Explore a disused Welsh slate mine with Corris Mine Explorers

Corris Mine Exploration for School & Youth Parties

How we fit with the National Curriculum in Wales

A school party exploring mining history underground at Braich Goch slate mineA school party exploring mining history underground at Braich Goch slate mine [+]

Corris Mine Explorers provides an exciting setting for a school visit and fits well with the programmes of study for Geography, History and RE. The nature of the exploration lends itself to all parts of the skills based framework. Strong links can be made with the Curriculum Cymreig and Wales, Europe and the Wider World, Personal and Social Education and Careers and the World of Work. More subtle links, depending on the choice of follow up work, can be made with Communication, Thinking, ICT and Numeracy.



The nearby village of Corris, a typical Welsh slate quarrying villageThe nearby village of Corris, a typical Welsh slate quarrying village [+]

The Corris Mine Explorers visit takes pupils inside the hills above the village of Corris to hidden caverns and miles of underground tunnels which have been dug by miners to extract tonnes of slate. The human processes on this physical environment are obvious deep inside the old slate mine as well as in the village of Corris itself. The village, which is a short 5 minute walk from Corris Craft Centre, is constructed, primarily out of slate; the roofs of houses, boundaries and footpath coverings all use the indigenous material creating a sense of place and true identity for the settlement. Furthermore, Corris Craft Centre (the starting point for Corris Mine Explorers) is built on reclaimed land formally used for mining slate.

During the Corris Mine Exploration pupils can enjoy stories of life in the mine. They will learn about the impacts which the extraction of slate had on the tiny village of Corris.

Corris Mine Explorers could also be used as a case study when looking at how and why places and environments change i.e. the increased global demand for slate resulted in improved extraction techniques and a buoyant slate mining industry for Corris. This growth had many knock-on effects in the village of Corris including an increased demand for local housing, opening of new shops and improvements in infrastructure with the narrow-gauge Corris Railway being built to join the mainline railway at Machynlleth.

Safety is paramount on our underground toursSafety is paramount on our underground tours [+]

Corris Mine Explorers, and nearby attractions, could be used as a case study for tourism and / or business studies. Also starting from the Corris Craft Centre is King Arthur’s Labyrinth which uses a different part of the old Welsh slate mine as a theatrical back drop to retell stories relating to King Arthur and taken from the Mabinogion. Lost Legends of The Stone Circle is a further attraction and consists of a simple maze which students can navigate to find 8 mythical stories, intriguing characters and The Stone Circle. The Corris Craft Centre itself is home to 8 individual craft studios where the skills of the designer-makers can be seen on a daily basis. Many of the designer-makers offer hands-on opportunities for students to produce their own crafts. The Craft Centre provides a useful link with Art and Design and Design and Technology.


Corris Mine Explorers provides a stimulating setting for pupil engagement. During the visit students will be able to grasp a thorough understanding of daily life in a Welsh slate mine from 1836 to the early 1970s. The visit includes exploration of the immense caverns and tunnels dug out by the miners, many relics from the past are contained in the mine including tools, machinery, candles and health and safety records. The exploration also focuses on the political, economic, social, religious and cultural history of the mine during these times. The mine provides a natural link to the Curriculum Cymreig and Wales, Europe and the Wider World skills based framework.

To provide a further insight into daily life during these times, a visit to the village of Corris, can be included. A short guided walk around the village will include evidence of shops and businesses which operated during the early 1900s; a visit to the Corris Railway Museum which extended to Corris in 1859, provides a further insight into infrastructural developments at this time.

The Corris Mine Explorers visit provides further linkage opportunities with other areas of the skills based framework. When considering Linkages to the Wider World, the visit includes details of global slate exportation and how and when this was achieved. Further work could include the use of timelines to map important events linked with the mine’s history, the use of maps illustrating national and global slate exportation at different points in times, studying of the Corris census returns (held in the Dolgellau Record Office and accessible at www.ancestory.com) could be incorporated to detect peaks and troughs in line with the relative productivity of the mine.


The Corris Mine Explorers visit considers the importance of religious worship to the miners and how the mining operations were structured to enable regular worship. The village of Corris once had 11 chapels and 1 church, of these just Salem Chapel and the Holy Trinity Church now open for worship. Grave stones of former Braich Goch miners can be found in the village grave yards, providing a further angle of study and a link to Careers and the World of Work.

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All photographs by Jon Knowles, Paul Kay and Neil Buckland

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