You are here:  >   >   > 

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

Slate Industry collections

Curator : Cadi Iolen BA, MA

[image: Gilfach Ddu workshops, now the National Slate Museum]

Gilfach Ddu workshops, now the National Slate Museum

[image: Quarrymen splitting and dressing slate at Dinorwig, 1921]

Quarrymen splitting and dressing slate at Dinorwig, 1921

The National Slate Museum is located at Gilfach Ddu - Dinorwig Quarry’s former repair and maintenance workshops. These workshops catered for all the repair and maintenance work demanded by the quarry, everything from repairing steam engines to building wagons to carry slates. As a result it would appear that the Slate Museum’s collection is dominated by large machinery, but there is much more to the collection of over 8,000 objects, documents and photographs.

The National Slate Museum’s collection can be divided into three separate categories:

  • The core element of the collection is the objects that were on the site when the Museum was established i.e. the original fixtures and fittings of Gilfach Ddu, such as the water wheel and the Pelton wheel, and the machines in the workshops.

    These are the objects that give the Museum its air of authenticity and which inspired people such as Hugh Richard Jones (Dinorwig Quarry’s last Chief Engineer) back in 1969 to establish a museum in Gilfach Ddu.

  • [image: Water wheel, used to run machinery]

    Water wheel, used to run machinery

    [image: Original machinery, fitting shop]

    Original machinery, fitting shop

  • The second category of objects forming the collection relates to those collected over the years by the Museum staff. These objects build on the core collection because they come from various districts of Wales, reflecting the importance of the industry throughout Wales. These objects are very diverse, for example, Una, the steam engine which originally operated in Penyrorsedd Quarry, Dyffryn Nantlle, or the ‘Smith Rodley’ excavating machine from D?r Oer Quarry, Blaenau Ffestiniog. This category also includes a representative collection of small tools and equipment used by quarrymen such as chisels and trimming knives.

  • [image: Una (stem engine)]

    Una (stem engine)

    [image: Smith Rodley excavator]

    Smith Rodley excavator

    [image: A wide-bladed slate splitting chisel (cŷn manhollt), used to split roofing slates out of a block of slates]

    A wide-bladed slate splitting chisel (cŷn manhollt), used to split roofing slates out of a block of slates

  • The third category of objects forming the collection is those objects used to furnish Fron Haul — a row of four quarrymen’s houses moved stone by stone to the Museum from Tanygrisiau - and the Engineer’s House.

    These objects are very varied as the houses have been furnished to reflect different periods and locations:



    • No. 3 Fron Haul - 1861, Tanygrisiau - the golden age of the slate industry;
    • No. 2 Fron Haul - 1901, Bethesda — the Penrhyn Strike;
    • No. 1 Fron Haul - 1969, Llanberis — Dinorwig Quarry closes;
    • Engineer’s House - 1911, Gilfach Ddu, Llanberis.
    •  

      [image: Fron Haul quarrymen´┐Żs cottages]

      Fron Haul quarrymen's cottages

      [image: Interior of 1901 house]

      Interior of 1901 house

      See also >> Researching the Welsh slate industry

  • National Museum Cardiff

    [image: National Museum Cardiff]

    Discover art, natural history and geology. With a busy programme of exhibitions and events, we have something to amaze everyone, whatever your interest – and admission is free!

  • St Fagans National History Museum

    [image: St Fagans]

    St Fagans is one of Europe's foremost open-air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction.

  • Big Pit National Coal Museum

    [image: Big Pit]

    Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain's leading mining museums. With facilities to educate and entertain all ages, Big Pit is an exciting and informative day out.

  • National Wool Museum

    [image: National Wool Museum]

    Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell.

  • National Roman Legion Museum

    [image: National Roman Legion Museum]

    In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. Today at the National Roman Legion Museum you can learn what made the Romans a formidable force and how life wouldn't be the same without them.

  • National Slate Museum

    [image: National Slate Museum]

    The National Slate Museum offers a day full of enjoyment and education in a dramatically beautiful landscape on the shores of Llyn Padarn.

  • National Waterfront Museum

    [image: National Waterfront Museum]

    The National Waterfront Museum at Swansea tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years.

  • Rhagor: Explore our collections

    Rhagor (Welsh for ‘more’) offers unprecedented access to the amazing stories that lie behind our collections.