SLATE MINING MUSEUM & ELECTIC MOUNTAIN
I have to say neither of these sounded like the sort of thing I would normally enjoy, but speaking to folk I met during my short stay at Llanberis both were highly recommended, in particular Electric Mountain, whatever that was, so phoning I managed to book for Electric Mountain in the afternoon, which gave me the morning to look round the Slate Museum.
In the event, the Slate Museum was surprisingly interesting with lots of machinery (probably of even more interest to those who like machinery) and a row of slate miners cottages, which had been restored and fitted out to show how folk had lived over the lifetime of the slate mine, which had provided employment for up to about 3000 men, and was the second largest slate quarry in the world, exporting its wares all over Britain and even the continent and North America. It peaked in production towards the end of the 19th C when alternative roofing materials began to be introduced, and the quarry closed in 1969.
There was an absolutely huge working water mill, and a demonstration of how to cut slate. All in all an interesting morning, then back to Thebus to check on Phoebe before tackling Electric Mountain
I had done some research before going, and knew a little of what to expect, and as there were strictly no cameras allowed you will have not photos. Though I fail to see the point of no cameras in something like the Ladies of Llangollen museum I can quite understand it at Electric Mountain.
Electric Mountain is closely linked with the life, and ultimate decease of the slate quarry. For years the miners had desecrated the mountain, carving terraces on its slopes and tunnelling deep inside, if these working could be put to use, and the vast hydro electric power station hidden inside, then the landscape would work in harmony rather than clash.
The original purpose of the scheme had been to deal with the difficulty had large numbers of nuclear power stations been built, as they have no flexibility in power output. Times have changed, but today the station, which is actually named Dinorwig was the slate mine - is operated to provide a fast response for short term peaks in usage, such as the end of a popular TV program when everyone switches on the kettle. And to this end there is actually someone watching the programmes to anticipate demand.
It is an exceptionally clever design. At the top of the mountain is a lake, and at the bottom another. When there is a surplus of power in the national grid, as when we are all asleep, cheap off peak electric is used to pump water to the top reservoir. It stays there ready for action at the touch of a button.
In less than 16 seconds the water rushes to the six massive, and I mean massive, generating units, which stand underground in Europe’s largest man made cavern. The surge shaft to carry the water is 16m across, and the water flows at 60 cubic meters per second.
The design is so clever it is breathtaking. Now this is what alternative technology should be about.
The tour takes quite a long time, and one is ferried around the 16 kilometres of tunnel by bus. A very worth while trip both exciting and interesting