New photos show the remains of an abandoned circa 1800s slate quarrying village reclaimed by nature, giving Wales its very own version of “Angkor Wot”. Northwest Wales is renowned for its slate quarrying industry, boasting some of the world’s most productive mines that extend from the Nant Ffrancon valley in the east to Nantlle. The region was said to have helped “roof the 19th century world”, supplying slate to all corners of the globe.
However, many of the original villages that grew up around the mining industry have since been abandoned, providing fascinating destinations for urban explorers.
One such settlement is the old Talysarn village next to Dorothea quarry, which nowadays contains ghostly reminders of its former glories.
The centrepiece of the abandoned community is still the three-storied Plas Talysarn or, Talysarn Hall.
Built originally in the 18th century, it was modified and extended in the following two centuries, according to WalesOnline.
Today all that remains of this once splendid building are gutted ruins. Some timbers from its roof still lie over the south-facing front wall.
Nearby is the entrance to what was once a stable block and kennels, which were later converted into showers for the hardworking quarrymen.
Reminders of a bygone industrial age can be glimpsed at the former boiler house, which still contains the remains of two Lancashire boilers.
Daniel Start, the author of the book Wild Guide Wales, has compared the abandoned village to Cambodia’s famous Hindu-Buddhist temple complex, calling it the “Welsh Angkor Wat”.
He wrote: “Only the baboons are missing.
“It’s a vast, wild site with many fascinating, overgrown ruins, including a Cornish beam engine and the overgrown remains of the chapel at Plas Talysarn.”
Dorothea quarry was originally opened in 1820, before eventually being decommissioned in 1970.
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By the 1870s, the quarry was producing 17,000 tonnes of slate and its future looked very secure indeed.
However, the quarry was repeatedly flooded by water from the river Afon Llyfni.
In one horrific incident in 1884, several miners lost their lives, after they drowned in the flood waters.
This led the authorities to divert the course of the river, which helped to prevent severe flooding in the future.
In 1904 a Cornish beam engine was installed as a replacement for the waterwheels, the remains of which can still be seen in the village.
The pit now is filled with water, forming a lake which is over 100m deep in places.
It forms part of the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales World Heritage Site, which was announced by Unesco in July 2021.
The quarry’s original name was Cloddfa Turner, but it was renamed Dorothea after landowner Richard Garnons’ wife.
He owned the land, but the driving force behind the quarrying of the valley was William Turner from Lancaster.