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Vivian Slate Quarry

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Map ReferenceSH56SE
Grid ReferenceSH5860060530
Unitary (Local) AuthorityGwynedd
Old CountyCaernarfonshire
PeriodPost Medieval
Vivian Slate Quarry is part of the Dinorwic Slate quarries, forming part of the extensive Vaynol Estate that were worked by Thomas Assheton Smith from 1787. Like the other workings at Dinorwic, it was worked on a gallery system whereby the slate was taken from stepped working levels cut into the hillside at intervals of approximately 60', with the bottom level cut into the ground. From this bottom level loaded wagon had to be hauled up to ground level by rope, while the galleries were served by a series of gravity assisted railed incline planes, whereby the loaded wagons going downhill pulled up the empty wagons. The V2 incline was a transporter incline, in which the wagons were carried on wedge-shaped travellers on broader gauge rails.

The lowest gallery at Vivian was open by 1873, but the upper workings are not shown on a plan of that year. A valuation of 1877 refers to the Vivian 1 tank incline and the Vivian 2 tank incline, since V1 is not a tank but a conventional incline they are probably numbered from the levels they served. A date of 1873-77 is indicated for the construction of the V2 incline. This valuation also states that the bridge at the base of the V2 incline was worth £100, this taking the blocks from the quarry across the 4' gauge quarry railway to Y Felinheli to tips in the lake. This appears, from historic photographs, to have been timber, later replaced by an iron bridge.

The 1889 25" Ordnance Survey Map show inclines V1 to V5 in place, the 1900 edition showing V1 to V7. In 1900 a railway was completed from the summit of V2 to a high-level tip near the quarry hospital to the north, crossing the Padarn railway on a substantial slate built arch. This rendered the iron bridge at the base redundant and it was demolished by 1914. The wooden travellers were replaced by steel ones, possibly in 1904 when the yard book records the purchase of "two double plates, red paint, rivets, bolts and bar iron".

The Vivian Quarry operated as a separate section of the main Dinorwic Quarry. The galleries, inclines and rows of gwaliau, where the men hand-split and trimmed the slates, have been preserved as part of Padarn Country Park. Since 1960 when the quarry was last worked, run off and underwater springs have filled it with water that is up to eighteen metres deep. The lake is used as the Vivian Diving Centre, allowing divers to explore submerged remains of the working quarry that includes buildings and vehicles.

Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust report No. 259
David Gwyn & Merfyn Williams (1996) `A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of North West Wales?. Association for Industrial Archaeology

S. Fielding, RCAHMW, 15 July 2005 (edited 3 November 2011)
application/postscriptWSP - Welsh Slate Publication Collection
application/postscriptWSP - Welsh Slate Publication Collection