Pentrefelin wharf, near Llangollen

button-theme-canalSlate was loaded into canal boats west of bridge 48. The slate came from quarries in the hills north of here, near the Horseshoe Pass.

This section of the canal opened to traffic in the early 19th century. Initially slate was carried here by road. In the early 1850s a tramway was opened from the quarries to the wharf, enabling horses to haul heavier loads. You can see a surviving tramway embankment from Pentrefelin aqueduct.

The tramway crossed the canal at the western end of the wharf. A tramway track continued eastwards beyond bridge 48 to the basin (a wide section of canal) at Tŷ-Du – near what’s now the Llangollen Railway depot.

Some of the slate went to the Pentrefelin slate and slab works just below the wharf (now home to Llangollen Motor Museum). There it was sawn and planed. Finished articles were still being taken up to the wharf for dispatch in 1877, long after the factory was connected to the rail network.

In May 1877 assistant foreman John Williams was fatally injured while supervising loading of two slabs into a boat using the wharf’s travelling crane. He stood under the crane’s beam, using his right hand to steer the suspended load towards the boat. The beam broke and fell on him. The three men on the crane were thrown off. John was taken to the cottage hospital but died there a few days later.

Evidence from his inquest gives us an insight into how Pentrefelin wharf operated. The crane was normally used for two to three hours every other day. There was also a smaller crane, on which birds nested! The larger crane had been used to lift more than a ton at a time. Works manager Captain John Paull said the two slabs were light enough to have been loaded by hand but the men had used the crane as it was available. The break had occurred where a new piece of timber had been spliced to an older one c.10 years earlier.

Postcode: LL20 8EE    View Location Map

Canal & River Trust website – Llangollen Canal

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