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Ymweliad Brenhinol I Ogledd Cymru 


The Royal Visit to North Wales
Visit to Bethesda and a Cruise on the Menai

On Thursday the Prince and Princess of Wales, and the Princesses Victoria and Maud visited the famous Penrhyn Slate Quarry, and took a yachting cruise in the Menai Straits. The house party at Penrhyn Castle had arranged to leave about half-past eleven and drive to the quarry, but the start was delayed by heavy rain. As soon as the weather showed signs of improving, their Royal Highnesses and most of the other guests at Penrhyn Castle set forth in carriages. The Princess of Wales wore a dark serge dress, edged with silvery braid, whilst her hat was one of the boat-shaped description, made of straw, and trimmed simply with black ribbon. The young Princesses were dressed in fawn-coloured tailor-made dresses and jackets. The Prince of Wales, discarding his silk hat, assumed a bowler; and all their Royal Highnesses wore tan boots of the lightest shade. Amongst others who accompanied the Royal party were the Duke and Duchess of Westminster, the Earl and Countess of Powis, Lord and Lady Penrhyn, Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, Lord Kenyon, and Lord Mostyn.

On their Royal Highnesses emerging from the Castle grounds by way of the grand Lodge at Llandegai, they were met by about seventy tenant farmers on horseback, who first drew up to allow the Prince and his party to pass, and then wheeled and galloped at the tail of the procession, which continued along the old road to Tyntwr Schools, where the escort of mounted yeomen took their departure. On reaching the quarry, where they were received by Mr E. A. Young, the manager, the Royal party met with a most enthusiastic reception from the labourers, with their wives and families. The Royal party were escorted to a crimson-draped dais, erected on the verge of the great precipice, and in full viewof the Talcen Mawr, a huge pinnacle of red rock some two hundred thousand tons in weight. According to information given to the Royal party by the officials, this is the largest slate quarry in the world.

The output of marketable slates from this quarry is about 110,000 tons per annum, and for every ton of good slate fourteen tons of material have to be excavated. The rubbish and bad rock is removed and tipped at the rate of 1,400,000 tons per annum. For the last three days no blasting work at all had been done at the quarry, the use of the explosives being held in reserve for the benefit of the Royal party. All over the great arena, and away up the precipitous sides, men had been busy laying gunpowder in the slate rock, and dynamite in the rubbish, each charge having attached to it a fuse of varying length, so that the reports might be heard not together, but in quick succession. In addition to this over 3,000 rock cannon had been prepared. At a given signal a flag was hoisted on each side of the quarry, and a bell rang out its ominous tones. This was to intimate that the fuses in connection with the blasting operations had been fired. The next moment the Royal visitors were confronted with a singular spectacle. Everywhere over the vast workings, men looking in the distance little more than midgets, could be seen running as fast as their legs could carry them.

The vast abyss was a perfect rabbit warren of activity. These were the labourers who had fired the charges. The next moment there was a quick succession of flashes of flame, accompanied by thunder-like reports, and followed by masses of falling debris. Along the flat, up the cliff-like rocks, and away on the mountain side, there belched forth volume after volume of smoke, which, when it cleared away, revealed the upheaval that had taken place. Later on, the rock cannon were fired, but the heavy downpour of rain had apparently had the effect of damping the powder, and, therefore, this display was not carried out in its entirety. The Royal visitors, as well as Lord Penrhyn's other guests, were next escorted to the second dais for the purpose of seeing the actual manipulation of the slate as it is sawn and planed either into billiard-table slabs or small tiles for the roofing of houses.

A little later the Princess of Wales was asked to take part in the work of slate splitting, that is to say of detaching by means of a chisel and a mallet thin slices of slate from a thick slab. Her Royal Highness, with characteristic graciousness, at once consented, and advanced to an old workman sitting on a low stool with a block of slate between his knees. Her Royal Highness took from him his chisel, with which she succeeded in cutting from the block several slates such as are used in the roofing of houses. The cheering at this performance was loud and long. Then the Prince of Wales, who was also loudly applauded, tried his hand at slate-cutting, and he was followed by Princesses Victoria and Maud, both of whom, on taking and deftly handling the workman's chisel, were cheered again and again. The party next settled themselves down for a little recreation in the form of music and song. The quarry band was in attendance, as was also the choir, under the conductorship of Mr John Davies, a quarryman.

Tarddiad: Bygones, 18 Gorffennaf 1894.

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