What's On

Exhibition: Dinorwig ’69 – The End of the Line

National Slate Museum
17 July–31 December 2019
Cost Free
Suitability All

Logo Dinorwig '69 The End of the Line

Tank Incline, Hafod Sinc Owen

This exhibition commemorates the 50th anniversary of the closure of Dinorwig slate quarry.

The quarry closed on 22 August 1969 – only weeks after the investiture of Prince Charles at Caernarfon Castle on a dais of Dinorwig slate. 350 men lost their jobs and a quarrying community and a way of life that had existed since the 1780s changed forever.

The exhibition reflects on the legacy of the quarry for the village of Llanberis and surrounding communities, and tries to put the closure into context, reflecting on this most important part of history and looking at the impact the closure had on this community and its people. A century earlier, closure would have been inconceivable. Dinorwig was one of the two largest slate quarries in the world and, along with its neighbour at Penrhyn, Bethesda, could produce more roofing slates in a year than all other combined slate mines and quarries worldwide. The strange silence that came to Dinorwig in August 1969 had a profound and long-lasting effect on this area.

The exhibition features a selection of 50 photographs chosen by former quarry workers in conjunction with the museum’s curator, as well as artwork and poetry by local schoolchildren. A programme of activities supports the exhibition including a guided walk through the quarry itself on 22 August and a spectacular commemorative concert on 24 August featuring a host of local talent, who have a connection to the local community.

‘Many of our activities will centre around late August’, said Dr Dafydd Roberts, Head of the Museum. ‘The men received a letter from the Dinorwic Slate Quarries Co Ltd to tell them that the quarry was closing on 22 August, so it seemed appropriate for us to use this date as a focus for our events. The concert will also be a chance for us to remember our dear friend and colleague Elwyn Jones, who worked here at the museum as a foundry man for many years. Sadly Elwyn, a member of the hugely poular band Hogia’r Wyddfa, passed away two years ago and the concert will be in his memory too.’

Other features of the exhibition include the original auction catalogue for the Quarry and the workshops at Gilfach Ddu and showings of the films The End of the Line – a BBC film made in 1969 at the time of the auction which shows the selling off of the artefacts. Also featuring in the exhibition will be a range of short films, produced by local people about their memories of the time and assisted by pupils from Ysgol Brynrefail Llanrug – originally produced ten years ago for the 40th anniversary.

The short films in the exhibition – even though produced ten years ago – bring us face to face with many different aspects of the closure. Such as the effect on the Crosville buses which had carried hundreds of men to work each day, the fear that trade would be lost by local businesses as men no longer had money to spare, and what it was like to be a woman working in the slate company’s office…all human stories giving a glimpse into the everyday effects of closing such a huge industry. Many of those involved have now passed away, which makes it even more poignant to be showing them as part of these commemorations.

Slate was first quarried extensively at Dinorwig in the 1780s, and by the 1890s it employed over 3,000 men and boys as quarrymen, apprentices, carpenters, fitters, foremen and managers. Its growth led to a network of closely knit series of villages – Llanberis, Deiniolen, Dinorwig, Cwm y Glo, Llanrug, Bethel, Y Felinheli and Waunfawr amongst these – all of which depended on the quarry for their sustenance – and which in turn provided the skilled labour force to turn rock into roofing slate. The slate industry, like many other large industries, had always had its difficulties. Dinorwig quarry had had its share of strikes in 1885 with the Dinorwig lockout, echoed in 1900 in Bethesda by the Penrhyn Lockout, which became one of the longest running industrial disputes in history. By the 1960s the slate industry in general faced an even more uncertain future. Things hadn’t been going well for a number of years and there seem to be many reasons why Dinorwig quarry closed in 1969. There was less demand for slate in the UK during the 20th century, Welsh slate was expensive compared to roofing tiles and slate from overseas and the quarry owners of Dinorwig and Penrhyn were competing against one another for a share of a fairly small market.

The exhibition and Educational Events are supported by Engie.

Diary Schedule

17.7.2019 – 31.10.2019   Exhibition: Dinorwig ’69 – The End of the Line / FREE

Weekly                             Film showings of The End of the Line and Ffarwel Roc / FREE

22.8.2019                         Guided tour of Dinorwig quarry / FREE but ticketed by contacting the shop or calling 02920 573702 / 573711

23.8.2019                         Dinorwig '69 talk by Curator Cadi Iolen / FREE but ticketed by contacting the shop or calling 02920 573702 / 573711

24.8.2019                         Commemorative concert 7pm / FREE but ticketed by contacting the shop or calling 02920 573702 / 573711


What's On