Vision in Grey

Vision in Grey

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Now and then IV: Tanrhiw Road, Tregarth

Tanrhiw Road, Tregarth

Tanrhiw Road, Tregarth

Date

21 September 2014
Location

Tregarth

SH 60380 68039; 53.19104°N, 4.09121°W

Information

During the Great Strike of 1900-1903 at his slate quarry in Bethesda, the 2nd Baron Penrhyn built a row of houses in the nearby village of Tregarth as accommodation for strike-breaking quarrymen. Locally known as Stryd y Gynffon (Traitors’ Row), Tanrhiw Road was laid out next to the railway station on the Bethesda branch of the London and North Western Railway (LNWR), which had opened in 1884. Passenger traffic on this branch line ceased in 1951 and the track was completely closed in 1963, with the station being demolished in the 1980s. A community centre and recreation ground now occupy the site of the former railway and station.

 

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Now and then I: Penrhyn Quarry

Penrhyn Quarry from Pantdreiniog, Bethesda

Penrhyn Quarry from Pantdreiniog, Bethesda – Now and Then

Date

13 September 2014
Location

Pantdreiniog, Bethesda

SH 62359 66882; 53.18116°N, 4.06111°W

Information

Pantdreiniog slate quarry in Bethesda opened c 1825 with local proprietors. Its ownership subsequently changed a number of times and in the 1890s it was sold to a Cardiff company by Liverpool builder John Williams, who had worked it for close to 40 years. In 1903 it was acquired by a London company created with the purpose of providing work for striking quarrymen from Penrhyn Quarry. Little evidence is visible today of the workings at this quarry, most of the site now being landscaped open ground at the back of the High Street.

 

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Great Strike Memorial, Bethesda

Great Strike Memorial in the garden of the Welsh Presbyterian Jerusalem Chapel, Bethesda

Great Strike Memorial in the garden of the Welsh Presbyterian Jerusalem Chapel, Bethesda

Date

27 September 2014
Location

Bethesda

SH 62443 66693; 53.17948°N, 4.05979°W

Information

This slate slab was placed in the garden of Jerusalem Chapel (Welsh Presbyterian Church) in Bethesda in 2000, the centenary of the start of the Great Strike, which commenced on 22 November 1900 and lasted for three years. The monument was erected by the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU), with which the Quarrymen’s Union had merged in the 1950s, and which, in turn, later became part of the Unite union.

At the end of the 19th century, Penrhyn Quarry, owned by George Sholto Gordon Douglas-Pennant (1836 – 1907), 2nd Baron Penrhyn of Llandygai, was the largest slate quarry in the world and had a workforce of 2,800 men. When George Sholto assumed control of the quarry he set about reforming its management to maximise his profits and started by disbanding the elected quarrymen’s committee that had played a role in the administration of the quarry under his father’s ownership. Conditions at the quarry were dangerous and extremely harsh, and the rewards for the quarrymen meagre. Following a number of disputes, the North Wales Quarrymen’s Union was formed in 1874 and an 11-month strike in 1896 was unsuccessful in securing a minimum wage. In 1900, union activities at the quarry were banned which sparked a series of events that culminated in what was to become the longest industrial dispute in British history. All the workers withdrew their labour and the quarry was closed until June 1901 when only 242 men returned to work, joined by a number of new recruits. Despite the dire hardships, the strikers held out for three years before returning to the quarry after the General Federation of Trade Unions stopped paying strike pay to the men. During this period many had left the area in search of work elsewhere and the divisive effects of the conflict were to be felt by the community for generations to come.

What I Saw At Bethesda

The reformist newspaper The Daily News, which had been founded in 1846 by Charles Dickens, sent its Special Correspondent Charles Sheridan Jones (1876 – 1925) to Bethesda in order to cover the story of the strike. His articles for the paper provided first-hand accounts of the plight of the quarrymen and also the effects the dispute was having on the local community. A collection of these articles was published in 1903 in the book What I Saw At Bethesda. Jones also played a part in distributing money from the relief fund organised by the newspaper. To mark the centenary of the end of the strike, the book was republished in 2003 by Gomer Press with an interesting biographical introduction by J Elwyn Hughes. Hughes also illustrated the original text with contemporary images from the local area.

Further Reading

The Great Strike at Penrhyn Quarry, 1900-03 (Unite);
The Penrhyn Quarry Great Strike, 1900-1903 (Snowdonia National Park);
Jones, Charles Sheridan, What I Saw At Bethesda, R Brimley Johnson, London, 1903. (Republished with an introduction by J Elwyn Hughes, Gomer Press, Llandysul, 2003.);
Other posts about Penrhyn Quarry

 

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Zip World

Zip World

Zip World

Date

23 September 2013
Location

Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda

SH 62228 65513; 53.16883°N, 4.06249°W

Information

Zip World, site of the longest zip line in the northern hemisphere, opened in a disused part of Penrhyn Quarry in March 2013. The adventure attraction was created by ex-Royal Marine skydiver Sean Taylor, who also runs the Tree Top Adventure centre in Betws-y-coed.

The 1600m-long Big Zipper is also claimed to be the world’s fastest, with maximum speeds of over 100 mph. The shorter Little Zipper is 450m long and has a maximum speed of 45 mph.

Zip World Snowdonia;
Mile-long zip wire unveiled in Wales (Telegraph Travel);
Penrhyn Quarry

 

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