Refined Frame Title
RGW01_Blanche at FF small RGW01_Blanche at FF small

Originally built in 1801 as a horse-drawn rail-road to transport roofing slates from Lord Penrhyn’s quarry near Bethesda in North West Wales. The route was direct but this needed three inclines, which severely limited the amount of slate that could be transported. By 1870 it proved to be inadequate and another route, suitable for steam locomotive haulage was built, although on a longer route but, necessarily, without inclines. This new route became known as the Penrhyn Quarry Railway and operated until July 1962.

RF04_R708 Blanche at Port Pen Aug1961

Blanche about to leave Port Penrhyn with coal and other goods for the Felin Fawr works and the quarry. August 1961.

The wrongly named "scrap line" at Felin Fawr. A better name is the "redundant locomotive storage siding". The locomotives are (nearest the camera) Eigiau, Stanhope, Kathleen, Jubilee 1987.

RF07 R642 EIGIAU et al Penrhyn Jun1961

(c) Ron Fisher

(c) Ron Fisher

More of Ron's photographs of Penrhyn and other Welsh quarries can be seen at : KW22_Scrap line 1 July 1959_4 24-07_ac

Stored redundant locomotives; (nearest the camera) Sgt. Murphy, Lilla, Edward Shoto, Gertrude, Lilian.

Taken on 1st July 1959 / (c) R. Keith Walton

KW25_Trackwork at Port Penrhyn 1 July 1959_24-12_ret_ac

Trackwork at Port Penrhyn. Notice the narrow gauge PQR crossing the standard gauge LNWR Port Penrhyn branch by the swivelling crossing controlled by a point lever. Most of the narrow gauge points were of the stub type.

Taken on 1st July 1959 / (c) R. Keith Walton

GAH31_Stanhope in quarry

(c) Ann Hatherill

Stanhope in Penrhyn quarry. Note the runner wagon ("tender") behind the locomotive.  These had the dual purpose of protecting the locomotive from overhanging slates in wagons and also as a handy place for carrying coupling chains and other essentials.

GAH42_Cegin in PQ

(c) Ann Hatherill

Cegin on the Red Lion level of Penrhyn quarry. Pamela is in the right background. Note the scrap slate tipping ramp above the telegraph pole in the right of the picture.



GAH72_Nesta in PQ

(c) Ann Hatherill

Nesta in Penrhyn quarry. It is interesting to speculate what the conversation is about. The chap wearing the blazer appears to be a railway enthusiast visitor to the quarry.

Slate wagon logo_2 copy

Up to twenty wagons laden with slate were hauled by sets of horses between the inclines and this system worked efficiently for 75 years until it became apparent that such was the demand for slate, certain improvements would have to be carried out.


The first such modification came in the form of the Tyn-y-Clwt Incline deviation, this meant that the incline nearest the quarry and the level crossing on St Anns Road could be avoided in the form of a 1 in 34 deviation and the construction of a bridge over the road. This new mile-long section was designed and constructed by the Penrhyn Estate in 1876 and is now part of land available to rebuild the railway.


The next major development was designed by Spooner of Ffestiniog fame and incorporated a major deviation at the head of Dinas incline with the new route deviating sharply West into the village of Tregarth and gradually veering almost due North. This new section was very picturesque, running mostly through woods alongside the Afon Cegin before entering Port Penrhyn. The length of the whole line was then about six miles. Spooner also came up with suggestions for locomotives and enclosed coaches - all of which were rejected by the Penrhyn Estate.


Early motive power consisted of a trio of unique horizontal boilered DeWinton locomotives supplied in 1876, Edward Sholto (the first), Hilda and Violet. These locomotives although not by any means successful, worked the new railway until the arrival of the first Hunslet, Charles, in 1882, followed by Blanche and Linda in 1893. A wide variety of steam locomotives followed, including the famous “quarry” Hunslets and a number second hand from a variety of sources.


After 167 years of service the Penrhyn Quarry Railway was closed in June 1962, most of the locomotives finding new homes throughout the world.

The original Penrhyn Railway or tramway was constructed in 1798, designed by Benjamin Wyatt who was the land agent for Lord Penrhyn at that time. This railway was constructed to transport slate from the largest slate quarries in the world at Bethesda to Port Penrhyn at Bangor, North Wales. The railway consisted of four level sections separated by three inclines and is shown on the map on the back of this leaflet.


It is a subject of much debate in historical circles as to whether or not Lord Penrhyn introduced the two foot gauge system to the world.