Perched high up the steep rocky
eastern flanks of Moel-yr-hydd, and on the opposite side of the valley to the huge Cwmorthin quarry, Wrysgan is not a big mine -
but it is a spectacular one. From the unusual main incline (see below) to the sheer steepness of the mountainside it is cut out of, this could
never have been an easy site to work. Indeed Wrysgans history is litered with failed companies trying to extract slate here
and yet it kept working, somewhat intermitently, from the early scratchings of the 1830's, up to final closure in the (early) 1950s.
[Pic 1] Wrysgan Quarry - The main
exit incline (May 1990)
For the traveller on the Ffestiniog railway, the only visible sign of Wrysgan is the unusual incline (Pic 1 above)
rising ever steeper up the mountainside before disappearing into a tunnel at the rocky summit. This most unusual incline was built
to replace an earlier counter balance incline that descended down the eastern side of the workings to Cwmorthin - the rest of the journey then
by pack horse.
Once opened it connected directly to the
Ffestiniog railway via a siding* and was originally twin tracked, but was relaid (pre 1940 ?) as a single acting powered incline. Indeed, power
haulage was used more or less throughout its working life due to the steepness at the summit and the shallowness at the base - more on this elow.
Rails were lifted on this incline at least three times (1913,
1920, & pre 1940) and each time relaid before final dismantling in 1946. Nowadays the upper formation is intact, but the
lower section is virtually obliterated following the construction of the Tanygrisiau power station (and its Stwlan dam road) in the
* The siding appears to pre-date the main
[Pic 2] Wrysgan Quarry - Inline drumhouse (Sept 1987)
Pic 2 (above) shows the collapsed main incline drumhouse -
the icline itself descends down (very steeply) through the rock opening. Entrance to the site via the incline is not recommended, only the
most stout hearted climber would enjoy the final section through the rock cutting! My very first visit was up this route
in the late 1970's (a time when the author had mountain legs) and i have vivid memories of gathering my breath sat on rocks next to where my
brother is stood in the photo.
As can be seen, much still exists here, including remains of a steam haulage engine and even a lorry chassis - the latter being the final means
of power. It is also worth noting Wrysgan used electric haulage at one time, circa 1920s.
[Pic 3] Wrysgan Quarry - Inside incline summit tunnel
(Above) shows the view looking down inside the inclines summit tunnel. Cut through solid rock at an extremely steep angle (so steep that an
uphaulage system would be the only reasonable method of raising wagons up this final stretch) this is a rare incline - there are more than a few
slate quarry underground inclines cut through rock - but not many external inclines like this one.
on Page 2)