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Llanberis Slate Museum

For the princely sum of £1 car parking for the whole day(!!) we enjoyed a splendid time at the Llanberis Slate Museum. Sounds boring doesn’t it but in fact Mother (in her eighties) husband (interested in everything) me and the dog (yes they’re welcome too) found the buildings, the railways and the living museums totally facinating.

The buildings were stout and purposeful, having stood for many years and with much life left in them yet. They housed not just the equipment necessary to run and maintain the mines but also the wooden moulds used to produce the bespoke ironmongery in the foundry. Pictoral images relayed the immensity of the sometimes huge frames, trusses and cog wheels needed to mine the slate that was so important to the area.

Trains were employed to move the slate and the workers around this vast site beneath the huge ‘trash’ piles of unworkable material. I hear that hand-cutting the slate was always done on a high point so if a mistake happened or the slate yielded an imperfection, it was just pushed down the slope out of the way. No time or further effort was made, there was after all, plenty more where that came from. The trains are run as a visitor attraction now – there is a small charge.

A demonstration of trimming slate was in progress – guess who was picked out to assist? I was guided to trim a slim roof-tile into a circular teapot stand…..it’s not bad either.

The ‘living’ museum was a short row of terraced houses. These had been relocated and resurrected here on the site and gave an amazing account of home-life from the early 1800’s. The earliest cottage 2 up/2 down depicted the starkness which was everyday living. Many people could inhabit the small rooms for as some were leaving for work, others would be returning, to climb into the still-warm beds newly vacated. Cooking on a range over the fire and with no water they lacked even basic facilities (I think the outside lavatory was shared with the neighbours). The next property displayed the dourness of the Victorian era and the third cottage was uneasily familiar from the 1960’s – I slept in a bed like that too!

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day for each of us and what a useful place to go on a rainy day.

Sue Allen
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