Site of iron-ore ropeway terminal, Llanberis

Link to Welsh translationSite of iron-ore ropeway terminal, Llanberis

This tranquil spot beside Llyn Padarn was once a busy terminal where iron ore was transferred from an aerial ropeway to railway wagons. 

Photo of iron ore ropeway terminal near LlanberisIn 1907 Staffordshire ironmaster Sir Alfred Hickman (former MP for Wolverhampton) invested money to develop an old iron-ore mine near Betws Garmon. About 50 men were employed at the mine most years. The mine’s annual output was more than 10,000 tons in its most productive years.

Although a narrow-gauge railway connected Betws Garmon to the main railway network at Dinas (south of Caernarfon), Sir Alfred’s company built an aerial ropeway – similar to a cable car or chairlift – to carry the ore over Cefn Du to a railway siding near Llyn Padarn.

The photos show the tower where the buckets were emptied and turned round to return to the mine. Visible are one of the buckets and some of the company’s own railway hopper wagons, from which the ore was unloaded by opening doors in the floor.

Photo of iron ore ropeway terminal near LlanberisThe aerial ropeway was about 4.5km (3 miles) long. Built by Ropeways Ltd, it could carry 133 buckets per hour. 

One evening in 1908 a quarryman hitched a ride home to Llanberis in an empty bucket. He jumped in where the ropeway was close to the ground near Betws Garmon. He hadn’t reached Llanberis before the works’ night hooter sounded and the ropeway was switched off – leaving him to spend the night high up in the air! 

After a few successful years, too little iron ore remained within easy reach by 1913 to support the business and it was all closed down. The mine reopened temporarily in the First World War, when ore imports were disrupted. Along the ropeway’s route are the remains of some of the bases of towers which supported the ropeway. 

With thanks to Gareth Roberts of Menter Fachwen

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