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Coming soon: Industrial Penrhyn

Two visitors inside a steam locomotive looking at the engine at Penrhyn Castle
Visitors explore the steam locomotive 'Charles' at Penrhyn Castle | © National Trust Images/Rob Stothard

The stable block is closed whilst we develop a new experience arriving later in 2024. For updates and further information, please check back here.

With the development of the Penrhyn Quarry Railway in 1798, the slate industry in North Wales catapulted to a global scale and changed the face of North Wales forever.

This year, we are working to develop a new experience in the Stable Block to share stories of Penrhyn’s industrial history and bring to the forefront items in the collection that haven’t been shared before.

A number of locomotives and wagons that are linked to the Penrhyn Quarry will remain on display, including Charles which ran on the Penrhyn Quarry Railway until the 1950’s and will take centre stage in telling this remarkable story and will continue to provide an engaging experience for visitors.

We have been reviewing the way we display our collection as we look at how history is presented at Penrhyn Castle and we have re-homed some of the locomotives that are unconnected to Penrhyn Castle’s story to other museums, where their stories can be better explained and interpreted.

As part of our new offer, we’re excited to share that we will have a photography exhibition ‘Chwarelwyr – Quarrymen’ coming to the Stable Block by renowned photographer Carwyn Rhys Jones in 2024.

We also have some exciting work happening in the castle this year to re-frame The Penrhyn Slate Quarry painting by Henry Hawkins. As part of the reframing work, we’ll be working with local groups to bring their voices into the castle through a new exhibition.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you back this year and sharing with you more of Penrhyn Castle’s history.

Things to see in Industrial Penrhyn

Today you can see a wide selection of engines, carriages, rolling stock and tools on display. A film offers a good insight into the previous lives of some of the engines on display.

Steam engine detail at the Railway Museum, Penrhyn Castle, Wales
Steam engine detail at the Railway Museum, Penrhyn Castle, Wales | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris


Charles, a saddle tank locomotive, has close connections with Penrhyn. Charles was one of the so called 'main line' engines used at Penrhyn Quarry. Built by Hunslet Engine Co in 1882, Charles worked until the 1950s and was later restored.

Owing to the deterioration of the boiler, Charles was stored in the engine shed at Port Penrhyn from around 1958. He was placed on permanent loan to the National Trust in 1963 by courtesy of Penrhyn Quarry.

The Penrhyn quarrymen’s open coach

This is one of the coaches that ran on the main line of the quarry in Bethesda. It belonged to the Quarrymen’s Train, an institution arranged and financed by the men to move them to and from the quarry.

The train and coach made its last run on 9 February 1953 and the coach was placed on permanent loan to the Trust in 1963 by Penrhyn Quarries.

The Penrhyn saloon coach

This coach can now be seen with Charles and was built in around 1882, together with the new main line of Penrhyn Quarries Ltd and was used by Lord Penrhyn and his agent for journeys between their company headquarters at Port Penrhyn and the Quarry in Bethesda.

Penrhyn Quarry officials' car

This quite ornate looking car or cart was used to transport officials and visitors around over 50 miles of tracks that once covered the Penrhyn Quarries in Bethesda. It is thought to date from the late 19th century and could seat 6 people.

Visitors at the Railway Museum at Penrhyn Castle and Garden, North Wales
Visitors at the Railway Museum at Penrhyn Castle and Garden, North Wales | © National Trust Images/Rob Stothard

Merryweather Fire Engine

A horse-drawn fire engine, built by Merryweather of London. With no National Fire Service stately homes had to provide their own firefighting equipment and men. This fire engine has sideways-facing seats for the crew and a separate front seat for the driver.

A twin cylinder vertical steam engine is fitted behind the boiler for driving the pump that was uprated to allow water to be directed to the height of Penrhyn Castle’s Keep tower.

Hugh Napier

Hugh Napier is a Saddle Tank locomotive built by the Hunslet Engine Company Ltd in Leeds in 1904 and spent its entire working life at Penrhyn Quarry.

It has been lovingly restored by the National Trust and the Ffestiniog Railway Company, where it now resides, coming back to visit us here at the Castle on special occasions. The engine was named after the 4th Baron Penrhyn.

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