Tŷ Mawr quarrymen’s barracks, Nantlle
Here stand two rows of former cottages, built each side of a courtyard in the 1860s for quarrymen. Walk round to the courtyard to view the buildings and visit the small businesses here.
The barracks were built alongside driveway to Tŷ Mawr (now the path between the car park and barracks). Tŷ Mawr, south of the car park, dates from the early 16th century. Its former dairy outbuilding still stands near the barracks.
Many slate quarries in North Wales needed barracks when the industry expanded rapidly, drawing in workers from further afield. Some were weekday homes for men and boys who returned to their families at weekends. The Tŷ Mawr barracks – known as ‘Yr Iard’ or simply ‘Yard’ – had permanent residents.
In 1877 three brothers from ‘Yard’ were accused of assaulting another boy. They were Thomas, John and Griffith Griffith, aged 10 to 16. It was the second such offence by Thomas and Griffith, so magistrates gave their father the choice of whipping them himself, watched by a police officer, or sending them to prison to be whipped by a warder. He chose the former.
David Morris lived here for c.30 years, initially working at Pen yr Orsedd quarry, north of here. He was soon afflicted by arthritis. By c.1890, aged about 35, he was “completely disabled”. Although his sister lived in Nantlle, he led a lonely and painful life at the barracks. One night in 1909, he left his bed and hobbled with his walking stick along the lane past Tŷ Mawr. He drowned himself in the river which flowed from the upper lake to the remnant of the lower lake.
David’s neighbours here were quarryman John Jones, wife Ellen and their children. The couple lost their daughter Esther, aged 10, in 1891, their married daughter Ellen Williams, 29, in 1900 and baby Myfanwy, aged 3 months, in 1896. John died suddenly aged 55 in 1901.
Ellen was still living here in 1911 with her sons Rowland and Llewelyn, both quarry labourers. Rowland joined the police soon after the outbreak of war in August 1914 and was initially posted to guard the Cwm Dyli hydro-electric station (on Snowdon’s south flank). Two years later he enlisted in the army.
The barracks were converted into offices by the Welsh Development Agency and refurbished by community development company Antur Nantlle in 2003.
Postcode: LL54 6BD View Location Map