Welsh Slate: quarrying in safety thanks to two-way radio

A rented radio system helps to ensure safe and productive operation of a quarry in North Wales. Richard Lambley investigates

A sharp left turn off the main road, an awkward zigzag as we pass under a railway bridge, and we’re on a narrow lane bordered by dry stone walls, heading steadily upward. Passing cottages and a converted chapel, we cross meadows and open moorland as the lane continues up the mountainside towards the tops of Snowdonia.

“I hope we’re not going to meet the tipper truck coming down,” says Colin Rogers a little anxiously, scanning the road ahead over his steering wheel. “Last time I was here I had to reverse half a mile to find a passing place.”

Rogers is responsible for business development at Lancashire-based mobile radio supplier In Touch, and today we’re on our way to visit one of its customer sites – Cwt y Bugail, one of three quarries in Snowdonia operated by Welsh Slate.

Luckily the tipper is busy elsewhere, and high above the valley we round a bend beside a mound of waste slate to arrive in the quarry yard. Ahead are two sheds where slate blocks from the pit are sawn and split into finished products.

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