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Aberllefenni Quarry

Aberllefenni Quarry in Gwynedd was the last working slate mine south of Blaenau Ffestiniog and over the years, thousands of men worked there. The Aberllefenni quarry consisted of three quarries ā€“ Foel Grochan, Hen Gloddfa and Cenuant Ddu, technically mines rather than quarries as all rock extraction took place underground. It is believed that mining in this valley, Cwm Hengae (west of the village of Aberllefenni), dates back to the fourteenth century, whilst the earliest confirmed date of operating is 1500; it is known that slates on the roof of Plas Aberllefeni came from the quarry for example.
When the quarry was at its most productive, a gentleman called Robert Hughes was appointed as quarry manager in 1873, and that year, 180 men were employed by him. The quarry survived the recession in the 1930s although the working week was cut to three days during this period. The slate industry deteriorated further after the Second World War and by 1950 only about 40 men were employed at the quarry. Following rapid modernization and investment in new machinery, work at Foel Grochan quarry continued to produce slate well into the 1990's. The slate excavated at Aberllefenni was deep blue and extremely hard and it was probably due to the excellent qualtiy of this slate ā€“ excavated from very narrow veins ā€“ that the quarry was able to survive for so long.
Work at the quarry ceased in 2003, as extracting the slate was no longer economical, and when the quarry closed only three men worked there. This collection of photographs by Ray Gunn includes pictures which document the last week of underground operations at this quarry, with the last three men ever to work down there: Philip Evans (foreman), Glyn Davies and Idris Lewis.

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