Slate from North Wales

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Oxfordblues, 4 Sep 2019.

  1. Y Ddraig Coch

    Y Ddraig Coch Member

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    The waste now gets loaded onto rail at the Valley triangle I believe and goes down the North Wales coast mainline as the track for many years now has stopped at Blaenau Ffestiniog and the track to Traws has closed....but makes a lovely walk as I found out last summer.
     
  2. Y Ddraig Coch

    Y Ddraig Coch Member

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    I also came across an (old) interesting article of which I am sure some must still be valid.

    http://www.penmorfa.com/Conwy/waste.html

     
  3. hilly

    hilly Member

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    Nuclear waste at valley is from the wylfa power station not trawsfynydd
     
  4. krus_aragon

    krus_aragon Established Member

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    The rail route from Blaenau to Trawsfynydd remained open until the defuelling portion of decommissioning was complete there. That was completed by ~1993, from memory. The Valley triangle was only ever used for Wylfa's fuel. Incidentally, defuelling there is approaching completion too.

    In the days when both power stations were operational, the flask trains were combined at Llandudno Jn yard for onward travel to Cumbria.
     
  5. Y Ddraig Coch

    Y Ddraig Coch Member

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    Apologies for the mix up.
     
  6. CaptPablo

    CaptPablo New Member

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    There is an estimated 300-500 million tonnes of slate waste in North Wales so more than enough to keep everyone happy including exporters and tourists alike.

    The use of the Conwy Valley line to move slate waste out of Blaenau Ffestiniog is very sustainable and with innovative logistics can provide environmental protection whilst at the same time stimulating employment.

    i would envisage trains reversing at Llandudno Junction then by way of the Halton Curve accessing the older of Peel Ports 2 container terminals in Liverpool to load the slate waste onto bulk carriers.
     
  7. CaptPablo

    CaptPablo New Member

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    “Also nearby Penmaenmawr sidings are being refettled for new traffic for the Hanson Group apparently.“[/QUOTE]

    Anyone have any more news on this or where this nice rumour came from? I’m from Pen.
     
  8. Oxfordblues

    Oxfordblues Member

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    I started this thread on 6 September after reading this North Wales Coast Railway Notice Board: http://www.nwrail.org.uk/nw1909a.htm

    But I haven't heard anything since, so perhaps the report was a bit premature.
     
  9. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    Why would it go to Liverpool for export? Surely the idea would be to use it within the UK?
     
  10. pt_mad

    pt_mad Established Member

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    Do we know how Bleanau feels about the slate tips? It would be fascinating to know or have an idea?

    Just recently, now some greenery is growing on a lot of the tips, it is starting to look a lot more of a landscape than it did. I remember in the mid 1990s, when the roads weren't so well maintained and there was less tourism, that the place could appear very dark and bleak indeed. The tips having little greenery on them and on a foggy day it could feel like the end of the earth. Probably one of the contributing factors as to why the town hasn't been brought into the Snowdonia National Park, the whole thing forming a circle around the town.
    However in recent years with the opening of the slate mine to visitors and the zip lines, the slate itself does seem to have become much more of a point of interest.
    Whether the residents would rather see it brushed aside to make way for new industry or employment I don't know. Possibly if it meant a change to the face of the town? Then again heritage is important and tourism is growing.
    Hardto say.
     
  11. alex17595

    alex17595 Member

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    This was to allow the quarries to continue to develop freely.

    I know quite a few people to visit because of the Slate, me for one have made many visits because of it. I'm suprised it isn't more popular, I have never seen it busy like Betws-y-coed even though there is a few attractions worth visiting. The town centre is fairly nice as well - I think it was rebuilt some years ago.
     
  12. pt_mad

    pt_mad Established Member

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    Trouble is how many drive through to see the slate and drive straight out the other end? Which although a great topic of conversation doesn't create anything. As you say there has been some redevelopment in the town centre but still a lot of empty or badly maintained units and I believe the population has declined but correct me if I'm wrong.
    The tourist attraction slate mine is obviously going to do the most to create interest in the slate, but even then I have previously read that without the zips and trampolines the visitor mine in itself wouldn't have continued to be viable. Which speaks for itself in many ways.
     
  13. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    So , if the 300 million or so tons of slate waste was cleared , this would leave an 18thC pastoral hill / mountain side - akin to a great part of North Wales. Would this drive a major tourist / leisure inwards flow ? (assuming the present attractions of Llechwedd etc survive ?.

    The slate was tipped due to the cost limitation policies of the Victorian mine owners with scant regard for the environment , much as in South Wales where after Aberfan for tragic reasons , the tips were removed and part recycled (there was a lot of small coal in them for boring reasons I wont go into , but was very marketable).

    So unless there are (a) guaranteed markets for crushed slate waste (b) an affordable way of moving said waste to said market (unlikely in my view) , should the landscape be retained.? I don't know. I think we have been round this before though.
     
  14. Tomos y Tanc

    Tomos y Tanc Member

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    Blaenau has been in the National Park for almost a decade now. I think it was around 2011 that the ridiculous exclusion of Blaenau ended.

    https://www.snowdonia.gov.wales/visiting/places-to-visit/ffestiniog

    This had been discussed on another thread but Blaenau is definately on the up and is shortly due to be registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the highest UN designation of a place of historic and geographical importance. That's up there with Edward I's north Wales castles, the Taj Mahal and the Great Barrier Reif.

    As has happened in Blaenavon in south Wales this should lead to the sensitive development of the town with the residents interests in the forefront.

    You just need to loose your blinkers, do some research, and walk around the place to realise what an historic treasure it is. What will it take to stop the ill-informed sneers?
     
    Last edited: 15 Nov 2019
  15. pt_mad

    pt_mad Established Member

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    Looks like Wikipedia still hasn't been updated https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaenau_Ffestiniog :
     
  16. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    Wikipedia is NOT a definitive source.
     
  17. grumpyoldman01

    grumpyoldman01 Member

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    Slate has been despatched by rail from North Wales since the 1950s.

    There were (at least!) four sources of slate served by rail in North Wales, and all lasted into the 1960s; they were Blaenau Ffestiniog, Nantlle, Port Dinorwic, and Port Penrhyn. There were no connections between the Penryn Quarry and Bethesda station, nor between the Dinorwic Quarries and Llanberis station, and therefore (as a general rule) no slate would have been moved from those stations. Moreover, neither had the slate transshipment facilities found in Blaenau and Nantlle.

    Photos exist showing BR shunts at Port Dinorwic and Port Penrhyn in 1961. The last train on the Penrhyn Quarry "main line" between the quarry and the port ran on 27th July 1962, and it's reasonable to assume that the last slate was shipped by BR from the Port at about that time; circuit wagons were provided by BR specially for the transport of Penrhyn Quarry slate (these were marked up with something like "RETURN TO PORT PENRHYN, LMR"), and some could usually be seen from passing trains parked-up on the branch between the North Wales coast main line and Port Penrhyn. As the Padarn Railway (which linked the Llanberis quarries to Port Dinorwic) closed in late 1961, it's reasonable to assume that slate from Port Dinorwic also ceased at about the same time.

    From memory and what I've found by a quick "dig", I'm a bit confused regarding Blaenau Ffestiniog.

    I watched the connecting line built between the former LNWR and GWR stations at Blaenau; from memory, the standard gauge line was on the south side of the formation, and the narrow gauge remained on the north side. Moreover, a separate arch was constructed beneath the A496 road solely for use by narrow gauge slate trains accessing the North station yard from the Fotty & Bowydd/Duffws/etc quarries. Wikipedia states that the connection between the two former stations opened in 1964, but that seems a bit late to me; however, if it is correct, for BR to have constructed an overbridge to permit slate from the quarries to enter the yard by narrow gauge railway, there must still have been some slate traffic using the Conwy Valley branch at that time.

    I also recall seeing a narrow gauge slate train entering the yard at the north western corner on the link from the Oakley Quarry; I can't be specific on the date, but it must have been in the 1960-1964 period.

    According to Wikipedia, Blaenau Ffestiniog North closed to general freight in May 1964, but wagonload continued until 1982; again, I would have thought the 1964 date to be early, as it was usual to pass a local freight (usually hauled by an Ivatt class 2 2-6-2T) on a down-hill service when going up-hill on a morning DMU. There always also seemed to be a BR Thorneycroft lorry parked-up on the platform at North station at that time! Moreover, I've also found a photo of the branch freight at Betws-y-Coed in 1965, and this includes in the formation a shock wagon; these were often used to carry slate.

    Finally, Nantlle.

    Slate traffic from Nantlle also has the distinction of being the last use of horses on BR; (try this link to the Wikipedia entry for the Nantlle Railway which shows a horse-drawn slate train in 1959, and reference is also made in the entry to a demonstration being given as to how the horses were worked at the Festiniog Railway's Centenary of Steam celebration in 1963: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nantlle_Railway); however, the poor horse died right at the end of the railway's life, and it was replaced by a tractor by the time the narrow gauge portion closed in December 1963 and was also used for a railtour in October of the same year - see: https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5225/5551042268_18632765f9_b.jpg

    This slate traffic was handled in two parts; horses/a tractor pulled the slate on the narrow gauge section of the line between the quarries and Nantlle station, and then it was transshipped to standard gauge wagons for the rest of the branch to Pen-y-Groes, and then via Caernarfon to join the North Wales coast main line at Menai Bridge for onward transit to the ultimate destination. Therefore, it's reasonable to assume that slate from Nantlle continued until late in 1963. Every time I saw the Nantlle branch freight it was hauled by a Stanier '5' with the loco facing towards Nantlle.

    Finally, recovery of slate waste from the Blaenau tips for re-use.

    Some was removed in about 1980, crushed, and then used to raise the level of the land in Glanypwll, to the west of the A496 Pencefn Road; sorry I can't be more specific about the date, but it was certainly before the Festiniog Railway re-opened back to Blaenau (in 1982) as some of the old trackbed - adjacent to North Western Road - was used to transport the waste between the slate tips being recovered and the land were it was being "dumped".

    Obviously, most of this is from memory, but I have tried to validate what I remember from published sources wherever possible
     
  18. DaveB10780

    DaveB10780 Member

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    Nobody seems to have told the Ordnance Survey about this so I wonder where this statement is substantiated.
     
  19. Meerkat

    Meerkat Established Member

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    I did walk around the place this spring. It was grim due to the rain (I was told it is usually raining there, it wasn’t raining on the coast), but even without the rain it was just a fairly large village with a handful of shop along narrow pavements on a main road. Nothing looked welcoming so I grabbed a sandwich from the Co-op and went back to sit under the platform shelter.
    I had previously driven through ten years ago, and it looked liked somewhere you wanted to actively avoid stopping.
    And before I am accused of just being a bitter Englishman I really enjoyed the rest of my time in the area and intend to go back soon.
     
  20. Meerkat

    Meerkat Established Member

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  21. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    Agreed!

    @pt_mad Wikipedia requires its authors to provide a primary source. Rather than link to Wikipedia, I recommend linking to the primary source provided and quoting from that. If no primary source is provided then it's not worth referring to.
     
  22. krus_aragon

    krus_aragon Established Member

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    @grumpyoldman01 that looks like a fairly accurate summary, thanks. (Slate was of course transported by standard gauge rail before the 1950s too.)

    On your next visit, consider the Model Bakery across the road from the Co-op: as I mentioned upthread, it has both the usual village bakey fare and some kurdish specialities.
     
  23. Leeds1970

    Leeds1970 Member

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    Glan Conwy freight yard was provided to replace the facilities that were lost at Colwyn bay as part of the building of the A55. It consisted of a coal off loading point and an area for fuel tanks (home heating?), some redundant wagons (not many) were also stored and later cut up on the site.

    Looking from platform 4, the access line was via a long siding that passed under the right hand arch of the over bridge the loco off the Amlwch tanks was usually used to service the terminal. if slate waste was to run from that terminal the line would need to be completely renewed along with a couple of sidings at Llandudno junction to allow trains to be split /joined due to the limited room at the terminal if it is still there (or available to be used).

    Penmaenmawr as far as I am aware the issue was the actual quarry itself - if I remember correctly it was something to do with a lack of washing plant for the stone before being loaded. the sidings themselves were of sufficient length to handle 2x37 and a long rake of c.80 ton RMC wagons, which was a delight to see and hear at full power alongside the sea wall at Towyn.

    With regard to the Ffestiniog line previous posts are correct that it was initially spared closure to serve the power plant. However during the 1980s local BR managers based Chester put in considerable efforts to promote the line (and do tie ups with F.R) which did start to bear results but due to reorganisations and sectorisation, resulting in arms length remote management and stricter financial targets the rot started again..

    Arriva winning the franchise for Wales did not help the line (or the main line); as they were and still are the dominant bus operator, there was little incentive to operate the line when they could and regularly did just run a bus instead of a TRAIN..
     
  24. Belperpete

    Belperpete Member

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    But wasn't Penmaenmawr a granite quarry, not slate?
     
  25. krus_aragon

    krus_aragon Established Member

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    There was also a run-round at Conwy Quay sidings that helped with the logisitcs of getting trains in and out of the freight terminal, as I understand things.

    Though they found the bus service wasn't enough of a money spinner for them, and after a few years of jigging the timetable and routes around they stopped running bus services in the Conwy Valley three years ago.
     
  26. Leeds1970

    Leeds1970 Member

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    correct I was replying to more than one question - sorry for the confusion.
     
  27. Leeds1970

    Leeds1970 Member

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    the quay sdg,s was a single line from the main yard down to the quayside - access to this line from the down main were by way of a facing point onto the quay (very rare) and reverse into the yard or stop on the down main and reverse directly into the yard (usual practice). it was the track layout that gave the impression of a run round however there was no signalled route to allow quay - DM -yard (or reverse of)
     
  28. Belperpete

    Belperpete Member

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    Are you sure the overbridge was built by BR? I thought it was built when the new road to TanyGrisiau power station was built (going over that overbridge).
     
  29. StuartH

    StuartH Member

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    The terminal ground is currently used as a storage facility if its where I think it is. My contractor has the end V shaped bit nearest the line. It would take a lot of track renewal to bring it back into service.
     
  30. krus_aragon

    krus_aragon Established Member

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    I meant to suggest that there was a loop on (the approach to) the quay sidings, as opposed to the quay sidings forming a loop with the down main. I will however yeild to your recollections of how it was actually used. (Did trains leaving the yard to head toward Chester propel out onto the up line, or run around in the station, rather than shunt via the quay sidings?)
     

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