Aluminium Corporation Ltd
The Aluminium Works
The aluminium works (or "smelter") was originally planned in 1895. Water from reservoirs in the Snowdonia mountains would provide the hydro-electricity needed to run the mill.
In 1907, aluminium production began in the factory and in 1916 a rolling mill was added. In 1924, the hydro-electric plant was built next to the aluminium works to assist in the running of the mill.
During the Second World War the aluminium works were under the control of the Ministry of Aircraft Production and provided parts for aircraft. It is rumoured that the Luftwaffe tried to destroy the works, but the bomber that was sent was shot down, and crash-landed in the mountains above the village.
The factory is no longer operating, smelting having already ceased in the 1940s. Alcoa bought out the company Luxfer in 2000 and announced its closure in June 2002. Dolgarrog Aluminium Ltd formed in 2002 and acquired the assets from Alcoa in 2002. The factory closed in late 2007.
In 1918 the Aluminium Corporation of Dolgarrog acquired a controlling interest in the North Wales Power and Traction Co. Ltd. Dolgarrog consequently became the administrative centre of this company, and its chairman was Henry Joseph Jack. The company intended to supply electricity to the railways of north Wales, and was the company behind the proposed Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway. Jack subsequently purchased majority shares in the Festiniog Railway, the Welsh Highland Railway (via ownership of the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways) and the Snowdon Mountain Railway, meaning that he was in control of all the passenger-carrying narrow gauge railways of that part of North Wales. The end of Dolgarrog's control on the railways came in 1924 when Jack resigned from the WHR, accepting blame for its lack of success, and the final nail in the coffin came in the form of the following year's dam disaster.
For this reason, this wiki, and other publications refer to this operation generally as the Dolgarrog People.
On 2 November 1925, the failure of two dams caused a flood that swamped the village of Dolgarrog, killing 16 people. The disaster was started by the failure of the Eigiau Dam, a gravity dam owned by the Aluminium Corporation. The water released from the reservoir flooded downstream, and overtopped the Coedty Dam, an embankment dam. This dam also subsequently failed, releasing the huge volume of water that flooded Dolgarrog.
Many more villagers could have been killed had they not been in the local theatre watching a film that night.
The disaster at Dolgarrog led the British parliament to pass the Reservoirs (Safety Provisions) Act in 1930 that introduced laws on the safety of reservoirs. This has since been updated, and the current one is the Reservoirs Act, 1975.
In 2004 a £60,000 memorial trail was created, explaining the tragic story to walkers. The trail takes visitors to where the boulders from the damaged dam reside. The project was opened by the last survivor of the dam disaster, Fred Brown, who on that night lost his mother and his younger sister. Black and white silent films of the incidents can be seen here
The construction of Eigiau dam had been facilitated by the construction of the Eigiau Tramway, which largely followed the route of the Cedryn Quarry Tramway from Dolgarrog. The incline was upgraded (and the lower section re-aligned), enabling steam engines to reach the starting point of the tramway, near Coedty reservoir. The tramway was built to standard gauge, but was subsequently relaid in narrow gauge (from about 1916) when the Cowlyd Tramway was begun. This latter tramway branched off from the Eigiau tramway at the top of the Dolgarrog incline.
The line of the railway incline has today been replaced by a second pipeline, and the adjoining hillsides are wooded. However, there is a public footpath which goes up the hillside to the left of the pipeline, and in places the timberwork can still be seen. Today the left pipeline (viewed from Dolgarrog) carries water from Llyn Eigiau, the right pipeline carries water from Coedty reservoir.
To the south of the Health Centre the remains of a lower incline (the old route of the Cedryn Tramway) can still be seen. This incline, which joined the upper section a little above the village, passed through a short tunnel under the road at Tyddyn Isaf, visible from the main road.
From here the original quarry tramway continued across the marshland to the edge of the River Conwy at Porth Llwyd wharf.
This article on the dam disaster, though not related to the FR/WHR is connected by its history