Inside forgotten village left to rot and covered in woodland after being reclaimed by nature | The Sun

Inside forgotten village left to rot and covered in woodland after being reclaimed by nature | The Sun

May 28, 2023

AN old abandoned village left to rot and decay has been reclaimed by nature.

In its heyday Talysarn was once a thriving community thanks to it being situated near a slate quarry in northwest Wales.

It was part of a long belt of Cambrian slate which was the location of some of the largest and most productive slate quarries in the world.

The area was known to have “roofed the 19th century world” and remnants of the industrial past are still standing to this day.

Originally, there were numerous pits and quarries along the Nantlle valley in Gwynedd but over time takeovers and amalgamations formed larger units, such as the Dorothea quarry.

The Dorothea quarry started up in 1820 and remained in production until 1970.

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While the land the quarry was on was owned by Richard Garnons the main force for quarrying in the valley was William Turner from Lancaster.

The original name of the quarry was Cloddfa Turner but it was renamed as Dorothea after Garnons' wife.

By around the 1840s production had risen to around 5,000 tonnes per annum and by the 1870s this had grown to more than 17,000 tonnes.

But while production was soaring it was also facing serious flooding problems.

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Tragedy struck in 1884 when several men were drowned and the pit was engulfed.

While the Afon Llyfni river was realigned and deepened to flow to the south of the slate quarry in 1895 to stop some of the flooding issues, the need to continually pump out water became a constant drain on the quarry’s profits.

The decision was taken in 1904 to install a Cornish beam engine on site replace the waterwheels.

The remains of the engine can still be found in the village of Talysarn.

As the quarries of the Nantlle Valley continued to expand it led to the removal of the old village.

While the village was relocated to the west, where it is still home to around 2,000 people, some of the old village’s buildings are still standing even if they are in ruins.

In 1927 the main road to the south of the valley was relocated but the route of the old road can still be followed.

Modern day photos show that nature has reclaimed the old Talysarn village at Dorothea quarry.

Daniel Start, the author of Wild Guide Wales described the ruins that remain as being like a “Welsh Angkor Wat” – the famed ruined city in Cambodia.

He wrote: "Only the baboons are missing. It's a vast, wild site with many fascinating, overgrown ruins, including a Cornish beam engine and the overgrown remains of the chapel at Plas Talysarn."

Plas Talysarn, or Talysarn Hall, was built during the 18th century but later modified and extended in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The house was three storeys high plus a basement.

While most of the roof of the hall is now missing, some timbers have survived over the south facing front wall.

Close by, the entrance to what was once the stable block and kennels can be found which was later turned into a shower block for the quarrymen.

Parts of the former boiler house can still be seen too, and while its roof has largely gone, two deteriorated Lancashire boilers remain.

Other surrounding buildings are now covered in moss and tree roots have started to take over.

Production at the quarry fell off significantly after the start of the Second World War and it was eventually closed in 1970.

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Dorothea Quarry has since flooded with the lake more than 100m deep in places.

The area is now part of the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales World Heritage Site which was announced by Unesco in July 2021.

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