Slate Industry of North and Mid Wales
narrow gauge tramways ran on many different types of track and
these were unique to the industry, or even the individual
Trackwork in the quarries themselves and particularly in the
was often of indifferent quality but the ability to access
rapidly was considered of more importance. The use of
easily movable track and pointwork was widespread and several
designs were evolved. This type of tramway was only ever
for wagons, locomotives demanded a far higher standard of
to operate on. The major difference from main line
practice was the
widespread use of wagons which had flanges on both sides of
the wheel as
opposed to a single flange on the inside. There was also
use of wheels which were loose on the axle rather than fixed
wagon to cope with minor variations in the track gauge without
Double flanged wheels and variable axles were unsuitable for
any great duration and, with the exception of the Penrhyn
was laid out for double axle operation, all other locomotive
of any length conformed to normal railway standards. The
railway museum, near Bangor has an excellent display of
tracks and pointwork.
example of pointwork has no moving parts. Wagons
were pushed from
behind and 'encouraged'
to go in the direction required.
type is known as a 'Spoon Point'. Access to the
siding was obtained
by lifting the two sections of
hinged track to align with the main line - one
fitted over each rail.
gain access to the diverging track, the three metal strips
known as pointers
were realigned by hand.
is a main line turnout suitable for locomotives and double
was worked remotely by using a point lever.
Hughes rail' was invented by an engineer at Penrhyn
Quarry. The rail
consists of a round metal bar turned down at the ends
which plugged into
metal fixings. In some cases slabs of slate with
drilled holes were
used as sleepers.
example of a flat crossing designed for double flanged
was a steel prefabricated system which saw widespread use
quarries from the 1920's onwards. The point is
designed for double
flanged wheel use.
sleepers were a common way of supporting lightly used
to a transfer
table at the bottom of an incline. The lack of a
continuous line of rails
is not a big problem with double flanged wheels.
page: Steam locos of the slate railways
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