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Cwt y Bugail Quarry (Bwlch-y-Slaters Quarry; New Manod Quarry), Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, Wales, UK

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Other/historical region names associated with this locality: Merionethshire
A predominately underground slate quarry/mine with a fascinating secret history.

NB This is not the (nearby) location more generally known to collectors as Manod Quarry and a location for blue anatase and other alpine-type minerals (see Manod Quarry (Manod New Setts)).

First worked in the mid 19th century, and known variously as Bwlch-y-Slaters Quarry or [New] Manod Quarry, it was acquired in 2001 by McAlpine, the world's largest slate company, and renamed Cwt y Bugail Quarry. Closed in September 2007, Cwt y Bugail Quarry supplied high quality blocks, slabs and paving but not roofing slate. The last rock worked here was granite used for the exterior facing on Mount Snowdon's new summit complex.

More recently, the quarry has become famous for being the secret repository where Britain's national art treasures were stored during the Second World War. Pictures from the royal palaces, from the Tate and the National Gallery, including 19 Rembrandts, Van Dykes, Leonardo da Vincis and Gainsboroughs, together with the Crown Jewels were brought to Manod's huge underground workings in vehicles disguised as delivery vehicles for a chocolate company.

Although again part worked for slate in the 1960s, the Government continued to lease part of the mine workings for 40 years until 1981, the heated ventilation system installed to protect the art treasures being maintained throughout this period. Although the masterpieces were removed when peace returned, the Department of the Environment was strangely unwilling to vacate the site. (Classified documents made pubic in 2002 have since revealed that in 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, secret plans were developed to move the nation's most important art treasures back to Manod to safeguard them from nuclear attack. The plan was abandoned because officials feared the potential impact on the public of hiding its art treasures might lead to chaos as people realised they should flee London). Finally in 1983, following a long court battle by a local quarry owner, the Government surrendered control of the caverns.

A further claim to fame is that part of the 1983 Dr Who series “The Five Doctors” was filmed at McAlpine’s Cwt y Bugail Quarry.

Mineral List

4 entries listed. 3 valid minerals.

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