Ruins of slate mill, Dinorwig quarry

Link to Welsh translationRuins of slate mill, Dinorwig quarry

Old photo of Dinorwig quarrymen splitting slate
Men splitting slates at Dinorwig Quarry © Gwynedd Archives Service

This building was known as Mill No.3. It opened in 1927 and was designed for sawing, splitting and dressing roof slates. An earlier slate mill dating from 1848 once stood in roughly the same spot. The first sawing tables arrived in 1849 and were powered by steam engine.

Until 1970 another mill used to stand slightly south east of here. It was named Ffiar Injan or Fire Engine after the steam engine that powered it. The engine was made by Davy Brothers of Sheffield to power the mill at A4 level. Slate was moved using a network of tramways, including inclines which connected different levels. The ‘A’ inclines connected together the levels on this side of the quarry. A4 was the fourth incline in a series of ten.

Electricity came to Dinorwig in 1905 with the installation of overhead electricity lines, which were connected in 1906. Although powered machinery helped with some tasks, many jobs still had to be done by hand.

Old photo of Dinorwig quarryman at work
Dinorwig quarryman using a hammer and
wedge to reduce the size of a slate slab.
© Gwynedd Archives Service

Also in this area was the Ffiar Injan Caban, which could hold around 200-300 men. Dinorwig was not only a site of heavy industry but also a centre of social, cultural and intellectual activity.

Hard work took place in the slate mill but its Caban was a space for rest and reflection. The workers could spend their breaks here. It was not purely functional. The Caban was also an important space for discussing weighty subjects like politics, religion and poetry. Welsh slate workers were known to be great thinkers and keen readers.

Eisteddfod is the name given to the Welsh festival of poetry, music and performance. Eisteddfodau were held at Dinorwig throughout the quarry’s history. The Ffiar Injan Caban hosted an excellent eisteddfod in 1937 and a three-day festival in 1938. The Chairing of the Bard announces the winner of the awdl competition. An awdl is a long poem on a single end-rhyme. The 1938 Dinorwig Eisteddfod chair was inscribed Eisteddfod Gadeiriol Caban Mills, 1938. This chair is now held in the National Slate Museum collections.

View Location Map