Opened in around 1850 (possibly the late 1840s), the Deeside Tramway operated for almost 100 years before closing in 1947. The Nant y Pandy slate mill was a processing site working the slate that came out of the Deeside quarry (137405). The mill was serviced by a gravity and horse worked wooden railed tramway which was unusual even by 1850. Embedded into the ground and sheathed with iron, these wooden rails serviced the slate mills for the duration of its lifespan.
The scars of the tramway are still visible in the landscape.
Horses were hired from local farmers to pull the wagons up the hill, before being released back to their owners in the afternoon. The slate was brought down from the Deeside Slab Quarry, and the Moel Ferna Quarry and worked into slabs at the Nant y Pandy Mill. The tools used at the Mill were powered by an enormous water wheel, using the carefully channelled waters from the fast flowing stream. At the end of the day, the slate would be brought down, with the workers riding the wagons in what must have been something of a thrill, slowed when necessary by a handbrake used by a worker standing on the back bumper. On the steeper inclines, and perhaps in poor weather, a series of ropes and winches were used.
The wooden track has now gone, but the line of the tramway is still clear, running down to the station
The ruins of many of the workshops are still visible, though nature is swiftly reclaiming the site.
During the 1870s, the tramway was extended to the south west to service the Moel Fferna quarry (124398), and north across the A5 to link with Glyndyfrdwy Station at a trans-shipment, wooden gantry platform, which is still visible beneath a play area at the station. These extensions were iron railed. Linking the tramway with the Ruabon-Dolgellau Line enabled the high quality slates to be transported all over the world. Slates from Glyndyfrdwy have been used for tombs, headstones and flagstones throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia. The tramway closed not long after the Second World War, as competition increased.
Today, it is possible to trace almost the entire length of the tramway from the station at Glyndyfrdwy to the Deeside Slab Quarry. Many of the buildings used by the workers at the Nant y Pandy Mill are still visible amongst the undergrowth, as is the enormous housing for the water wheel. There are no traces of the rails remaining, but the route is clear and the embankments that carried the wooden rails are easily recognised.
Sturdy walking shoes and a good few hours are required to fully appreciate the area, and the views of the Berwyns and the Llantysilio Mountains are worth the effort in themselves. The walk along the clearly marked footpath is stunning and well worth the effort.
The walls which held the enormous water wheel used to power the tools used to work the slates, brought down from the quarries further up in the Berwyns.