The Barracks

In contrast to the snug Engineer's House, the barracks were huts up on the hillside near the windswept galleries of the quarries where the men who travelled from afar to work in the quarry would stay during the week. In the past, men from villages on Anglesey, the other side of the Menai Straits, would leave home before three o' clock on Monday morning and walk to the Moel y Don ferry. Once landed, they would walk from Port Dinorwic to Penscoins to catch the quarry train then climb up hundreds of metres to their barracks. And all this before doing a full day's work! Many of them would have smallholdings over on Anglesey and would bring their own food for the week — home-made bread and cheese and butter and bacon  — in their 'wallets', long sacks of white linen. Reflecting the nature of this produce, the other quarrymen called these men moch Môn — 'Anglesey pigs'.


Each barracks had a living room and a bedroom, and space for four men. They were spartan enough — no electricity, very basic, rough furniture and a healthy population of fleas! The men would put brown paper in the window spaces to keep the wind out. And the wind could be piercing — one row of barracks near Aberdaron gallery was almost 650 metres above sea level and was christened 'Ireland View'.

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