In many ways, Dinorwig is shrouded in mystery. It can be frustrating not being able to find out what things are, why they are there and what their proper names are.
Unfortunately for posterity, upon closure of the quarry in 1969 the management ordered that all records were to be destroyed- I can't help wondering just what they were trying to cover up. Some of the workers took quantities of the records home, rather than see them destroyed, and I'm so grateful to those enterprising folk.
As for Morgan's level, nothing remains of it's history. A shame, since it is a landmark in the quarry.
We know from the map evidence (Ordnance Survey XVII.NW) that Morgan's was working in 1888- the "Tank" incline that we see today is clearly marked, along with a line of "walliau" and other structures. The incline above, however, was already out of use.
The Morgan incline (a "B" or local series incline in Dinorwig terms), starts at the Dyffryn Outlet tramway level. Rock was taken from this level to the mills at Ffiar Injan*.
The incline is greatly degraded. Near the top, a fine set of steps can be used to reach the crimp, or platform. Until recently, the vestigial remains of a partial roof perched precariously above the Drumhouse, but the gales of 2021 saw that off.
The drumhouse is interesting in that it has the brake drum on the outside of the building, similar to some of the drumhouses at Vivian. You can still see the braking mechanism and the levers which controlled it.
One of the carriages, which held two waggons side by side, is still hanging precariously on the incline. The other must have been lost when the Dyffryn outlet tramway was converted to a haul road. There would have been a pit at the bottom to accomodate the carriage- this would have enabled the waggons to be rolled off and away to the mills.
On this level to the rear of the drumhouse, there are some walliau and what look like a couple of offices. Behind and to the west of these is a tunnel that leads into Sinc Galed. This must have been relatively early in the life of the sinc, as the tunnel is marooned now and ends in a sheer drop of a couple of hundred feet.
There's a dyke of whinstone running up the mountainside here, easily seen against the smooth slate measures to the side. At least the dyke was utilised to make the foxes path, that was something.
So it's time to ascend the second Morgan's incline. But before we do, let's go around to the eastern side of the lower Morgan's workings, where there is a Ponc (bank) above the Dyffryn workings. I mentioned Whinstone dykes, well there are a couple of crackers in here. The quarrymen didn't have it all their own way, as can be seen from this vantage point.
The second incline is in surprisingly good condition considering that it has been abandoned for at least 142 years. As with everything at Dinorwig, it is a masterpiece of dry stone wall building, a real monument to these incredible men. While I'm talking about the men, we had stopped earlier in the Dyffryn twll to have breakfast and I ruminated on the thought that this vast opening in the mountain was nothing compared to the Garret twlls, or the silences of the Braich or Twll Mawr. Yet it must have taken several generations of men to carve it out. What a thought.
We walked up the incline and I became aware of a piquant whiff coming from somewhere. I looked behind me to see a goat patiently following, stopping when I stopped and looking at me as if to say "What? Come on, move it, pal!" Reaching the top, he quickly moved on past, following his own goaty agenda.
The top of this incline is a shattered, seemingly ancient world. Old shelters hang on to the mountainside and an office complex teeters over it all.
This level, which seems to be the upper limit of access in quarry terms from Morgan's, leads into the side of Sinc Braich, or the "Lost World" as the climbers call it. So perhaps this smaller digging might be Sinc Braich Bach. Probably an early, exploratory or development level of the main Braich twll. It has some remnants of air piping remaining and a few waggon bits, but looks like a working that was abandoned long ago. There are, however, some amazing views into Braich...
If you were to struggle on upwards from here, you would come to Bonc Roller and Pen Garret. But for now, we will leave Morgan's and it's mysteries for another time.
If anyone does know more about these fascinating levels, I would love to know.
*Ffiar Injan mills was the name given to a steam engine that powered the mills on the A4 level (Harriet). The engine was made by David Bros, Sheffield. Dinorwig's owner, Thomas Assheton Smith, in his vainglorious book "The reminiscences of a famous foxhunter" says that:
"The steam engine has been worked ten years both day and night yet it has never been known to be out of order. The quarrymen have such faith in it that they affirm it would work just as well on slates as on coal and coke."
It's a wonder Assheton Smith didn't insist the men tried that.
The usual suspects:
Dinorwic (sic) by Reg Chambers Jones, Bridge Books, ISBN: 1-84494-033-0
Slates to Velinhelli (sic) D C Carrington and T F Rushworth, Maid Marian Locomotive Fund, 1972.
Delving in Dinorwig, Douglas C Carrington, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 1994, ISBN: 0-86381-285-6
Observations from photographs by Eric Jones
Finally, some photos that wouldn't fit anywhere else...
Receive the occasional Treasure Maps Newsletter- and alerts when a new post is available!
If you enjoy my content, please buy me a coffee!
Check out my other online activity...