On a Saturday morning in November 1865, between 1,200 and 1,500 men gathered above the small town of Bethesda, to launch a society which they called the United Society of Welsh Quarrymen. Although there had been earlier revolts of quarrymen, this was the first recorded attempt to organise a trade union. The society failed almost as soon as it was started but an idea had been planted and despite the most strenuous efforts of its opponents, it was not to be uprooted.
This book is about the struggle of quarrymen to organise and `combine' in the slate quarries and mines of North Wales, and particularly in the giant Penrhyn quarries. It was often a battle for survival, fought in very distinctive communities, and the struggle witnessed some of the most bitter and dramatic disputes in the history of the British working class.
R. Merfyn Jones CBE is a historian, broadcaster, governor of the BBC and former vice-chancellor of Bangor University.
Part 1: The Roots of Conflict 1. The Slate Industry and Gwynedd Society 2. The Quarrymen 3. Beliefs and Attitudes 4. The Quarry 5. The Union, 1874-1900 Part 2: The Conflict 6. Dinorwg and Llechwedd 7. The First Penrhyn Lock-out 8. The Penrhyn Lock-out 1900-1903 9. Repercussions Part 3: Aftermath 10. The Union, 1900-1922 11. `Politics Obtain Here'