Cloddfa Pedr (Peter's Quarry)

by Mel

Cloddfa Pedr is a long abandoned slate quarry that used to be connected to the Wetton Gooey Light Railway via an incline. However, (as was the case with so many Welsh slate quarries) it barely lasted past the second world war and now lies silent on the slopes above the railway being gradually smothered by Mother Nature, it's only visitor being the occasional sheep sheltering from the wind inside the remaining walls of the winding house.

Why Cloddfa Pedr? Well, the inspiration for this "outside diorama" came from one man, the late, great Peter Jones. Hence "Peter's Quarry" (assuming that the English to Welsh translation page of Cardiff Uni's website is accurate?). I never met Peter, but we often exchanged emails and he was incredibly supportive when I was developing the WGLR. I remember Peter once wrote that he sometimes caught his wife looking out of the kitchen window with tears in her eyes as she surveyed the scenes on Peter's Compton Down garden railway with it's factories belching out real smoke and surrounded by rusting hulks and wagons. Sadly, I'll never be able to email Peter a few photo's of my abandoned quarry, but maybe he's able to look down on it from time to time with a wry smile? Like me, he was a man who really appreciated rust.

In many ways this is the most realistic stretch of railway in our garden. It really is not connected in any way to the track of the WGLR, it really is just sitting there being subjected to everything the British climate can throw at it and it really is being slowly overgrown by the plants that share it's location. The track is just a couple of feet of ancient LGB planted in soil so that only the rails are (barely) visible. The remains of the winding house are made from cheap shuttering and will one day rot away - maybe they will be replaced, maybe they will simply be allowed to disappear. The site is just a raised bed between the back of the garage (must come up with a way of hiding that brick wall some day?) and the steps up to the water butt, surrounded by crumbling stone walls covered in moss. The plants (Peris, London Pride, Solomon Seals, Bluebelles, Ferns and Hardy Fuscias) grow over, alongside and even through the various models which have been posed in the quarry. Although it will never see any shunting operations, signs of life (other than the odd sheep) or other movement, I find that it still gives me as much satisfaction as any "working" model.

The abandoned rolling stock consists of a couple of ex Big Big Train skip wagons, an O Gauge Lima gondola (in use as a improvised buffer stop), a converted Hartland gondola explosives wagon and four Binnie skips. There's also a rusty old baked bean can in there somewhere. The raised track behind the winding house sits on a wall of slate chippings held together with silicone. Many years ago the quarry was a favourite place for courting couples and local yobs up to no good. It was by no means unknown for people to use the place to dump rubbish including the occasional knackered car. The yobs loved to find a car that still had it's wheels so that they could roll it down the incline where it would meet it's sticky end. The evidence of this high jinx is now disappearing into the undergrowth.

So there you have Cloddfa Pedr. It's not got a lot of operating potential (none in fact) and it certainly ain't pretty. But I love it and I hope that Peter would have done too. After all, there's plenty of rusty stuff to look at.