Craig yr Undeb, Brynrefail
Craig yr Undeb is a rock beside the old road on the shore of Llyn Padarn. The name means ‘Rock of the Union’ and refers to this location being a public meeting place for quarrymen and others in Victorian times.
Quarry owners, like other industrialists, were reluctant to allow their workers to form or join trade unions. Quarrymen weren’t allowed to hold union meetings or raise union funds at quarries but could do so elsewhere, including in chapels. There was a breakthrough in 1874 with the formation of the North Wales Quarrymen’s Union. It’s thought that the union was established at a meeting in Caernarfon but on the same morning a crowd gathered here to celebrate, according to the press at the time.
During a strike by Dinorwig quarrymen in 1885-1886, meetings were held here at Craig yr Undeb. One meeting, in February 1886, was attended by an estimated 6,000 people.
Local disputes weren’t the only ones aired here. In 1896 and 1897 large meetings were called at Craig yr Undeb to discuss the tactics of Lord Penrhyn at Penrhyn slate quarry, Bethesda.
It may have been significant that Lord Newborough, who owned the land here, was a Liberal. He also owned Glynrhonwy quarry, Llanberis. The Dinorwig and Penrhyn quarries were owned by staunch Conservatives!
The community sometimes discussed at Craig yr Undeb topics which were unrelated to quarrying. On a wet afternoon in October 1876, for example, workers from the Dinorwig and Glynrhonwy quarries gathered here to discuss and condemn the Ottoman Empire's methods of crushing a rebellion in Bulgaria. The crowd was addressed by ministers of religion, schoolteachers and a union official.
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.