Dorothea Quarry

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Dorothea Quarry
Dorothea Quarry
Dorothea Quarry is located in Wales
Dorothea Quarry
Dorothea Quarry
Dorothea Quarry shown within Wales
OS grid reference SH5177350251
Coordinates 53°03′15″N 4°14′36″W / 53.054194°N 4.243437°W / 53.054194; -4.243437Coordinates: 53°03′15″N 4°14′36″W / 53.054194°N 4.243437°W / 53.054194; -4.243437
List of places

Dorothea Quarry is a large slate quarry in the Nantlle Valley in North Wales.

The quarry covers a large area around Talysarn and contains three flooded deep lakes within the site.


Dorothea Quarry commenced working in the early 1820s, though there were a number of smaller workings on or near the site before this. By 1848 it had become the dominant quarry in the area, employing 200 men and producing 5000 tons of finished slate. Production peaked in 1872 at 17442 tons. In the 1930s over 350 men were employed at Dorothea. Production dropped significantly after the start of World War II and the quarry closed in 1970.[1]

Since quarrying ended in 1970, the Dorothea Quarry has flooded and become a popular site for scuba diving (even though there are no facilities provided, and diving is officially banned in the quarry); the unregulated nature and depth of the site has encouraged some divers to overestimate their capabilities – in the decade 1994-2004, 21 divers lost their lives in the quarry.[2]


The quarry sits at the bottom of the wide Nantlle valley and consists of six pits, the deepest dropping 106m from the surface. The slate veins here run vertically, allowing unusually deep vertical pits to be dug. Because the pits fall below the water table they needed to be constantly pumped to stay dry. A Cornish Beam Engine was installed in 1904 to pump the pits; it stayed in use until 1951 when it was replaced with electric pumps.[1]


The quarry was one of the first users of the 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Nantlle Railway in 1828. It later developed an extensive internal tramway system of 2 ft (610 mm) gauge. Dorothea was one of the first users of De Winton locomotives in 1869.[1]


2 ft (610 mm) gauge locomotives known to have worked at Dorothea.

Name Builder Works No. Date built Type Notes
Dorothea Hunslet 763 1901 0-4-0ST Worked until 1942. Now preserved on the Launceston Steam Railway[3]
Wendy W.G. Bagnall 2091 1919 0-4-0ST Purchased from the Votty & Bowydd Quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1930. Preserved by the Hampshire Narrow Gauge Railway Trust[4]


  1. ^ a b c Richards, Alun John. The Slate Regions of North and Mid Wales. pp. 70–71. 
  2. ^ "Why Dorothea claims lives". North-west Wales News. BBC Online. 2004-03-22. Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  3. ^ "Dorothea". Launceston Steam Railway. Archived from the original on 2014-11-08. 
  4. ^ "Dorothea Slate Quarry". The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum.