North West Wales

Anglesey divers recover slate wagon from Llyn Padarn

Divers with the wagon Image copyright Ceidiog

Scuba divers have used a giant inflatable balloon to raise a wagon once used to transport Welsh slate more than 110 years ago from the bottom of a lake in Snowdonia.

Members of Rhosneigr Sub-Aqua Club, Anglesey, were diving at Llyn Padarn, in Llanberis, when the wagon was found.

It had been used to transport slate from the nearby Dinorwic Quarry to Dinorwic seaport at Y Felinheli.

The wagon will now go on display at Llanberis Lake Railway's museum.

Image copyright Ceidiog

The divers first spotted the piece of industrial history two years ago and returned to recover it two months ago.

Club diving officer Rob Geal, 30, from Newborough, said eight divers used a 220lb (100kg) lifting bag, "which is basically a balloon that can be taken underwater, attached to an object and then inflated to bring it gradually to the surface".

"It's heavily silted on the lake bed which can affect the visibility but after about four hours we'd managed to completely raise the wagon to the surface," he added.

"When we examined it we found that quite a bit of it was still intact, including the wooden chassis, one of the four metal wheels it originally had, a wrought iron shaft connecting the wheel to the axle and a piece of wrought iron for connecting it to other wagons."

Image copyright Ceidiog
Image caption The wagon in the lake
Image copyright Ceidiog

The wagon, which measures about 4ft (1.2m) long and 3ft (0.9m) wide, is believed to have run to the port along the old Padarn Railway, which closed in 1969 after work at the quarry ended.

It is believed that because of its wooden base, the recovered wagon may be one of the earlier types used and would have dated back to before 1900.

Image caption The wagon is believed to have fallen into the lake from a railway line

Mr Gear added: "It's great to think that we've recovered a piece of the region's industrial history."

Emlyn Pritchard, manager of Llanberis Lake Railway, said he was delighted the club decided to pass the wagon to them.

"It's part of the heritage of this railway and the whole area and as such is an important industrial artefact," he said.

"The divers found it close to the edge of the lake wall and I assume that at some time it fell off the tracks into the water."

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