Princess May Water Balance, Penrhyn Quarry

Date

17 September 2017

Location

Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda
SH 62228 65513; 53.16883°N, 4.06249°W

Information

Princess May is one of the two surviving water balances at Penrhyn Quarry; the other is called Sebastopol and has been restored. Originally there were eight at the quarry… [Read more about the water balance and see more photographs from 2011 here]

Further Reading

Princess May Water Balance, Penrhyn Quarry;
Zip World Adventure Terminal;
Penrhyn Quarry

Horseshoe Pass, Llangollen

Horseshoe Pass, Llangollen

Horseshoe Pass, Llangollen

Date

27 November 2016

Location

Horseshoe Pass, Llangollen
SJ 18587 46643; 53.01086°N, 3.21486°W

Information

The Horseshoe Pass is located 5 km north of Llangollen at the southern end of the Clwydian mountain range in Denbighshire. The A542 road goes through the pass where it reaches a maximum height of 417 metres (1368 feet).

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Now and Then XIII: Gilfach Ddu, Dinorwic Quarry

Gilfach Ddu - Now and Then

Gilfach Ddu – Now and Then

Date

6 June 2015
Location

Llanberis

SH 58297 60714; 53.12469°N, 4.11913°W

Information

“On the declivity of the mountain, and nearly opposite Dolbadarn castle, on the eastern side of the lake, are extensive slate quarries, the property of Thomas Asheton Smith, Esq. situated high among the rocks ; the mode of conveying the slates down the almost precipitous descent, to the margin of the lake, was formerly singularly awkward, and apparently very dangerous – The carts, each conveying about one ton of slates in winter, and two in summer, were drawn down a serpentine path by one horse in front, and one hooked on behind to counteract the rapidity of motion which other wise would endanger the whole. From the lake the slates were carted in great quantities to the Menai, from whence they were shipped to Ireland, Liverpool, America, &c. To avoid this great labour and danger, about ten years ago, a new railroad was made from the quarries down to the shipping place at Velin Heli on the Menai, a distance of about nine miles. By this road, the slates are conveyed down, at an average, it is said, of about 100 tons daily throughout the year. At this place of activity, generally designated by the name of “Dinorwic Slate Quarry,” above 1000 men are usually employed.”

— Joseph Hemingway, Panorama of the beauties, curiosities, and antiquities of North Wales, exhibited in its Mountains, Vallies, Waterfalls, Lakes, Cities and Towns, Castles and Ruins, etc. Intended as a Pocket Companion to the Tourist and Traveller., 1839

Further Reading

National Slate Museum;
Dinorwic Quarry;
Other posts in the Dinorwic Quarry series

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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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Garreg Fawr Quarry

Garreg Fawr Quarry

Garreg Fawr Quarry

Date

21 June 2014
Location

Betws Garmon

SH 53798 58098; 53.09998°N, 4.18511°W

Information

Garreg Fawr slate quarry sits on the lower slopes of Moel Eilio, above the village of Betws Garmon. The quarry opened in 1802 and was worked intermittently until the 1880s (it was marked as being disused in the 1889 Ordnance Survey map). It was, however, again worked thereafter on a small scale until the 1930s. The quarry had a number of different operators, including: the Garreg Fawr Slate and Mineral Company, which jointly worked the quarry and the nearby Garreg Fawr iron mine in the 1860s; the Betws Garmon Slate Company; and the Bangor Range Slate and Mineral Company. A tramway, probably dating from around 1901, linked the quarry to the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway (the forerunner of the Welsh Highland Railway). Located at the top of an incline, which is now mostly buried under slate waste, is an unusual engine house. This Grade II listed structure, of slate slab construction, was built in the form of a square-plan castellated tower, which survives today as an interesting landmark.

 

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Hafod-y-wern Slate Quarry

Hafod-y-wern Slate Quarry

Hafod-y-wern Slate Quarry

Date

22 February 2014
Location

Hafod-y-wern, Betws Garmon

SH 52975 57065; 53.09047°N, 4.19692°W

Information

Hafod-y-wern Slate Quarry is situated just below the forest on the opposite side of the Afon Gwyrfai from the village of Betws Garmon. The quarry was served by a branch line of the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway (the precursor of the Welsh Highland Railway) and is depicted as being in operation on Ordnance Survey maps from 1890 to 1915.

Further Reading

Hafod-y-wern Slate Quarry (Royal Commission on the Ancient and
Historical Monuments of Wales)

 

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Glanrafon Slate Quarry

Glanrafon Slate Quarry

Glanrafon Slate Quarry

Date

25 January 2014
Location

Rhyd-Ddu

SH 57824 53895; 53.06331°N, 4.12317°W

Information

Glanrafon Slate Quarry sits on the 300m contour line on the western flank of Snowdon close to the village of Rhyd-Ddu. The quarry, which was the largest in the locality, dates from 1875 and was shown as being in use on the Ordnance Survey maps from 1889-1915. Notice was given of the winding up of the Glanrafon Slate Quarry Company in The Edinburgh Gazette in January 1917.

Further Reading

Glanrafon Slate Quarry Company 1902 price list (Slatesite);
Glanrafon Quarry (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

 

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Gader-wyllt Slate Quarry, Rhyd-Ddu

Gadair-wyllt Quarry.  Looking from the end of a spoil heap out across Llyn-y-Gader with Snowdon behind.  The causeway to the left of the lake forms part of the newly created multi-use recreational path Lon Gwyrfai.

Gader-wyllt Quarry. Looking from the end of a spoil heap out across Llyn-y-Gader with Snowdon behind. The causeway to the left of the lake is the trackbed of the former quarry tramway and now forms part of the newly created path Lon Gwyrfai.

Date

11 January 2014
Location

Rhyd-Ddu

SH 56474 51854; 53.04462°N, 4.14239°W

Information

Located below Mynydd Drws-y-coed and Y Garn, at the eastern extreme of the Nantlle Ridge, Gader-wyllt Slate Quarry is on the banks of the small lake Llyn-y-Gader just to the south of Rhyd-Ddu. This quarry and the adjacent Llyn-y-Gader Quarry were in operation from the 1880s to the 1920s. Produce was transported from the quarry via a tramway skirting the edge of the lake. The tramway trackbed has been incorporated into the recently opened multi-use recreational route between Rhyd-Ddu and Beddgelert, Lon Gwyrfai. There are plans to ultimately create a circular path around the entire Snowdon massif and Lon Gwyrfai will form a part of the eventual Snowdon Circuit.

Further Reading

Gader-wyllt Slate Quarry (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical
Monuments of Wales)
;
Lon Gwyrfai (Snowdonia National Park Authority)

 

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