Tuesday, June 14, 2016

North Wales Part 6: Blaneau Ffestiniog Slate Mines

Hi everyone. We had an awesome day yesterday and are excited to tell you about it. But first, here's a rundown of Sunday. We slept in, relaxed, and went to the movies. But at 8:00 pm, we went to a Welsh male voice choir concert, which was beautiful. So after our day of rest and relaxation, we wanted to do something exciting. We headed out around noon to go to Blaneau Ffestiniog, a Victorian town that boomed in the slate industry. We found a cafe to have lunch in, sandwiches for us, before we headed over to the slate mine. This mine was huge. After purchasing tickets, we walked around and downs a little playground, that we played on for about half an hour. We also found a few pieces of slate we wanted to take home. After that, it was time to go to where our tour started. We all got helmets with headlamps, for safety. Then we took a col car down the track 350 feet into the mine. The tour was interesting, and it was so cool to see the equipment the miners used, and also the utter scale of the large man made caverns. A few things I found interesting is that a boy would first go down to mine aged 8, and would start work at 12. The lifespan of a miner was sadly only 40-45 years. Lastly, considering how dangerous the work was, only 9 miners died in the first 20 years the mine was open. Below is a picture of one of the giant caverns made to extract slate.
The way miners make the caverns is that the would dig holes, put gunpowder in them, and blow the gunpowder up. We got to try using the tools to dig the holes for the gunpowder. It was so heavy, and it hurt! We also got to try the way miners extract slate. They put a chain around their thigh, and let go to pick up slate. We also learned about a special job called the danger man. He would go up on a ladder to the top of a cavern and knock down any loose rocks. It was scary, but cool! Lastly, we saw a guy whose job was to split the slate. It's amazing how thin they got it with such basic tools!
   Overall, we'd say the Slate Mines were EXCELLENT!

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