Remains of Rosebush slate quarry


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The footpath north from Rosebush village passes the remains of Pembrokeshire’s largest slate quarry. Galleries and heaps of waste rock are clearly visible. Slate was lowered from the upper levels along a railway incline. A short tunnel led to the lower levels. Immediately beyond the quarry site are the less distinct remains of Bellstone slate quarry.

Rosebush quarry was described as “celebrated and profitable” when it and 67 acres of land were auctioned in 1835. The quarry was expanded by entrepreneur Edward Cropper, a London & North Western Railway director.

He also built the Maenclochog Railway, a 13km (eight-mile) line from Rosebush quarry to the Great Western Railway at Clunderwen. The railway opened in 1876, primarily to transport slate and slabs from several local quarries. It allowed Rosebush slates to be carried to urban areas in greater volume then before. The quarry was reequipped for increased production. Building the railway and upgrading the quarry cost c.£130,000. An hotel, now known as Tafarn Sinc, was built beside Rosebush’s new station.

Edward was supported by Sir Hugh Owen of Goodwick, owner of Bellstone quarry. Joseph Macaulay, Edward’s stepson, managed the quarry and railway. In 1875 Joseph provided the venue for a concert in Rosebush in aid of the Pembrokeshire & Haverfordwest Infirmary. He presided over the concert and sang a solo.

At the railway’s opening ceremony in September 1876, banners wished “Long life to Mr and Mrs Cropper and Mr and Mrs Macaulay”, but Edward died soon after. The railway closed at the end of 1882. When it and Rosebush quarry were auctioned in 1889, the local supply of slate was “believed to be inexhaustible”. They were bought by Colonel Joseph Okell, who extended the railway towards Letterston and brought in a new locomotive named Margaret, now preserved at Scolton Manor. New embankments were made using slate ballast from Rosebush before Joseph went bankrupt in 1896.

In 1899 the railway was extended into Goodwick, near Fishguard harbour – as Edward had envisaged. By then Rosebush quarry was in decline. It had temporarily closed by 1908, when a relative of Sir Hugh Owen bought the Rosebush estate, including the quarry, village and station. Quarrying ceased for good in 1914.

Postcode: SA66 7QX    View Location Map