Llechwedd Slate Caverns

The search for slate at Llechwedd took J.W.Greaves to the brink of financial disaster. In 1849, having already spent £25,000 on his exploration of Llechwedd land, the banks refused to lend him anymore money with which to pay his men. Luckily for Greaves a handful of loyal men who shared his faith in the presence of slate continued working without pay and a few weeks later they were rewarded with the discovery of the now-famous ‘Old Merioneth Vein’. Five lucrative slate beds were discovered sandwiched between hard layers of chert running diagonally down from the surface. It was this 30 degree angle of the slate bed that meant the slate miners created the impressive caverns that you can visit today. A skilled slate miner would be able to use the hard chert to form the roof of a chamber and leave enough slate as supporting pillars between chambers. Once the slate had been dressed in the slate-slabbing mills of Llechwedd they would travel down the incline that can be seen from the Victorian Village to the Ffestiniog Railway. Here they were transported to Porthmadog and Greaves’ personal wharf for shipping far and wide. Llechwedd Slate Caverns as you see it today was opened to the public in 1972 but mining operations still take place to this day by Greaves Welsh Slate Company Ltd.