Plas Tan y Bwlch

Public Courses, Plas Tan y Bwlch

Plas Tan y Bwlch

Slate: In the Beginning

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Course Number: L0202

Date: 16 February to 21 February 2020

Price: £518-£568

Course Leader/s:

Richard Williams


Most of the programme will entail walking in the mountains over rough, exposed, and occasionally steep terrain; including walks of lengthy duration. Course members should come prepared for this though average fitness should suffice. Members are reminded that extreme care needs to be taken when walking on slate tips, mine waste and sheep droppings, especially in damp or wet conditions. Stout walking boots with good grip, warm clothing, and waterproof jacket and trousers are all essential.

Inevitably the programme is at the mercy of the weather and the course itinerary will almost certainly be subject to alteration, at short notice, due to adverse weather conditions.

Limited underground exploration is possible this year. Therefore, course members are advised to bring a good quality torch (plus extra if possible) with fresh batteries plus a helmet and a pair of gloves as a matter of course. (Plas Tan-y-Bwlch has a very limited supply of helmets). Please see attached Risk Assessment.

Richard Williams is the authority on the slate industry of North East Wales and Dinas Mawddwy, or so he tells himself. Dr David Gwyn is a professional industrial archaeologist and heritage consultant of some repute. He is the author of several studies in industrial-era and post-Medieval archaeology, and in 2015 his major study of the Welsh slate industry “Welsh Slate” or “Llechi Cymru” was published by the Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments of Wales; it is essential reading. He was appointed a Trustee of the Festiniog Railway Company in 2016 and is currently the Chairman of the Bala Lake Railway Company.

Jon Knowles is an engineering consultant and well-known slate and metal mining explorer with a reputation for quality underground photography. Jon is also the expert on the history and archaeology of the Aberllefenni slate quarry.


Sunday, February 16th
4.30 – 5.30pm Arrival and registration
6.30pm Dinner
7.30pm Penarth Slate Quarry – Richard Williams

Monday, February 17th
DAY Penarth Slate Quarry, Corwen
EVENING The Penrhyn Railroad of 1801 – Dr David Gwyn

Tuesday, February 18th
DAY The Penrhyn Railroad and early Ogwen Valley slate quarrying – with Dr David Gwyn
EVENING The slate industry of Britain and continental Europe from the Roman Empire to the eighteenth century – Dr David Gwyn

Wednesday, February 19th
DAY Clogwyn-y-Fuwch & Crafnant Slate Quarries, Trefriw
EVENING Snippets☺ – Members contributions & Richard Williams

Thursday, February 20th
DAY Destination to be confirmed
EVENING Underground in the Corris Slate District– Jon Knowles

Friday, February 21st
DAY Dffwys Slate Quarry, Blaenau Ffestiniog*
2.00pm Departure (approximate)

# The course programme order is merely indicative and will almost certainly change during the week due to weather conditions and other reasons outside the control of the Course Tutor.

☺ Course members are invited to bring their own slides, dvds or videos for presentation during this evening; provided there is an industrial archaeological connection, of course!

Course members are requested to familiarise themselves with the attached Risk Assessment, especially the section concerning underground exploration.

*Under the supervision of Jon Knowles, courtesy of J. W. Greaves & Sons Ltd.