Oakeley Slate Quarries
Oakeley Quarry originated in 1818 when Samuel Holland leased a small quarry at Rhiwbryfdir farm. This venture was successful and was sold in 1825 to the Welsh Slate Company. Holland then opened a new quarry at Gesail, above Rhiwbryfdir. In 1839 Holland's Gesail quarry (also know as the Upper Quarry) became one of the first users of the Ffestiniog Railway to send slates to the wharves at Porthmadog. By 1840 underground working had begun and a large steam-driven cutting mill was opened around 1860. By the mid-1870s over 14,000 tons of finished slate was being produced annually. 
During the same period, Nathaniel Mathew had leased land between Gesail and Rhiwbryfdir and opened up Gloddfa Ganol (in English: Middle Quarry). Gloddfa Ganol, also known as Mathew's Quarry was a pioneer of the use of slate dressing machines and was an early user of steam powered mills and inclines. By the mid-1870s Gloddfa Ganol was producing more than 10,000 tons of finished slate annually.
There was a third major quarry nearby. The Lord Palmerston Quarry was located below and south of Gloddfa Ganol. Its extensive underground workings were connected to the Ffestiniog Railway by 1838 and it opened the first steam-driven cutting mill in the district around 1840. By the 1870s annual production was around 50,000 tons of finished slates.
The leaseholds for both Gesail and Gloddfa Ganol expired in 1878 and the landowner, W.E. Oakeley consolidated the Upper and Middle quarries into a single operation.
The Lord Palmerston Quarry continued as an independent quarry, but had been pursuing aggressive and dangerous mining methods. A number of underground collapses culminated in several significant rock falls in 1882 and 1883 which threatened to destablize the two Oakeley-owned quarries above. Oakeley sued to owners of the Lord Palmerston Quarry and took ownership of it, amalgamating all three into a single operation known as the Oakeley Quarry.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Oakeley acquired the adjacent Nidd-y-Gigfran and the nearby Cwm Orthin Quarry. At their peak these combined quarries produced 60,000 tons of slate annually and were the third largest in the United Kingdom.
Extensive use was made of stationary steam engines to run the cutting mills, dressing sheds and inclines in the quarry, although from 1906 hydro-electric power was introduced.
Oakeley continued to produce significant tonnages of slate through World War Two, but experienced a rapid decline in the 1960s, along with the remainder of the British slate industry. The quarry closed in 1971.
The quarry re-opened as a working quarry and tourist attraction in the mid 1970s under the name Gloddfa Ganol. This enterprise was sold to McAlpines in 1997 and the tourist side of the business was closed. The quarry continues to operate in 2007.
|Mary Oakeley||0-4-0VBT||Falcon||1884||scrapped about 1920|
|Mary Caroline||0-4-0T||Adamson||1888||scrapped about 1931|
|Algernon||0-4-0GT||Wilson & co.||before 1873||Scrapped||Probably Welsh Slate Co.'s "Mole"|
|Charles||0-4-0T||Adamson||1890||scrapped about 1931|
|Diana||0-4-0T||Kerr Stuart||1909||1198||ex Home Grown Timber committee, Kerry Tramway. Bought 1925.||Sold in 45 to Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry where it worked until the boiler was condemned in 1950. Stored at Gilfach Ddu for Mr. Hillis until sold to the Brecon Mountain Railway. Now in private ownership and restored to working order at Alan Keef Ltd. in 1999/2000.||6 tons 6x10 24" 140lbs/sq.in.|
|Clifford||0-4-0WT||Hudswell Clarke||1915||1142.||ex Nottingham 1924.||Scrapped|
|Kidbrooke||0-4-0ST||Bagnall||1917||2043||ex R.A.S.C Kidbrooke depot.||Out of use by 1939. Sold in 1961 to Mr. R. Hilton; stored at Minfordd Yard on the FR until 1970 when it moved to Didcot. By 2000 was owned by Paul Hemnell and fully restored, from 2004 has been at the Yaxham Light Railway.|
|Clifford||0-4-0PM||Baguley||1917||774||ex Machynlleth.||Out of use 1939. Sold in 1966 to Rodney Weaver. Moved to Brian Goodchild's railway at Leamington Spa in 1968. Sold to R.P. Morris in 1970 and moved to Bampton, Oxfordshire in 1973, and then to Longfield, Kent. Returned to Wales in 1977 as part of the Narrow Gauge Railway Centre display at Gloddfa Ganol. In February 1998 she was purchased by the NGRM Trust of the Talyllyn Railway at Tywyn. Now undergoing cosmetic restoration at the Amerton Railway.|
|Rosa||0-4-0PM||Baguley||1919||779||ex Kerry Tramway.||Destroyed by fire, 1937|
|4wDM||Bagnall||1933||2499||to Votty & Bowydd|
|4wDM||Ruston Hornsby||1935||177598||ex Egypt, via Robert Hudson|
|4wDM||Ruston Hornsby||1936||177638||to Votty & Bowydd|
|4wDM||Ruston Hornsby||1952||264252||acquired from Votty & Bowydd around 1962|