Penrhyn Quarry Records

Scope and Content

Records of Penrhyn Quarry and Penrhyn Quarries Ltd, 1800-1984, including financial records, 1829-1979; sales, 1800-1975; production records, 1813-1983; wages and pension records, 1820-1975; employment records, 1852-1965; slate shipments, 1816-1967; coal records, 1848-1959; fullersite and grout records, 1922-1971; writing slate records, 1829-1861; Anglesey Shipping Company records, 1890-1953; records relating to the Penrhyn strikes and disputes, 1872-1915; correspondence and related material, 1850-1973; miscellaneous, 1865-1984; records from Mills Department, 1875-1950; records from Red Lion level, 1875-1957; records from Holywell level, 1875-1965; records from Sinc Bach Weighbridge, 1875-1964; Twll Dwndwr Right Level, 1875-1956; newspaper cuttings, 1880-1978; sales booklets, 1886-1972; Quarry Hospital and accident records, 1890-1964; and Penrhyn v. Parry libel case records, 1869-1904.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda, Caernarfonshire, was one of the largest slate quarries in the world. The Penrhyn estate was a predominant source of slate from the early 16th century, but it was not until the late 18th century that slate quarrying became a major industry. The Penrhyn estate and quarry were owned by the Pennant family from 1765, when Richard Pennant (?1737-1808) married Susanna Warburton, only child of General Warburton, co-owner of the estate. He was followed by a cousin and the cousin by his son-in-law, Edward Gordon Douglas (1800-1886), who became Lord Penrhyn in 1866. His son, the 2nd baron, George Sholto Gordon Douglas-Pennant (1836-1907) succeeded him. By 1883 Penrhyn Quarry employed 2838 men. However, the quarry was the site of major strikes. In 1896, the quarrymen had been locked out for 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. On 22 November 1900 nearly 3,000 men walked out of the Penrhyn Quarry. The quarrymen were locked out for three years and the community of Bethesda never fully recovered. The strike eventually ended 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. During the 20th century the slate industry declined, although Penrhyn remained one of the primary sources of slate in Wales. The quarry continued to be owned by the Pennant family until management and part ownership was passed to the McAlpine construction group in 1964. The operation was sold to the company in 1973.


Arranged into five groups: Group one consists of financial, sales, production, wages, slate shipments, coal, fullersite and grout, writing slates, Anglesey Shipping Company records, Penrhyn strikes, correspondence, miscellaneous, records from the Mills Department, records from Red Lion Level, records from Holywell Level, records from Sinc Bach Weighbridge, records from Ffridd Level, records from Twll Dwndwr Right Level, records of unknown providence; Group two consists of slate production, records relating to production and sale of fullersite, sales and orders, documents relating to transportation and shipping of slate by rail and sea, finances, employment, wages and pensions, general quarry affairs, Quarry Hospital, accidents, insurance claims and Benefit Club, correspondence, reports, sale brochures, plans and invoices, industrial relations and disputes, 1896-1897 Strike, Strike 1900-1903, Penrhyn v. Parry Libel Case (March 9-14, 1903), miscellaneous; Group three consists of miscellaneous records; Group four consists of photographs; Group five consists of Penrhyn Strike records.

Access Information

No restrictions

Acquisition Information

Source not recorded


Compiled by Richard Burman for the ANW project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Caernarfon Record Office, Cofnodion Chwarel Penrhyn/ Penrhyn Quarry Records, catalogue; Ymgyrchu! Homepage, (, 5 October 2004; Slatesite, ( viewed 5 October 2004; Richards, Alun John, Slate Quarrying in Wales (Llanrwst, 1995).

Other Finding Aids

Hard copies of the catalogue are available in Caernarfon Record Office and the National Library of Wales and the National Register of Archives. The catalogue is available online.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright regulations apply.

Appraisal Information

All records deposited at Caernarfon Record Office have been retained.


Accruals are not expected

Related Material

Further records are Caernarfon Record Office, XD/40

Corporate Names

Geographical Names