Dinas Mawddwy Slate Mines
Sir Edmund Buckley built his railway to Dinas Mawddwy primarily to develop the slate mines in the area. None of his mines were profitable, however, and he himself was declared bankrupt in 1876. The largest of the slate mines was situate just south of Dinas Mawddwy at Minllyn. This quarry was bought in 1887 by William Bullock, a silk merchant from Macclesfield, Cheshire. The following is a report of a visit to the quarry on 15th June 1900, by a party from the Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club.
After an early luncheon about half the party went up the Moel-y-dre to see the Minllyn slate quarries, by kind permission of the owners, Messrs. Bullock. These gentlemen were most courteous in accompanying their guests over the workings and explaining the details. They had also made arrangements to draw any who wished up the incline from the foot of the hill to the quarry. The nerves of some were unequal to this giddy proceeding, so only seven went up in the slate trucks, while the others climbed up on foot. At this quarry only slabs are made-not roofing slates, and they are sawn and planed to the desired shape. The largest and best are used for billiard tables; the smaller ones for mantel-pieces. The most novel and interesting feature, however, was the engine that drives the machinery. In place of the huge boiler and pistons or cumbersome water-wheel, we see a compact little drum only a yard or so in diameter. This we are told is a turbine or hydraulic engine, worked by a tiny stream of water at very high pressure. The pressure is obtained from the great fall (260 feet) at this quarry-higher than any other in Wales. The engine will work at any required power from nil to fifty horse-power, and has cost practically nothing since it was started about six years ago, nor has it ever got out of order. After seeing the sawing and planing machines, the party went into the workings inside the mountain, along the galleries and through the great chambers, in one of which there is a fine echo. As usual in such places, the floor is very wet and muddy. A shot fired in the interior was heard as a dull boom. An impromptu cup of tea was provided in the office, and then all ascended to the top of the hill and on to the ridge dividing Blaen-y-cwm and Maes-y-glasau. The Messrs. Bullock, to whom our warmest thanks were tendered, here left us, and, under the guidance of Mr. J. J. Breeze, the walk was continued down the hill into Maes-y-glasau and thence home to Dinas.