Start of the slate quarry’s success?

Here is a list of what I catalogued last Thursday/Friday:

Temp No 40.26 – Original painted image of an unidentifiable bird.

Temp no 40.27 – Vouchers and Accounts relating to Penrhyn Farm (John & Catherine Lasbrey) c. 1836

Temp no 40.28 – Bundle of estate accounts/correspondence and a copy of Anne Susannah Warburton’s will. 21 July 1793 – 13 September 1902 Bundle includes:
a) 21 July 1793 – Letter to Richard Pennant suggesting ways of improving the quarry. Suggests building a horse-drawn railway (instead of canal) from quarry to port and suggests use of inclines for rubble. Includes cross section of what railway and track would look like.
b) 1813 – Bundle of papers relating to the building of a fish weir, as commissioned by Lady penrhyn
c) C.1816 Saummary of the will of Lady Penrhyn (Anne Susannah Warburton)
d) January 1863 Correspondence between Edward Gordon Douglas-Pennant and professor Simonds of the Royal Vetinary College regarding pigs.
e) 1893 Copy of a letter giving an account of the Mold riots of 1869 (possibly in the hand of George Sholto Douglas-Pennant).
f) 13 September 1902 Letter from Bangor Magistrates Clerks Office to Lord Penrhyn informing him that the Justices have met and ‘decided to get a force of 100 constables, including mounted police, into this district at once’.
g) N.D. Copy of a return sent to ascertain the land tax charged on the manors.

The two items I was particularly exited by were the letter to Richard P. regarding the quarry (40.28a) and Anne Susannah’s will (40.28c).

The letter felt like it was key to the Penrhyn Quarry’s success. Obviously Richard P has commissioned and engineer to look at the feasibility of building a canal to transport slate from Quarry to Port, but the engineer in question (I’m afraid I couldn’t decipher the signature – but I’m sure an industrial Historian would recognise it) said that the drop from quarry to port was too great and that the number of locks required would make it a very inefficient means of transport. He recommended building a rail way pulled by horses. As railway’s were clearly not common place in 1792, there is a drawing of a cross-section of how it would look, as well as a cross-section of the rails. What is really interesting is that the engineer then goes on to suggest the building of inclines or of slate rubbish with pully and break systems, where the weight of a laden cart would transport the empty one.

It’s phenomenal to think that the idea for the inclines that litter the North Wales landscape came from this letter, as did the idea of the horse drawn railway, the early investment in which was key to Penrhyn’s success and the like of which was still in use in Talysarn until the mid-20th Century, as this video shows (click on link on right to watch the film). I am far from being an expert in quarry history, but I found this letter really exciting.

On a more personal note, I found the copy of Anne Suzannah’s will fascinating. We rarely have records of what women owned and did with their money during this period, but the way she bequeathed her money tells us a lot about her. She was clearly interested in establishing a church in St Annes and left money for it, as well as a fund, whose interest was to provide an organist for said chapel (later to be Mr Valentine). She left £2000 for a monument to be built for herself and her husband at Llandygai. She also left quite significant sums to her servants, including a massive £1000 to James Greenfield (later of libel scandal). Interestingly, she cut the amount to her Lady’s maid from £700 to £200 in a codicil. I wonder what the maid did to offend her. I was also very glad to see that like all wealthy widows she made sure her animals were well cared for, leaving £40 per year for each of her pug dogs, £45 per year for each of the coach and saddle horses over the age of 12 and for each coach dog and ‘Tiger’ £25 per year for life. Pity the poor Cart horses though…..
” Cart horses aged 15 to be shot, and not sold”


One response to “Start of the slate quarry’s success?

  1. Pingback: A walk through history. « prosiectpenrhyn·

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