Former slate workshops, Pentrefelin, Llangollen

Former slate workshops, Pentrefelin, Llangollen

Llangollen Motor Museum occupies the former Pentrefelin slate and slab works. It’s just below the former canal wharf, where slate once arrived on a tramroad from quarries to the north.

Only a small percentage of Welsh slate was suitable for roofing. Other uses included tablets for schoolchildren to learn to write, billiard tables and gravestones. The Pentrefelin works had a weir across the river Dee and a short mill leat into the premises. The works were described as “very extensive” when auctioned in 1867. Output temporarily dropped during a drought in summer 1868.

In the 1860s a railway track was installed alongside the canal towpath, at a lower level, to connect the works to the rail network. The track passed the sidings where the Llangollen Railway now stores rolling stock. The slate works was still dispatching goods by canal in 1877, when a worker was accidentally killed while loading slabs at the wharf.

From c.1855 to 1882 the works and slate quarries of the Llangollen Slab & Slate Company were managed by Captain John Paull, of Pentrefelin House. That was also home to his nephew, John Littlejohns, the assistant manager and yard supervisor.

John Paull was a founder of Llangollen’s English-language Methodist chapel, where his daughter Emily played the harmonium (a simple form of organ). On his death in 1882, the press remarked that he never put profits before his workers’ welfare as trade fluctuated, and he gave employees food or clothes at difficult times. He was buried at Llantysilio churchyard alongside his son William, who had died in 1872.

By 1893 the works had been closed “for a considerable time”. The site’s later uses included manufacture of fountain pens before it became the motor museum, where the exhibits include Britain’s oldest motor-drawn caravan and two early Triumph motorcycles.

Also on display is a 1925 Citroën delivery van, which was probably hidden in a French barn for most of the Second World War to prevent theft by occupying Nazis. When restoring it in 2007, museum owner Gwilym Owen found hidden inside the lining a British cigarette packet and a French banknote on which D-Day landings’ date was written. It’s thought both items were part of a survival kit issued to an Allied soldier who took part in the invasion at Normandy.

Postcode: LL20 8EE    View Location Map

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