Llechwedd Slate Quarry cavern
To the North East of Blaenau Ffestiniog is the Llechwedd Slate Quarry, still a working quarry, it was opened as a tourist attraction with guided tours in 1972.
This is one of the Quarry caverns, of which there are very many. The side has now collapsed as the quarry moved from being mined to open cast working. Originally this would have been fully enclosed.
Each cavern would be about thirty foot wide and perhaps forty foot high. Four men would work this cavern, twelve hours a day, six days a week for perhaps up to thirty years or more before it was worked out. All by hand and in the dim light of candles. Using hand drills and black powder explosives slate would be blasted from the walls and broken up into manageable pieces for transport to the splitting shop above the mine. There it would be split and cut into standard size roofing slates for transport around the world.
One cavern could be a life-times work for some miners. Starting work at the age of twelve, they would work for about forty years underground, with an average life expectancy of about 52 in Victorian times.
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