Cwt-y-Bugail Quarry

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group

Cwt-y-Bugail quarry (located at SH734469) was connected to the FR via the Rhiwbach Tramway. Prior to the building of the tramway, development had been slow, and there was talk of building a tramway down to Penmachno. In 1882 it produced 1662 tons of slate, increasing in later years to twice this much. Cwt-y-Bugail quarry finally closed in the 1970s.

Note that the same name was later given by Alfred McAlpine to the quarry they owned and worked at Manod, previously known as Bwlch y Slaters, Bwlch Manod or "New" Manod (as opposed to the Old Manod Quarry at SH725452).

Map of the Rhiwbach Tramway showing the location of the Cwt y Bugail Quarry

The Cwt y Bugail Quarry was a slate quarry located east of Blaenau Ffestiniog. It was first worked as a trial pit around 1840. Continuous production began in 1863 and continued until closure in 1961. The quarry was connected to the Festiniog Railway at Duffws Station via the Rhiwbach Tramway.[1]


Adam Gregory leased the Blaen Y Cwm Quarry above Blaenau Ffestiniog from 1838 to 1849. During this time he made several trial workings at Cwt y Bugail. In 1863 Hugh Beaver Roberts sold half his interest in the Cwt y Bugail land to a consortium who formed the New Cwt y Bugail Slate Company Ltd. to begin production on the site. This company worked the quarry until 1875 when the quarry was sold to the Bugail Slate Quarry Company Ltd. under the chairmanship of Thomas Scott of Edinburgh; during this period the quarry was known locally as 'y cwmni Ysgottiad' ("the Scottish Enterprise").

Around 1877 the quarry was taken over by Owen Williams from the nearby village of Penmachno. He ran Cwt y Bugail for the next thirty years and was the great-grandfather of Owen Glyn Williams who managed the quarry in the 1980s.

Production of slate peaked in 1877 and began dwindling significantly from 1884 onwards. By 1887 the quarry was closed, but Owen Williams formed a worker's cooperative and began working the quarry in 1888. The cooperative purchased the quarry from the Bugail Slate Quarry Co. for a nominal fee in 1892 Modest production with 60 men employed continued until 1898 when another gradual decline set in. In 1908 a rock fall in the quarry caused the company to fall into debt and it went into receivership in 1899. The receiver sold the quarry to Cadwalader Owen Roberts of Betwys y Coed for a nominal sum.

The quarry continued operating under the name the New Welsh Slate Quarry. Cadwalader Pierce took over as manager in 1911 repairing some of the damage from the rock fall. The quarry continued producing until 1912 but after that only already worked slate was dispatched and the quarry closed again in April 1914.

Roberts reopened Cwt y Bugail in 1919 and worked it for three more years, but again the enterprise failed and the quarry closed.

In 1923 Tudor Roberts of Glanypwll set up the Cwt y Bugail Slate Quarries Ltd. to purchase and work the quarry. This company owned the quarry until 1961, though from 1946 it was sub-leased to the nearby Maenofferen Quarry to which it was connected by the Rhiwbach Tramway. From 1956 onwards the quarry was sub-leased to Manod Slate Quarries Ltd. which operated the Graig Ddu Quarry to the south.

In 1961 the Cwt y Bugail company was taken over by a consortium led by Dafydd Price, who also purchased Graig Ddu which at this time was a much more productive quarry. Some sporadic slate extraction continued at Cwt y Bugail until 1972.

A subsidiary of Ffestiniog Slate Quarry Ltd. purchased the land and mineral rights to Cwt y Bugail in 1985. Ffestiniog Slate Quarries also owned the Oakeley Slate Quarries in Blaenau Ffestiniog and in 1997 was taken over by the McAlpine group, although the quarry has not been worked since the 1970s.


Connection to the Rhiwbach Tramway[edit]

Despite its remote location, Cwt y Bugail was able to transport its production via the Rhiwbach Tramway which fed the Ffestiniog Railway at Blaenau Ffestiniog. The tramway was built by the Festiniog Slate Quarry Co. Ltd. in 1863 to connect its Rhiwbach Quarry with the Ffestiniog Railway. As part of the agreement that allowed the construction of the tramway over private land, the Cwt y Bugail quarry was allowed to use the tramway for its slate output.

The tramway continued to be the primary transport link for the quarry for nearly a hundred years. When the Rhiwbach Quarry closed in 1953, Cwt y Bugail became the sole remaining user of the upper portion of the tramway, continuing until the quarry closure of 1961.

Internal tramways[edit]

Internally the quarry connected to the tramway via a cable hauled incline that lifted the loaded slate wagons approximately 10 feet from the quarry's mill level to the junction with the tramway.

Within the quarry were eleven or twelve inclines used at various periods to access the slate workings and tipping areas. These were connected to the mill via lightly laid tramways using bridge and flat bottom rail. Although the majority of this track was laid to 1 ft 11½ ins gauge to match the Festiniog and Rhiwbach Tramway, there is some evidence that the earliest tramways in the quarry were laid to 2ft 2ins gauge.


For most of the quarry's existence, the internal tramways were worked by hand or horse power. From the late 1940s a series of internal combustion locomotives are known to have worked in the quarry:

Builder Type Works Number Built Notes
Ruston and Hornsby 4wD 20HP 223687 1944 Purchased before 1949 from the Ministry of Supply, used on the Rhiwbach Tramway from 1953 to 1961, scrapped between 1974 and 1977
F. C. Hibberd & Co Ltd 4wD 10HP 1925 c. Scrapped in 1960
Lister 4wD 06HP 3742 1931 Purchased from Groesyddwyafon Quarry before 1953. Scrapped, gearbox reused in a winch
Hunslet 4wD 20HP 2024 1940 Purchased from the Trefor granite quarry between 1962 and 1964, but too large for the adit and not used at Cwt y Bugail. Purchased by Gloddfa Ganol

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lewis, Michael Jonathan Taunton (2003). Blaen y Cwm and Cwt y Bugail Slate Quarries. Mold, N Wales: Adit Publications. ISBN 9780952297932. OCLC 55964065.
  • Further information and pictures can be found at JGD and Penmorfa