Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

It’s Sunday morning, the dogs have had their walk and I’m still recovering from being “Freshly Pressed”. It’s a great honour to be picked but it is a lot of hard work. To give you an example, las Tuesday, my blog stats reported 35 visitors, Thursday’s stats showed 469 visitors. I’ve been trying to keep up with all of your comments and hopefully I’ve replied to everyone who left a comment. If you left a like, once again, thank you and to everyone who decided to stay and read more, welcome. I hope you will like my future posts.

Right, to this weeks challenge, “Future Tense”, this post is rather a long one as I’ve got a few photographs to share. As always if you want to view them larger. click on the photograph and it will take you to my Flickr account.

National Slate Museum

On Thursday I was in the National Slate Museum, (previously known as the Welsh Slate Museum) which is located at Gilfach Ddu in the 19th-century workshops of the now disused Dinorwic slate quarry, within the Padarn Country Park, Llanberis, Gwynedd. The museum is an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage and part of National Museum Wales. Philip Wayner once said;

The camera is a time machine and you are the pilot. It captures the present so that someone in the future can see a moment recorded in the past as seen by you.

How appropriate as the photographs I’m going to show you were taken in the present but reflect the past. As to the future, who knows? Does anyone know what the future holds.

The National Slate Museum is located in the Victorian workshops which were built at the bottom of Elidir mountain and the large Dinorwig quarry.

The Yard

The museum which contains workshops, stores, offices and living quarters has been laid out as though quarrymen and engineers have just put down their tools and left the courtyard for home, It’s like travelling back in time to observe an industry and a way of life.

The Engineers House

The Chief Engineer had final responsibility for every aspect of the engineering work in the quarry and had a house in the courtyard of the workshops, this meant he could be on site at all times. The room in the photograph above is shown furnished as it would around 1911. With a supply of electricity, the Chief Engineer’s house would have been more comfortable than the homes of the ordinary workers.

Workers Cottages

Located in the museum there is a row of four quarrymen’s houses. Each house recaptures significant periods from the slate industry.

Originally the houses were located elsewhere but they were carefully taken down and rebuilt in the museum. One house is furnished to reflect the ‘Golden Age’, another the famous Penrhyn Strike, and a third the time of the quarry’s closure.

Workers House

No. 2 Fron Haul is furnished as a house would look in 1901 in the village of Bethesda at the time of the Penrhyn Lockout (1900 -1903). Compare this to the Chief Engineers House.

The lockout was one of the longest running disputes in British industrial history. On 22 November 1900, due to a disagreement about pay, 2,800 men walked out of Penrhyn Quarry. About 1000 quarrymen never returned.

The fourth house provides learning facilities for schools and children; it is one of the many educational features available on site.

Wandering around the museum really is like stepping back in time. I’ve been there twice in the last few weeks and on each visit I have found something else to photograph there is just so much to see.

The Foundry

One of my favourite areas is The Iron and Brass  Foundry. In here, metal components for all sorts of machines and equipment used at Gilfach Ddu were produced and it’s a good example of how self-sufficient the workshops were. It’s also the highest room in the Museum.

Click on the photograph to view it on Flickr in a much larger size.

No Smoking

Just to the side of the foundry is The Pattern Loft. It was in here that the pattern makers could produce a template for any metal object needed by the workshops. Pattern Loft

Working by candlelight, the pattern makers carved out of softwood, cogs, steam engine parts and even the bell on the clock above the gateway to the workshops. All in all there are about 2000 different patterns, some of them really intricate and you can see them in the Pattern Loft.

Moving on through the museum buildings you will find lots of workshops, each inter-connecting with the next one.

Bench and Vice

The quarry was self-sufficient and the workshops with the variety of equipment on display testify to the technical abilities of the quarry’s craftsmen.

Blacksmiths Forge

Here in the workshops you can see many unique items of equipment from the Museum’s collection.

Of course for everything in the quarry and workshops to run efficiently you need some form of administration and the Clerks Office is where this happened.

The Office

In the office there is a telephone which connected  various parts of the quarry to the workshops and administration. Just next door is the quarry and workshop stores.

Store Room

In the main stores, iron, steel and other large items were kept on long racks. There was also an amazing variety of screws, nails and washers, with every drawer correctly and minutely labelled.

. I’ve talked about the past and how we as observers can see it in the present by visiting museums. But what about the future. As I said, earlier I don’t know what the future holds but the museum, like many other museums, does have an educational program for children and on my last visit I could see evidence of this, as we kept seeing classes being shown around. Maybe that’s where the future lies, by showing children, from the present , what happened in the past, might one day influence something they will do in the future. Who knows?

I could make this blog post three times as long, maybe one day I’ll get round to doing a follow-up.

But in the meantime I hope you enjoyed this rather brief visit to the National Slate Museum of Wales and if you would like more information about the museum follow this link to their website.

Footnote: I started this post Sunday morning and in the afternoon I had a hard disk crash. Fortunately I didn’t lose any photographs as they are stored on an external hard drive but I’ve just spent the last day and a half installing a new drive, restoring the operating system and putting all of my software back on. Fortunately I was able to use my tablet to answer emails and reply to comments whilst I was working on the rebuild.


23 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

  1. Nice post Mike! Happy to hear your photos weren’t impacted by your crash. Any time you want to send some of those 400+ commenters over to me, feel free 🙂


    1. I’ve long had a policy of keeping all of my photograph library on an external drive which is backed up once a week to another drive. Sorry, Tina but I’m keeping the comments.


    1. Thanks Steve. It’s a great place to visit and I could quite happily spend a day there. Hey maybe it could be a Fuji day out some time. Llanberis waterfall, trip up Snowdon, the museum, llanberis pass, he’ll you could spend two days there quite happily….


  2. How wonderful to see such functionality still at work, in that it looks less like a museum while retaining the original atmosphere. A lovely set of shots, and thank you Mike for the timely back up reminder. What a nuisance for you!


    1. Hi Patti – it’s one of the best museums I’ve ever been in. Must be good because Adrian, my photography buddy and myself have been to visit twice in the last two weeks. Back-up, back-up, back-up, I can’t repeat it enough…


  3. What a fantastic place to visit.
    From your description, it reminds me very much of the Black Country Museum.
    Your photos are amazing, they give a real insight into somewhere that is now on my list of ‘to visit’ places.


  4. I’ve been here, beautiful photos. Around the back there’s what’s left of the quarry, it’s full of water and very deep. I think they may even use it for scuba diving


  5. Very effective. In that first interior shot it’s as if you captured something else – the atmosphere, or the spirits 😉 And I love the shots of the workshop areas.


    1. I’ve been twice now to photograph and will probably go back again, there’s so much to see and it really is quite good for light and shade.


  6. Gorgeous. Your photos have a painting quality about them. Do you do something to the shots after taking them? Gorgeous.


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