AN old abandoned village left to decay and decay has been reclaimed by nature.
In its heyday, Talysarn was once a thriving community, being close to a slate quarry in North West Wales.
It was part of a long belt of Cambrian slate that contained some of the largest and most productive slate quarries in the world.
The area was known to “roof the 19th century world” and remnants of its industrial past can still be seen today.
There were originally numerous mines and quarries along the Nantlle Valley in Gwynedd, but over time acquisitions and mergers have resulted in larger entities such as Dorothea Quarry.
The Dorothea quarry began operating in 1820 and remained in production until 1970.
Whilst the land on which the quarry was located belonged to Richard Garnons, William Turner of Lancaster was the main force for the quarry in the valley.
The quarry’s original name was Cloddfa Turner, but it was renamed Dorothea after Garnon’s wife.
Production increased to around 5,000 tons per year around the 1840s and to over 17,000 tons by the 1870s.
But while production was ramping up, there were also serious flooding problems.
In 1884, tragedy struck when several men drowned and the pit was flooded.
While the River Afon Llyfni was realigned and deepened to flow south of the slate quarry in 1895 to prevent some of the flooding problems, the need to pump water continuously became a constant drain on the quarry’s profits.
In 1904 the decision was made to install a Cornish beam machine on site to replace the water wheels.
The remains of the engine can still be found in Talysarn Village.
As quarries continued to expand in the Nantlle Valley, the old village had to be removed.
While the village was moved to the west, where around 2,000 people still live, some buildings of the old village still stand, albeit in ruins.
In 1927 the main road was relocated south of the valley, but the route of the old road can still be followed.
Modern photos show that nature has reclaimed the ancient village of Talysarn in Dorothea Quarry.
Daniel Start, author of Wild Guide Wales, described the remaining ruins as “Welsh Angkor Wat” – the famous ruined city in Cambodia.
He wrote: “Only the baboons are missing. It’s a huge wild place with many fascinating overgrown ruins including a Cornish blasting machine and the overgrown remains of the chapel at Plas Talysarn.’
Plas Talysarn or Talysarn Hall was built in the 18th century but later remodeled and enlarged in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The house had three floors and a basement.
While most of the hall’s roof is now missing, a few beams remain on the south-facing front wall.
Nearby is the entrance to the former stables and kennels, later converted into a shower area for the quarry workers.
Parts of the former boiler house can also still be seen and although the roof has largely disappeared, two dilapidated Lancashire boilers remain.
Other surrounding buildings are now covered in moss and tree roots have started to spread.
After the start of World War II, production at the quarry dropped significantly and the quarry eventually closed in 1970.
Since then, the Dorothea quarry has been flooded and the lake is more than 100 m deep in places.
The area is now part of the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales World Heritage Site, which was declared by Unesco in July 2021.