Slate quarrying at Aberbach (How to lose lots of money fast)


The lovely beach at Aberbach gives some clues. There’s slate nearby and the tiny quarries in the Dinas area were probably the earliest attempts to work slate in the region; George Owen, writing in the very early 1600s referred to sites near Newport which produced ’tiling stones’. The enterprise depended on transport by ship and the stone was loaded in the little ports of Cwm-yr-Eglwys and Newport to be sold around the country.  As late as the mid-nineteenth century companies were being formed, money raised on the stock market and fortunes lost.

The problem was that, in spite of the marketing which compared our slate favourably to the north Wales stone which roofed the world in the 18th and 19th centuries, the local blue slate often lost colour and flaked; with its high pyrite content it degraded quickly, causing roof timbers to rot and lichen to grow. Local people used it on their roofs but protected it with a layer of mortar.

Bank house

Bank House, Dinas, before the family bought the common land that now forms part of the front garden. The right-of-way had to be diverted so the path now goes straight up from the main road, to the left of the cottage.

There are still some signs in the cliff face of older slate workings, but the ‘Hescwm Slate and Slab’ company, formed with £30,000 in 1878 was dissolved in 1887, probably without any quarrying having been done. Later attempts to revive the company in the 1930s failed and it was noted anecdotally, “The slates were so poor the company went out of business”.

Slate quarrying Aberbach

Aberbach, Hescwm, Dinas, Pembs


For more information see “The Slate Quarries of Pembrokeshire’ by Alun John Richards, published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 1998.


About bookvolunteer

I'm passionate about books, about Oxfam and about making the world a better place. When I'm not filling the shelves in Oxfam Wilmslow, I might be found reading the books I've bought in the beautiful surroundings of North Pembrokeshire.
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1 Response to Slate quarrying at Aberbach (How to lose lots of money fast)

  1. Ann Hughes writes:
    As to the quarrying at Aberbach, there is plenty of evidence that it went on for many years. I remember when the Dinas Historical Society first started, a few of us went down to try to find out more about it and take some photos. We located platforms that had been used to load the slates into carts and Rex Harries retrieved several slates that would have been ready for transporting. I’ve got one here somewhere. John says that he’s come across several notices of sales going back to the 1860s in newspapers on line.

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