Historic Landscape Characterisation

Vale of Ffestiniog - Area 11 Croesor

The village was developed by Hugh Beaver Roberts, owner of the Croesor estate, as part of the plan to develop the area’s mineral resources. It is likely that much of the village dates from the mid-1860s, when the tramway was laid along the valley, though there are some later 19th-century houses.

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, 100017916, 2005

Historic background

The small village of Croesor is a 19th-century quarry village situated on the course of the 18th-century turnpike from Tan y Bwlch to Nanmor. It developed mainly to house quarrymen who worked in the Rhosydd and Croesor quarries. The Croesor quarry first opened about 1856. After a troubled start, Moses Kellow, the quarry’s last manager, took it in hand in 1895; it was then efficiently worked as a consolidated holding with the Parc Quarry until its closure in 1930. Moses Kellow was considered a fearless innovator. It was he who devised much of the machinery used in the quarry. He was also responsible for installing electricity there and in his home, when the large-scale 350kw hydro-electric plant was opened in 1904.

Between 1865 and 1930, 2,000 tons of slate were produced each year. Slate was prepared for several purposes – billiard table tops were made in the Parc Quarry, together with chimney slabs, gravestones, flooring slabs, lintels and ornamental products. The final product was initially carted to the Ffestiniog Railway at Penrhyndeudraeth, but after 1864 it was taken down to Croesor Tramway, part of which may still be walked, using the incline. Another spectacular incline may be seen at the top of Cwm Croesor – the Rhosydd incline. This was used to carry goods up and down from the Quarry. Men also travelled on the incline although the managers strictly forbade it.

Bob Owen Croesor (1885-1962), a well-known native of Llanfrothen, was in turn a farm worker and shepherd, a clerk at the Parc and Croesor Quarry under Moses Kellow, a worker at the Rural Council Offices and a lecturer with the Workers’ Education Association. He took great interest in genealogy in Wales, collecting rare books and copying parish records, and became an expert on the history of the Quakers. At his home, Ael y Bryn, next door to the chapel, he collected an enormous library of books, papers and manuscripts, and Americans visited him for help in tracing their ancestry. He was awarded an MA by the University of Wales, and an OBE, for his contribution to his country’s culture.

Key historic landscape characteristics

19th-century slate quarry village, tramway

Croesor is a small settlement of a number of houses, a chapel and a school. The use of large coursed stones from quarries within the immediate vicinity is a feature of the village. The buildings are substantial, with many of the houses being two-storey, short terraces set parallel to the steep hill-slope and all looking out to the south-east. With their large windows, they could certainly not be described as cottgaes but as lareg terreced houses. There are a few 20th century buildings in the village, and a few outlyers between the core and the main road down to Garreg, which passes over a well-constructed part-stone, part-slate bridge. The course of the old Croesor tramway, which was responsible for the growth of the settlement, with a superb slate fence along one side for much of its course, runs through the bottom of the settlement next to the river, and can, in large part, be walked.


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