Press Releases

Lots of steam for a centenary celebration

The Welsh Slate Museum Llanberis hosts a special show on the weekend of 18–19 June to celebrate the centenary of its steam engine UNA. The event, which is sure to attract rail enthusiasts, offers an opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy the magic of steam. Visitors will be able to ride on miniature steam trains brought together specifically for the celebration.

A number of former drivers and firemen of quarry steam engines from the slate-producing areas of north Wales will join in a ceremony organised to mark the occasion. Mr Harry Roberts, UNA's last operational driver at Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry, Dyffryn Nantlle, will cut a large birthday cake in front of an audience of people who also have family links with the slate industry. Mr Roberts will once again raise a head of steam and drive UNA a short distance at 11am on Saturday 18 June in the Museum yard immediately outside the engine shed.

Dr Dafydd Roberts, Keeper of the Welsh Slate Museum, said that narrow gauge railways and steam engines had been essential for the development of the slate industry. "UNA was used mainly to haul wagons of rubble inside Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry. The engine was acquired by the Welsh Slate Museum in 1977 and has been in excellent condition for many years following a period of restoration."

UNA, works number 873, was built in 1905 by the Hunslet company of Leeds. She worked at Pen-yr-Orsedd until about 1960. The six-ton saddle-tank locomotive has a 0-4-0 configuration and was designed for a 1' 11" (60 cm) gauge railway. According to the company's records, UNA was painted originally in the deep red livery of the Midland Railway. She is named after one of the characters in The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser. After the centenary celebration, the plan is to repaint the engine in her original colour to reflect the historical accuracy at the core of the Museum's curatorial ethos.

Facilities available during the weekend celebration include a family playroom, café, shop and the Museum's usual events and attractions. The doors to the UNA Centenary Celebration Show open at 10am daily and entry is free.


Other NMGW sites are the National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff, Museum of Welsh Life, St Fagans, Big Pit: National Mining Museum, Blaenafon - winner of this year's prestigious Gulbenkian Prize - Roman Legionary Museum, Caerleon, and National Woollen Museum, Dre-fach Felindre. Opening later this year is the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, telling the innovative story of the peoples and industry of Wales.

Entry to all NMGW sites is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.

For further information, please contact John Kendall, Marketing Officer, Welsh Slate Museum, on 01286 873707.

Notes to editors

  • The Welsh Slate Museum Llanberis lies on the border of the Snowdonia National Park, a heartland of unparalleled natural beauty with a spectacular rock face. The site — the former maintenance workshops of the now defunct Dinorwig Quarry Company — holds the key to a significant period of Wales' engineering past along with wealth of social and industrial history. Once inside the striking walls of the Museum's buildings, visitors are offered an introductory 3D show, quarry craft demonstrations, mainland Britain's largest giant waterwheel, a row of quarrymen's houses illustrating the way quarrymen and their families lived through different eras and a comprehensive educational events' programme.