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The Penrhyn Slate Quarry

Photo credit: National Trust Images

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The slate quarry of Penrhyn was once one of the two largest in the world. The picture depicts the quarry from the lower side, showing in the middle distance Talcen Mawr or ‘Gibraltar rock’, blown up in 1895. Slate was used in schools, as blackboards and writing-slates and on buildings as roofing, cladding, shelves and cisterns. It became a popular tourist attraction, regarded as an example of a spectacular process of the Industrial Revolution and a new wonder of Nature developed by man. Princess Victoria, then 13 years old, visited the quarry on 8 September 1832, and described the event in her diary: "It was very curious to see the men split the slate, and others cut it while others hung suspended by ropes and cut the slate; others again drove wedges into a piece of rock and in that manner would split off a block.

National Trust, Penrhyn Castle





oil on canvas


H 137 x W 189 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

accepted by HM Treasury from Lady Janet Pelham and John Charles Harper, who assumed the name of Douglas-Pennant, in lieu of death duties from the estate of Hugh Napier Douglas Pennant, 4th Baron Penrhyn of Llangedai, and allocated to the National Trust, 1951

Work type



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Normally on display at

National Trust, Penrhyn Castle

Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 4HN Wales

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