This was were my interest in mining started. I was part of a
crowd of Walsall lads who used to go up to the deserted slate mining village of Bryneglwys, just above Abergynolwyn. We converted the old compressor house
into accommodation with the building of bunks and a fireplace. This was
about 1962. I remember from the time that
others used to use "the bunkhouse". On one of these occasions, we all
dossed in another bunkhouse in the hills to the north. This was used by a
climbing group who called themselves the Lynx. Another group from Walsall
centred around a chap named Twee Walker. They drove a V8 Pilot and dossed in the
old farm which one passes on the left driving up to the quarry. I think is
called Hendrewallog. Twee Walker is actually a relative of Maureen Burns (nee
Walker) a long standing lady friend, this is pure coincidence. (Small world)
We used to
explore the underground workings with the aid of carbide lamps. At the time I
had my fathers old Austin Somerset, but I sold this and bought a Sunbeam Talbot
90. The track up to the village was bad , even in those days, and eventually
finished a job that rust had started. The land was
eventually purchased by the Forestry Commission who demolished all the
buildings, and generally tore the place up. Underground access is still possible. At the end of the
"Daylight Adit" there is a chamber, and until recently our graffiti
from the 1960s could still be seen. This has recently been removed by persons
unknown. At the time of writing, the area has recently been planted and shows
little resemblance to its former state. Several old friends are now dead.
There is now work going on clearing vegetation and laying paths.
What I have seen so far, I like. I hope that Forest Enterprise, who are
doing this don't try blocking underground access. It is, and always has been,
possible to drive up to the place. You can take the old quarry road from
Abergynolwyn, and drive as far as a "ford bridge", where there is room
to park. If you try to go any further you are likely to tear the floor out of
your car, and there is a locked gate anyway, so forget your 4*4. Alternatively,
drive up the Forestry road, right into the place. Nice place for a picnic with
your lady, but don't leave anything behind or light any fires!
Bryneglwys: Before demolition
The Bryneglwys Hotel, the converted compressor
The lads: I am centre row far left. Age about 19. Other faces
include John Barratt, Jimmy Ford, Alex Ragusa, and the Stewart Brothers. The
Tilley Lamp was the property of John Barratt. He had just purchased it and was
quite proud of it. The Alsatian was the property of the Stewarts, they had named
it "Herbert". The daftest name for a bloody dog I have ever heard.
Photos: Al Platt
Another place that we visited/camped at in those days was the
vicinity of a building at SH 676248 shown on older Ordinance Survey maps as
"Shooting Box". This was originally built for that purpose by the
manager of the nearby Cefn Gam slate quarry for that purpose. In 1953 it was acquired
by the local Brice family and renamed "Haffod -y -Brenin. Situated at the
end of long track accessed from the lane commencing opposite the toll
bridge on the Dolgellau - Barmouth road, the building is of "log
cabin" type construction with a corrugated iron roof. In 1963 we used to
camp in an adjacent outbuilding, which at that time was left open. We also
explored the nearby quarry tunnel with the aid of carbide la
April 2007 update.
I have recently been up to the place and have
noted that more paths have bee created for the benefit of the visitor.
Also the deep adit cutting and surrounding area has been cleared. The Forestry
have surrounded it with a 2 strand wire fence, and wisely, left sufficient
debris in the cutting as leave the adit a bit on the wet side in order to
discourage the casual visitor. I have to say that I am delighted with the way
that the area is now being managed, and I really mean this.