Researching the Welsh slate industry

Are you interested in the history of the Slate Industry?

If you have an interest in any aspect of the slate industry in Wales, but are unsure where to start looking, the National Slate Museum can help. Here is a short list of the resources available:

Gwynedd Archive Service (Caernarfon branch),
Council Offices,
LL55 1SH
01286 679095

Holding documentation relating to Dinorwig Quarry; Dorothea Quarry; Penrhyn Quarry; Penyrorsedd Quarry; Castell Quarry, Plasgwynant, Beddgelert; documentation relating to the Great Strike at Penrhyn Quarry; a collection of documents that belonged to the poet W. J. Parry; the North Wales Slate Quarry Museum collections; and a collection of documents from the Union of North Wales Quarrymen.

University of Wales Bangor Archives
Department of Manuscripts,
The Main Library,
University of Wales Bangor,
Gwynedd. LL57 2DG
01248 38296

The Archives and Manuscripts department is located within the University of Wales Bangor Library. This department holds two collections of archive documents relating to the slate industry, namely the Penrhyn Castle collection, and the Penrhyn Castle correspondence collection – Quarry Strike.

Gwynedd Archive Service (Meirionnydd branch, Dolgellau)
Bala Road,
Gwynedd. LL40 2YF
01341 424 682

Holding documents from Llechwedd Quarry; Oakeley Quarry; as well as the Foty and Bowydd Quarries.

Pembrokeshire Record Office,
The Castle,
SA61 2EF
01437 763707

Archive material relating to the slate industy in south-west Wales (and specifically Pembrokeshire)

The Denbighshire Archive
Denbighshire Record Office,
46 Clwyd Street, Rhuthun,
Denbighshire. LL15 1HP
01824 708250

For information regarding quarries in north-east Wales


Books are one of the most valuable resources to anyone researching any aspect of the slate industry’s history. Generally, it’s possible to categorise books on the slate industry as follows:

  • General history of the industry e.g. Lindsay, J., A History of the North Wales Slate Industry, 1974;
  • History of specific quarries e.g. Carrington, D. C., Delving in Dinorwig, 1994;
  • Geology of the rock e.g. North, F. J., The Slates of Wales, 1925;
  • Recounting the memories and reflections of former quarrymen and others involved with the industry e.g. Evans, J. D., Myfyrion Hen Chwarelwyr, 1978;
  • Transport linked to the slate industry e. g. Richards, A. J., The Slate Regions of North and Mid Wales and their Railways, 1999;
  • Photographs of quarries e.g. Napier, J., Rhosydd – golwg bersonol, 1999;
  • Fictional novels located in, or based on slate mining communities e.g. Hughes, T. R., Chwalfa.

Research Papers

Research papers written by authors for MA, MPhil and PhD degrees are a valuable and thorough source of information on specific aspects of the history of the slate industry. These essays are available at the University where the author was studying at the time. The following is a brief selection of these essays:

  • Davies, G., Bethesda: the growth and development of a slate quarrying town, 1826-90 , Aberystwyth , 1985.
  • Ellis, G., A History of the Slate Quarrymen in Caernarvonshire in the Nineteenth Century , Bangor , 1931.
  • Jones, B., Geirfa’r Chwarel , Bangor , 1994.
  • Jones, G. A., Y Gymdeithas Chwarelyddol yng Ngwaith Kate Roberts a T. Rowland Hughes , Aberystwyth , 2000.
  • Jones, G. P., The economics and technological development of the slate quarrying industry in the Nantlle Valley, Gwynedd , Bangor , 1996.
  • Jones, J. G., The Social and Historical Geography of the Ffestiniog Slate Industry , Aberystwyth , 1959.
  • Pritchard, D., The Slate Industry of North Wales: a study of the changes in economic organisation from 1780 to the present day, Bangor , 1935.
  • Richards, W. M., A General Survey of the Slate Industry of Caernarvonshire and Meirionethshire , Lerpwl , 1933.
  • Roberts, D., The Slate Quarrying Communities of Caernarfonshire and Meirioneth, 1911-1939 , Aberystwyth , 1982.
  • Sutherland, M. W., ‘Angyles y Cartref’: Golwg ar fywyd Gwragedd yn ardaloedd chwareli llechi Sir Gaernarfon , Caerdydd , 1997.


    A website providing general information on the Welsh Slate Industry, including some details of the museum’s collection.
    This website is known as ‘Slatesite’. It contains historical information about the slate industry under the headings ‘industry’, ‘communities’, ‘slate’, and ‘art’; as well as over one hundred archival photographs, and references to other related websites. The website was formed with the assistance of the Gwynedd Archive Service.
    Information about a slate museum in North America. The website contains photographs of the industry in North America; general information about the museum; interviews with former quarrymen who emigrated from Wales to North America; and a list of more than a hundred quarry terms and their meanings.
    This website contains a general introduction to the slate industry in North and Mid-Wales. A valuable source of contemporary photographs, portraying the ruins of the slate industry throughout most areas of north Wales.
    This website advertises the goods produced by the Alfred McAlpine company’s quarries in Wales and North America.
    This website advertises the produce of Berwyn Quarry (Clogau) near Llangollen.
    This website advertises the produce of the Wincilate company quarry in Aberllefenni.
    This website advertises the visitor attraction in the Lake District, England, but also contains articles on the history of the slate quarry in Honister.
    A website containing more than 20,000 images and objects from museums, libraries and archives in Wales. Images of the slate industry are shown under the theme of ‘industry’.
    A website containing photographs of quarry ruins in north and mid Wales.
    The website of ‘The European Route of Industrial Heritage’ – a network linking the most important industrial sites in Europe.
    A website naming all the slate quarries operating in Wales today.
Museums and visitor attractions

There are a variety of museums and visitor attractions are connected to the slate industry across Wales. By visiting these you can experience, and gain a thorough understanding of, the slate industry’s industrial and social history.

Penrhyn Castle
LL57 4HN

Inigo Jones & Co Ltd
Tudor Slate Works
Y Groeslon,
Gwynedd, LL54 7UE
(01286) 830242

Llechwedd Slate Caverns
Blaenau Ffestiniog
LL41 3NB
(01766) 830306

Llanfair Slate Caverns
(01766) 780247

Caernarfon Maritime Museum
Victoria Dock
(01248) 752083

Porthmadog Maritime Museum
Oakley Wharf No 1
The Harbour
Porthmadog, Gwynedd
LL49 9LU
(01766) 513736

Llyn Padarn Railway
Gilfach Ddu
LL55 4TY
(01286) 870549

Ffestiniog Railway
Harbour Station
LL49 9NF
(01766) 516024

Tal y Llyn Railway Company
Wharf Station
LL36 9EY
(01654) 710472

Corris Railway Society
Station Yard
SY20 9SH

Cae’r Gors, Rhosgadfan
Cae’r Gors, the home of novelist Dr Kate Roberts, is located in Rhosgadfan. The Friends of Cae’r Gors managed to secure a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to renovate the cottage and create a small interpretation centre. The renovation work at Cae’r Gors started in January 2006.

T. Rowland Hughes’ Home
Located in the village of Llanberis, it is possible to arrange a visit to the home by contacting the clerk of Llanberis Community Council. 

Royal Commission on the Ancient &
Historical Monuments of Wales,

Plas Crug,
Ceregigion, SY23 1NJ
Tel 01970 621200