Craig yr Undeb – Snowdonia’s trades union place of pilgrimage


CerdynUndeb1921bWe look towards the Welsh Valleys when we think of  Wales Trade Union history but in the heart of Snowdonia a significant event in Trades Union history took place.

Slate was king in the 19th century and North Wales quarry owners had grown rich through supplying roofing slate to the rapidly-growing urban communities in the UK and abroad at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Sadly, this was at the expense of the quarrymen who endured poor wages and appallingly dangerous working conditions. !n a situation where the quarry owners ruled absolutely, there was no provision for the workers to register their dissatisfaction over their working conditions. In the face of continued victimisation, the only course open to workers was collective action. The impetus for founding a Union came not from Penrhyn, Bethesda, despite many disputes and an earlier attempt to form a union in 1865, nor from Dinorwig in Llanberis. the other large quarry in the area, but from the nearby smaller Glyn Rhonwy quarry.

In the early 1870’s 110 quarrymen from the Glyn Rhonwy quarry declared themselves to be union members and were promptly locked out by the quarry owner. He soon realised he was losing money and within three weeks the workers returned and were recognised as union members.

However, the owners of the other quarries were alarmed by this development and attempted to stop the spread of the trade unions by refusing permission for any meetings within the quarries or on any of the extensive lands belonging to the large connected with the quarries.

Union rockThis is where the story takes a strange twist. Lord Newborough, owner of the Glynllifon estate west of Caernarfon owned some land near Llanberis on the shores of Llyn Padarn. He allowed the men to use a rocky outcrop (providing natural shelter) which became known as Craig Yr Undeb (Union Rock) to plan secretly the formation of a trade union. It’s fascinating to speculate his motives – perhaps he was in dispute with his aristocratic neighbours. Whatever his motives were, these secret meetings led to the creation of the North Wales Quarrymen’s Union.

Men at Union Rock
However, Dinorwig’s owners were unwilling to recognise the union. As a resut, 2,200 quarrymen were locked out of Dinorwic Quarry in June of that year, but after five weeks the managers agreed to recognise the union. This was followed by a dispute at the Penrhyn Quarry, which resulted in a great victory for the workers and their new union.

Conditions at Dinorwig were rapidly getting worse and in 1885. 53 men were suspended from working because ten men had broken a local rule. A mass meeting was held at Craig yr Undeb where strikers passed votes of no confidence in the manager, John Davies, as well as the chief manager, Walter Warwick Vivian.Neither had experience of the quarrying industry, having spent their training in the hard world of business. They were not in the least knowledgeable about how to improve inefficient customs and practices and had no interest in improving the working conditions of its employees. At that meeting, the striking quarrymen were led in a march to Craig yr Undeb (Union Rock) by the Llanrug Band whose patron was the owner of the Dinorwig quarry, G.W.D. Assheton Smith. He had presented them with new uniforms, a practice room at Gilfach Ddu in the quarry itself, as well as a new set of silver instruments worth £400. They were ordered to return their instruments forthwith to the band room at Gilfach Ddu and to leave them there until further notice. Marching back, they were persuaded by some of the onlookers to play a couple of marches. They obliged, and in so doing gave Assheton Smith the excuse to confiscate their instruments permanently.  He then took the opportunity of presenting them to a newly formed band in Llanberis and employed a conductor and tutor from England in 1886.

Centenary plaqueThe North Wales Quarrymen’s Union was initially not led by miners but by radical Liberals who later became supporters of David Lloyd George‘s Cymru Fydd. It merged with the Transport and General Workers’ Union in 1923. One hundred years after its formation, a plaque was unveiled by Jack Jones, the general secretary of the Transport & General Workers Union to commemorate the centenary of the formation of the quarrymen’s union.

 

 

 

downloadMoral dilemma

If you look carefully on the rock which is the end of the outcrop, you will see that somebody has painted ‘Cymru am Byth’ (Wales for ever!) on the rock. This has now almost faded away and every time I walk past I am sad because if ever there was a place such graffiti was appropriate, it is here. The Welsh Government have preserved the graffiti near Aberystwyth which says “Cofiwch Dreweryn” (Remember Treweryn!) – a reference to the valley that was flooded to provide water for Liverpool despite universal opposition in Wales. Should I go out with a pot of paint and a brush early one morning and renew the graffiti?

478 comments on “Craig yr Undeb – Snowdonia’s trades union place of pilgrimage

  1. I got this web page from my pal who informed me concerning this
    site and at the moment this time I am visiting this web page and reading very informative articles or reviews at this place.

    adreamoftrains best website hosting

  2. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is
    a very well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it
    and come back to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post.

    I will definitely return. adreamoftrains web hosting reviews

  3. This is the precise blog for anybody who needs to search out out about this topic. You realize so much its nearly laborious to argue with you (not that I actually would want匟aHa). You undoubtedly put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Nice stuff, simply nice!

  4. Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to produce a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

  5. I have been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I
    never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for
    me. In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever
    before.

  6. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I am going to send this information to him. Pretty sure he’ll have a good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  7. That is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate info… Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

  8. Hello there! This article couldn’t be written much better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I am going to send this post to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a very good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  9. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who was doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me dinner because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this topic here on your website.

  10. I want to show my appreciation to you for rescuing me from such a predicament. As a result of exploring throughout the the web and finding suggestions which were not powerful, I was thinking my entire life was gone. Being alive minus the strategies to the difficulties you have resolved as a result of your good guide is a critical case, as well as those that could have in a wrong way damaged my career if I hadn’t come across your blog post. That understanding and kindness in touching all the things was crucial. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t come upon such a point like this. I’m able to at this point look forward to my future. Thanks so much for the reliable and result oriented help. I won’t be reluctant to propose the blog to anybody who would like direction on this problem.

  11. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed!
    Extremely useful info particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot.
    I was seeking this certain info for a long time.
    Thank you and good luck. adreamoftrains best web hosting

  12. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who was conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this topic here on your internet site.

  13. We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.

    Your web site provided us with valuable info to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and our
    entire community will be grateful to you. adreamoftrains best web hosting 2020

  14. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me lunch because I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your website.

  15. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks, However I am experiencing issues with your RSS. I don’t know why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody having identical RSS problems? Anybody who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!

  16. Hi there, I do think your site might be having internet browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in I.E., it’s got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, fantastic site.

  17. When I originally left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I recieve four emails with the exact same comment. Is there a way you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks a lot.

  18. Aw, this was a really good post. Finding the time and actual effort to create a top notch article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *