Starting from the Isle of Anglesey, many workmen travelled by boat and train every weekend to live in the spartan conditions of the quarry barracks.
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The Dinorwic Quarry at Llanberis, now the home of the National Slate Museum and the Electric Mountain Visitor Centre, was once one of the largest slate quarries in the world. Today, the scars of the terraces on the side of the Elidir Fach and Elidir Fawr, along with the tips of slate waste, are silent testimony to the industrialisation of this beautiful north Wales valley. The quarry was once the major source of income for many communities, not only in the shadow of the mountain itself, but as far away as the east cost of the Isle of Anglesey from where many workmen travelled by boat and train every weekend to live in the spartan conditions of the quarry barracks.
Slate quarrymen were a special breed of highly skilled workers who laboured in what would now be seen as appaling conditions in the face of the prevailing elements, forever running the risk of death, ill-health and serious injury.
In this book, written nearly forty years after the closure of Dinorwic, the author has, for the first time, painted a portrait of the quarry itself, the men who worked there (be they managers, quarrymen or labourers) and the communities in which they lived.
Many of the photographs have never previously been published and should be of interest to not only to students of industrial archaeology but also to the former slate quarry workers and their families as well as to local and family historians. The section on transport will have a particular appeal to those interested in industrial railways.
Reg Chambers Jones was born in Y Felinheli (Port Dinorwic), the village that developed as the terminus of the railway carrying slates from the Dinorwic Quarry to the waiting ships on the Menai Strait. He was educated at Caernarfon County School and worked with Lloyds Bank for forty-two years, becoming a Fellow and Past President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers for Gwynedd. He is now the Honorary Company Secretary of the Gwynedd Hospice at Home. Since the 1970s he has been carrying out research into local history and this, his seventh book, completes his study of the slate industry which had such a profound effect upon his formative years. The slate industry was part of the Industrial Revolution and is still alive and well supplying slate products from Penrhyn Slate Quarry to this day.