Glan y Bala, Llanberis
It was in this area people who worked in the Dinorwig slate quarry’s lower levels received their monthly pay in small tins. They immediately removed the coins and placed the tins in a sack for reuse.
The Welsh word bala denotes dry land between two lakes or marshy areas. The short river here flows from Llyn Peris to Llyn Padarn. The local saying ‘cael ei yrru dros Pont Bala’ (‘to be driven over Bala Bridge’) meant someone had been fired from their quarry job!
The funeral procession of popular quarry manager Griffith Ellis departed from here in 1860. More than 1,500 quarry workers had gathered to pay their last respects.
Up the hill near the bridge stood Glan y Bala Cottage. It existed by the 1630s. Outside was a small reservoir. The water may have been used for small beer (low in alcohol), which was more hygienic than water. The pit measures about 3x1.4 metres (10x4.5ft) and is now filled with slate rubble for safety.
In the 1830s an eight-bedroom house, known as Glan y Bala, was built on the slope below the cottage. It was enlarged twice in the same century. Some of the material came from the demolished cottage.
By the 1870s it was home to Mary Duff, mother of Charles Assheton Smith. He owned most of the land in this area, including the quarry. Mrs Duff, who sponsored the local brass band, caused a minor scandal in 1872 by switching allegiance from the Church of England, driving from Glan y Bala to the Catholic chapel in Caernarfon for worship.
Later Glan y Bala was home to quarry supervisors and managers. One of them was William Henry Brinckman, his wife Winifred and their daughters. He was born in Ross-on-Wye in 1861. He was once thrown into the lake by Bala Bridge, after telling quarrymen to return to their work instead of carrying an injured colleague to the quarry hospital. The stretcher party had more than the maximum permitted eight men.
He moved to Herefordshire in 1910 because the climate here was bad for his health. Ordinary quarrymen lacked the means to move away as their health deteriorated, and continued to work in exposed locations in almost all weather.
Today Glan y Bala includes self-catering holiday accommodation – follow the link below for details.
Postcode: LL55 4TY View Location Map