Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Sweet Home Alabama

A glimpse at the Diffwys floor 2 “Alabama” Mill.

Drumhouse (1280x960)
Since Diffwys  Quarry is only a few minutes from where I live, you would think that I would have studied it extensively. But it’s a case of the “cobbler’s bairns” being the worst shod; apart from a mooch around a couple of years ago, I have ignored the place in favour of more exotic locations- very peverse, since Diffwys is a wonderful relic, especially if you know what to look for.
Looking down to Blaenau (960x1280) Looking over the floor 0 mill towards Blaenau Ffestiniog and the Moelwyns.

Over the last few months, we’ve been redressing the balance. I can’t say I know very much more, but, looking at the photos in the AditNow and Mine Explorer albums, I am painfully aware of what we’ve lost over the last 40 years or so. Life goes on and working quarries rarely remain static for long, so I guess we’re lucky that some remains are left to study and wonder at.
Diffwys ramps up in a series of mighty terraces up to the fabled floor six mill, which I have covered in another post here. On this occasion, we climbed up to level two and the Alabama mill complex. I don’t know why it is so named (I hope someone is going to tell me) but it is still an imposing relic.

Alabama Mill Chimney (1280x960)The Mill, looking towards the Maenofferen tip, being reduced for hard core.
Wire rope marks (1048x1280)
Wire rope wear marks on the incline

Junction underground (1280x960) A junction Underground

Looking Outbye
Rails, covered in rust shells.

Petra in Tunnel (1280x960)Inspecting the geology

Down to floor 1 (1280x960)
Looking down the incline against the sun- yes, the sun does occasionally shine in Blaenau!

If you can get your hands on a copy of Graham Isherwood’s “Slate from Blaenau Ffestiniog” there is much in there that will whet the appetite to explore. Failing that, Graham’s archive photos on Mine Explorer and AditNow are real eye-openers.
Needless to say, access to Diffwys is problematic. Part of the quarry is owned by Llechwedd and is a working concern; all is on private land. If you do visit, go carefully and responsibly, as the goodwill of the landowner is a precious thing. I’d hate for the place to be fenced off.


Anonymous said...

Like the underground junction! Alabama, eh? There are some intriguing quarry department names, aren't there? (Australia, California, Wellington,... at Dinorwic come to mind)

Iain Robinson said...

Yes, I always thought those Dinorwig names were so exotic and somehow evocative, too. The "New California" at Cefn Coch comes to mind, too, but I suppose that was more to do with the gold rush across the water. Glad you liked the underground shot!

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