Powder House – a hidden gem at Porth y Nant
by Geraint Jones
This truly fantastic building is the Porth y Nant powder house, otherwise known as ‘the magazine’, specifically for Porth y Nant quarry, hanging on at the very edge of a remote cliff it stands like a beacon keeping an eye out for the village.
Each quarry had its own ‘magazine’ if not two, depending on how much powder they used. This is where they kept the black powder for the blasting, it was a good distance from the quarry as black powder had a habit of just going off very much at random, and if you had a couple of tonnes in there, trust me – you’d stay well away from the building!
For sett production they still used black powder up until the end of production (1910ish) as it had a very slow burn time and it produced a very soft and slow blast. It traditionally has the effect of fracturing the rock rather than blasting it into many pieces. This was the same procedure as they used in the Slate quarries more inland.
They were very well built due to safety and safe storage requirements. In its prime it would have been lined with wood in order to keep it dry. The roof itself is truly amazing, vaulted and built out of the quarry’s very own setts.
It’s worth a visit!