Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Conglog: of Bandits and Cathedrals.

Conglog, that fascinating little mine on the way to Rhosydd, has some intriguing secrets for those willing to brave freezing cold, thigh-deep water, or risk leaving their car parked at the end of the track, at the mercy of the local banditry.

While the mine does contain some lovely artefacts, I don't think that any of them would interest the people who stole the engine from Wrysgan in 2012 and somehow got it down from there without being seen. I'm glad I photographed it, a year or so before, but then there's the nagging worry that perhaps publishing my photograph might have led to it's theft, as was suggested by some folk when the GWR slate wagon was cut up and stolen at Maenofferen. But then, do bandits read blogs?

Just in case they do, I'm not saying where the adit is - because I want these things to stay where they are, to rot into piles of rusty ochre without interference from people stealing on behalf of collectors. With that out of the way, I can say that while not as spectacular as Rhosydd or Cwmorthin, Conglog does possess some beautiful chambers, cathedral-like in their size and acoustics. Not that I recommend singing in the chambers as there have been some mighty falls, like the dagger-shaped slab of slate that buried itself in the floor of chamber B4. The enormous lump of slate (the size of a single decker bus) at the back of B4 must also have made a bang when it landed. I've been told of men having burst eardrums and broken ribs from being in a chamber when a major collapse happens, and I can believe it. Luckily, nothing fell when we were underground.
Yours truly, with vestigial legs due to a time-exposure.

 Access to the level B chamber system at Conglog is past a perilous looking collapse, held up by a prop of timber and some dubiously stacked rocks, most too heavy to lift by one man. We squeezed past this with great caution, before entering into the airy space of chamber B4, where the roof rises 30 metres above, feint light coming in from a roofing shaft high at the end. An adit drives further into the hill, expoiting the north vein. The only chamber to work the back vein, the one worked by the Ffestiniog slate quarries such as Maenofferen, is near the adit portal.  A further three chambers lie along the line of the adit, running east-west. The adit then drives 249 metres further into the hill, although why, when the North Vein had obviously been found, I don't understand.

The Collapse.
 As far as we can find out, the level B workings were driven by Devon miners in 1872, under a sub-lease from Robert Roberts,  the main quarry lessee and a surgeon in the Oakley Hospital, whose men were busy on level C. The rent charged enabled Roberts to pay his rents from the landowner. Later on, the quarry was worked by a consortium of local men, trading as the Glyn Ffestiniog Slate Company until 1910, when the quarry closed. It seems that B6 was the last chamber to be worked, and rather poignantly, a loaded rubbish wagon sits inside, waiting in vain to be trundled outside and tipped.

For above ground photos and some description , my previous post on the quarry is here.

As usual, Petra's photos are here.

Further reading:
I can recommend the excellent booklet, "Conglog Slate Quarry" by Celia Hancock and MJT Lewis, 2006, ISBN 0 9522979 4 9

Remains of a crane
Petra in B2, next to some fallen rock

Chamber B1 on the back vein. Very interesting "spoon points" in the foreground.

The long tunnel


lustrebox said...

Sad to think that such banditry occurs...

Iain Robinson said...

Increasingly so in this area, or perhaps most places are the same.

Jake of Winter Hill said...

Great Photo's ,

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks, Jake.

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