THE INDUSTRIAL RAILWAY RECORD

No. 7 - p141

© SEPTEMBER 1965

DINAS QUARZITE MINE

A. D. SEMMENS

    The Dinas (Quartzite Mine at Pontneathvaughan, owned by RTB (Richard Thomas & Baldwins Ltd.) is probably rarely visited but in any case is well worth description. As well as being out of the way, and as a further trap to the unwary, the place is shown on all maps in the Welsh fashion, Pont-nedd-Fechan.

    A minor road leads off to the left just after the Onllwyn road has left the main Neath to Hirwaun road in Glynneath. This road continues for about a mile and a half into the village of Pontneathvaughan, where a right fork is taken on to the minor of two roads . Continuing for about half-a-mile the road ends and you take the right hand side of a pillared gateway, immediately turning right into a quarry. This is the disposal point for the quartzite which is conveyed to the mine by aerial ropeway. To get to the mine the left hand track is taken, passing under a structure something like a church lych-gate, which is a protection against any falls from the aerial ropeway. The track bears sharp left under another lych-gate and winds its way up through a valley with steep cliffs. About six hundred yards on the track ends at a most beautiful spot – a tumbling waterfall with lovely vegetation and scenery. At this point the rail track begins with a wooden bridge on a gradient of about 1 in 3, spanning a gap to the cliff top. This is the only way into the mine, and everything is brought up this way From the top of the incline the railtrack winds its way upwards on a very gentle incline, slowly curving right. The incline then steepens sharply to about 1 in 15 on a short haul to the top, where it turns sharply left into the mine adit.

    The mine closed for production in September 1962, being officially "stopped temporarily". Only the manager and one other man were working here in August 1963, and the manager was delighted to take me down the mine to see his one remaining locomotive. We proceeded to light acetylene lamps, and wound our way down the rather wet workings to a dry spot about four hundred yards down where stood 69, a four-wheel diesel, Ruston & Hornsby 201996 of 1940. Very obviously exGovernment, Mr. Thomas said it had been received from a London dealer about three years ago; another Ruston diesel had gone back to him in part exchange. Two other Rustons had been sent down to RTB’s Landore works when the mine closed, as both wanted attention, and they are now in store there following overhaul. (A visitor to the mine in May 1961 noted three Ruston diesels – 217980/46, 223730/46 and 277292/49 – but not the one cited above which presumably was down the mine at the time. – Hon. Records Officer.)

    The mine has been worked since the 1830's, and there are some fairly steep cable inclines going down into the bowels most of which are now flooded. The present modus operandi is cable operation to an adit top immediately above the one which forms the mine entrance where a very small gantry line leads to the aerial ropeway. The latter climbs up one side of the bill, and from there the topmost pylon carries the full strain of the drop to the bottom; the manager said it was the longest aerial ropeway span in the country. is proud of his mine although its future is one with a large question mark. Quartzite is extensively used for steelworks furnace linings but demand has dropped sharply, for RTB's new Spencer works uses none at all.