Penrhyn Quarry Strikes 1896-97 and 1900-03

On 22 November 1900 nearly 3,000 men walked out of the Penrhyn Quarry, which was owned by Lord Penrhyn. The quarrymen were locked out for three years and the community of Bethesda, Gwynedd, never fully recovered.

Previously, in 1896, the quarrymen had been locked out for about eleven months because of a dispute between the workers and the owners, concerning the minimum wage. On that occasion, the workers were forced to return to work without gaining any concessions.

Lord Penrhyn did everything he could to eliminate the North Wales Quarrymen's Union's influence within the Quarry. In April 1900 the Quarry manager, E. A. Young, banned the collection of Union payments in the workplace. Following a strong reaction from the quarrymen to this decision some were forbidden from going back to work and consequently 2,800 men went on strike.

Penrhyn Quarry in 1913 (44K)

Newspaper report on the Penrhyn Quarry Strike.  (50K)

On 11 June 1901, four hundred of the men returned to work, receiving a sovereign each and the promise of a 5% pay increase. This caused some anxiety in the area, and bitterness turned to violence at the end of 1901 when pub windows, and those of the men that had returned to work, were smashed. Signs were placed in windows saying 'No scabs live in this house'. Soon afterwards the Chief Constable of Caernarfonshire sent troops into Bethesda, and a Justice of the Peace arrived to read the Riot Act to the striking men.

The quarrymen returned to work in November 1903 without resolving the main issue of Union recognition. Over £360,000 was lost in wages over the three years and one third of the workforce never returned to the Penrhyn quarry. Following Lord Penrhyn's victory, the first signs of decline in the slate industry, which was so important to life in this part of Wales, became apparent. Strike committee (35K)

Penrhyn Quarry Strikes 1896-97 and 1900-03
The Miners' Next Step and the General Strike of 1926
Miners Strike 1972, 1974 and 1984

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