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Quarrying Techniques - The Workers

the workers the quarry and blasting
working the slate mechanisation

A team of quarrymen splitting slates (It is very important to bear in mind that since the quarrying was a Welsh language industry, the translations into English are only meant to give an idea of the meaning of the original. These English versions are modern literal translations. It is important to know that the terminology did vary to some extent from area to area. The terms used here are in the main from the Llanberis area.)

Traditionally the quarrymen worked as partneriaid (partners). It could be said that there were two groups working at the quarries, ones who were always mewn clofar (in clover), and the others as hogiau'r jacdo (jack daw boys) as their future looked so black. To obtain a bargen (bargain) of any value one had to go through the loaded exercise or bargaining with the stiward gosod (setting steward). Of course the setting price would have been worked out at the quarry office before hand. Consequently, the quarry man had to choice but to accept the price or lose his job. The term bargen therefore was completely misleading. A bargen was a face of rock around 2m wide, and would be set out for a criw (crew) to work together in partnership. The size of a criw could vary from two to a dozen. The steward would price the bargen according to so much to the pound (sterling).

The Quarryman's toolsAn eleven or twelve year old boy would start work at the quarry as y rybelwr (rubbler) learning the first elements of hollti a naddu (splitting and chipping.) He was indebted to the good will of the quarry man for slate that would provide him with clytiau mân a chrawiau (lit. slate that had already been split lengthwise to provide enough material to be split into around 16 roofing slates and slate which was split in a similar fashion but which could not be used as roofing slate) to work on. By the time he was between sixteen and twenty years old, he became a jermon (journeyman.) His task would be to naddu wrth y dydd, (chipping slates by the day for the quarry man.)

XQS1795/36 - Quarter Sessions document recording former quarryman entering service with the Navy.

Above: Quarter Sessions document recording a former quarryman from Caernarfon entering service with the Navy in 1795.

Video: See the Quarryman at his trade (Low Quality)

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The Oldest Quarrymen
Gwynedd Council
Welsh Slate Museum, Llanberis
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