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Quarry Proprietors - The Penrhyn Strike Cartoons

Caernarfonshire Meirionnydd Anglesey
the Penrhyn dynasty the Faenol dynasty the Glynllifon dynasty

The Cartoons

A very valuable pictorial record of some of the main events of the Great Strike appeared in the penny weekly, Papur Pawb as cartoons. The cartoonist was J.R.Lloyd Hughes who hailed from Anglesey.

The first three pre dates the strike, 

Cartoon: `The Tale Carrier'


August 26, 1899, showing the tale carrier carrying his bag of tales (and supporting a long bushy tail of course) towards the office.

Cartoon; `Lessons for the Quarryman'


May 19, 1900, A Lesson to the Quarrymen showing Henry Jones, Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow showing to the workmen at the May Day meeting at Caernarfon how ill organised the Union really was.

Cartoon: `Selecting the Quarryman'


May 26th, 1900, The Quarryman's Choice showing quarrymen leaving for the coal mines of Southern Wales, saying the pay was much better down there where there were also far fewer stewards.


Then two days into the strike

Cartoon: `The Fracas at Penrhyn'


November 24, 1900 The Fracas at Penrhyn showing Lord Penrhyn standing behind a soldier, bayonet fixed, facing a worker carrying a stick whilst D.R. Daniel the Union Organiser stands behind him.  Penrhyn has his faith in the bayonet, What a pity for such an amiable chap to be so irresponsible But the worker has no need for cruelty; he should pay attention to the Organiser and the Union.


Eight days before Young's modified terms

Cartoon: `Invitation and Rejection'


December 15, 1900 Invitation and Rejection (or Mr Young's stance)
Showing E.A. Young resplendent in frock coat and outstretched hands appealing to three workers whilst others can be seen leaving the area.  Mr Young is feeling very annoyed at all this.
He disciplined vigorously, but things went from bad to worse finishing like a damp squib
Whilst I see the solid workers leave Bethesda in the middle of the stormy and frosty weather.


With the closure now complete

Cartoon: `Calling the Bees back to the Penrhyn Hive''


January 19, 1901, calling the bees back to the Penrhyn hive. Zabulon Dafydd (the archetypal Welshman) stands with his pot of forgiveness, whilst Young is beating a metal tray over a box of sulphur keeping the bees away. Os course the entrance to the hive is also blocked with a large stone. Zabulon says, Daub the hive with some honey of forgiveness Sir instead of all that Sulphur, and take the rock away from the entrance.


Seven weeks later, the situation was grim

Cartoon: ` The Cloud over Bethesda'


March 9, 1901, The Cloud over Bethesda. How long will last this dark and stormy night?


Then nearly ten weeks later

Cartoon: `Wanting and not Wanting'


May 25, 1901, Wanting and not Wanting. Watched by the ever-present Zabulon Dafydd, Young is sticking up one of his posters calling for workers to return to split slates. But with irony, it is to the stewards that he is appealing. There is no room for 'leaders.' Significantly it is Young who is doing all the work, Penrhyn stands back looking on. This was as it was. He left everything to Young and was seldom in Northern Wales during the Strike.


Four days after the re opening

Cartoon: `The Foolishness at Bethesda'


June 15, 1901. The Foolishness at Bethesda. Stewards and workers are escorted to the quarry surrounded by groups of four policemen. A mother, boy and baby stand by, each in turn shouting Bw!!! The Steward remarks; Now officers, that is a conspiracy. Summon them.


A week later, the Punt y Gynffon (Tail Pound) has been given to all working at the quarry.

Cartoon: `Tail Pound'


June 22, 1901. Punt y Gynffon. Judas atop the gallows listens to the 'traitor' exclaiming 'Only twenty shillings'. To which he retorts, 'The price has dropped since my day, but here's a chance for you to follow my example even further.'

Cartoon: `Lord Penrhyn being Suspended from a crane by Officers of the Court'


July 27, 1901. A reference to the first legal threats between Lord Penrhyn and W. J. Parry.


Two months later, with more returning to the quarry, with around 650 working out of a total of over 2,500, and tensions mounting, 250 soldiers have been called in. However the cartoon was premature as 26 men appeared before the magistrates at Bangor at the beginning of September.

Cartoon: ` A Wasted Journey to Bethesda'


August 24, 1901. A Wasted Journey to Bethesda. Full of spirit the soldier asks 'Where are these troublemakers?' Whilst he has to leave eventually with bowed head. 'Well I'll be jiggered.'


During the last week of 1901 a plea went out,

Cartoon: ` A Wasted Journey to Bethesda'


December 28, 1901. Lord Penrhyn stands with typical folded arms, whilst Father Christmas clasps the hand of a worker and holds out his other hand towards him. He says, 'To men of goodwill,' - Now My Lord, Agree!


It was a vain plea, with men returning from the coalfields, violence erupted in Bethesda on New Year's Eve. Twenty-seven were arrested.


In February 1902 Caernarfonshire County Council intervened in an attempt to arbitrate. Several meetings were held with men's representatives and with E.A. Young. Penrhyn however refused to be interviewed and the peace moves failed. By now, the dispute had solidified as to the right of the workmen to meet their employers through the Union Committee. Peace came in South Africa but not to Bethesda.

Cartoon: ` Zabulon Dafydd'


August 2, 1902. Zabulon Dafydd talks to Sian whilst John Bull and De Wet? shake hands in the background. 'Well Sian, things have been settled out in the Transvaal. Shame about Penrhyn though. To which Sian replies, 'Yes a great pity. Did you hear that it was the king who insisted on settling things out there? 'Yes,' said Zabulon, 'but it's easier to deal with De Wet than some of the gentry in this country. I'm sure the king isn't pleased.


By now, the workforce at the quarry was up to 700, most of which were from outlying villages, whilst Bethesda held firm. But with 2,000 men still out, violence could flare up at any time, which it did in early September. At the end of the month Lord Penrhyn agreed to meet a deputation of men if a quarry committee was not discussed. He then decided not to talk about representation at all, and the deputation was called off. Papur Pawb reacted with a cartoon.

Cartoon: ` Zabulon Dafydd'


October 4, 1902. By the pool of Bethesda. Zabulon Dafydd and a towel clad Lord Penrhyn again with his arms folded, and clad in a towel stand by the edge of the pool. Zabulon asks P-RH-N 'Why are you shivering here? Penrhyn replies, 'I am waiting for an angel to touch the waters so that I will be cured. To which Zabulon replies, It would be a blessing indeed if any kind of angel came to push you!'


No angel came. The Board of Trade was asked to intervene and in March 1903, Penrhyn instigated libel proceedings against W. J. Parry, forcing Parry to pay £500 in damages. Penrhyn's lawyer offered negotiations and substantial agreement was reached. 

Cartoon: ` In Bethesda'


March 24, 1903. In Bethesda a couple with girl and baby wonder 'Is dawn about to break?

It was a false dawn as Penrhyn withdrew his confidence in his lawyer and wanted total surrender.

At long last, William Jones, the Liberal M.P. for the Arfon constituency raised the incident in Parliament. A complicated yet charismatic member, after being held in high esteem since 1895, murmurings were rising against him at grass roots level.

Cartoon: ` Zabulon Dafydd'

May 23, 1903. Zabulon Dafydd is admiring a picture of the M.P. The Quarrymen's Union are talking about getting a salaried M.P. and call him a Labour Member. To which Zabulon retorts, 'In all reason, who would make a better Labour Member for them than William Jones?'

The Quarry Committee had appealed for arbitration inviting a list from the Prime Minister downwards, or anyone appointed by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales or the Government to name an arbitrator the month before. Penrhyn was not budging an inch.

Another local pie in the sky idea was mooted and which was depicted in Papur Pawb.

Cartoon: ` Moel Faban'


June 20, 1903. Moel Faban. Shows Lord Penrhyn gazing out from one of the castle turrets at a long line of workers returning home from work. The newspapers claim that there are moves afoot to buy and work the quarries at Moel Faban, Tanybwlch and Pantdreiniog. The artist imagines a scene like this happening soon.' J. R. Hughes had a vivid imagination! 


The strike continued somewhat aimlessly with much recrimination and confusion. Many signed back for work secretly whilst others emigrated. In late September the General Federation of Trade Unions stopped its payments to the men, and declared the following month, that as far as they were concerned, that the strike was over.

Cartoon: ` Bethesda'


October 24, 1903. Titled 'Bethesda' A worker sitting in a state of hopelessness, head resting in his hand with the quarry in the background, still strangely empty! It looks hopeless to expect a settlement. And it was.


On November 7, by a margin of 192 votes to 161 a small meeting in Bethesda voted to return to work.

Cartoon: ` Is this how it is to be from now on?'


November 21, 1903. The Penrhyn Troubles. Lord Penrhyn and a worker are shaking hands. 'Is this how it is to be from now on?


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