Craig yr Undeb, Brynrefail

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Craig yr Undeb, Brynrefail

Craig yr Undeb is the rock beside the old road on the shore of Llyn Padarn. The name means “Rock of the Union”, and refers to the use of this location in 1874 for the inaugural meeting of the North Wales Quarrymen’s Union.

Today anyone can easily publish their opinions and organise meetings using social media. It’s hard to imagine that in the early 1870s the owners of slate quarries in North Wales could prevent a union being formed simply by prohibiting quarrymen from gathering in one place on their land. That order covered much more than the quarries themselves – the surrounding countryside was also owned by a relatively small number of families. Fortunes were made from selling roofing slates across Britain and overseas.

By the early 1870s, a small union had been formed at Glyn Rhonwy quarry, close to Craig yr Undeb, after the owner, Captain Wallace Cragg, reluctantly consented. Quarrymen at other sites also wanted a union which would represent them in negotiations with managers over pay and working conditions. Their inability to form the North Wales Quarrymen’s Union was ended when Lord Newborough allowed them to meet secretly on the land which he owned here in 1874. His motives are unknown. Had he perhaps fallen out with a major quarry owner?

The road past the foot of Craig yr Undeb was the main route between Llanberis and Caernarfon until the early 1980s, when the current A4086 was built in conjunction with construction of Dinorwig Power Station. Today the road is part of the Lôn Las Peris cycling and walking route.

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