Reg Chambers Jones
I'm including a review of this book on the site as, although out of print, it is easily available via Amazon and Ebay secondhand. I hope Bridge Books reprint the title, as I feel it is of genuine worth to the student of Dinorwig.
There has obviously been much research undertaken to produce this book- by a historian who is very familiar with the area and the subject. At first glance, it perhaps doesn't satisfy the hunger for the kind of information that mine and quarry enthusiasts crave. There isn't a map, or a plan of the quarry. But then a few people have tried to do that and have given up at the enormity of the task. There's scant reference to the names of levels or infrastructure.
But what Chambers Jones has done is focus for the most part on the human side of the quarry, the men that worked it and the community it served. In this, he has produced an outstanding book. There are also many fine photographs of the quarry in the early part of the C20th and earlier which are a study in themselves.
There is an extensive chapter on the quarry, the men and their working conditions, the barracks, gunpowder, splitting slates and of course, the bargain system. The story of a typical apprentice is started upon and is fascinating; then Jones seems to lose interest in the poor chap. There are sketchy references to levels and inclines which I would have loved more information on. Nevertheless, there is a great deal here which would be grist to any interested person's mill- I certainly learnt a great deal.
There is a thorough section on Transport, with a very useful description of the drivers and their duties. Much of the information on the locomotives has been repeated or extended upon by Cliff Thomas's superb book, "The Quarry Hunslets" but it's good to have it here for completeness. The Padarn railway is covered thoroughly with much interesting detail. There are many good photographs of the engines at work; usually the locations are not identified- a shame because with a little detective work these could be revealed.
The quarry hospital has a fine chapter to itself. The wider community of Llanberis is studied, with some great information about the shops and housing. Equally, an account of Port Dinorwic contains much that is particular about the community and the ships and mariners who used the port.These fine chapters all help to consolidate a picture of the quarry within the area and are invaluable.
I should also mention that the first chapter concerns the owners of the quarry, which is, of course, very correct, there would be no Dinorwig without them. They were colourful and flawed characters, and I have a strong feeling that while Jones quite rightly notes their altruistic deeds within the local community, he glosses over the rather draconian style of management adopted by some of the family and their various obfuscations about the health and welfare of the workers.
Nevertheless, these minor shortcomings aside, I feel that this is an excellent book and is to be warmly recommended to any student of Dinorwig.
If you enjoy my content, please consider supporting what I do. Buy me a coffee! Thank you :-)