called in. In its last year, the factory had a turnover of £19m and employed 170 people.
The hydro power station continues to feed electricity into the National Grid. The twin pipelines now carry independent flows of water to the power station from Llyn Cowlyd and Llyn Coedty.
A little to the south are the remains of an inclined railway, parallel to the pipeline route. Railways connected quarries and mines in the uplands to the head of the incline, where the weight of the descending laden wagons hauled empty wagons upwards on the parallel track, via a cable which passed through a winding house at the top.
The photo shows a steam locomotive being lowered down the incline, using cables, in 1911 after completing its work in connection with the Eigiau dam construction.
With thanks to John Lawson-Reay
Postcode: LL32 8JU View Location Map