This film is part of Free

Slate Crafts

Blasting in Blaenau starts the process that will provide roofers with slates, stone masons with slabs and a craftsman with off-cuts.

Amateur film 1972 19 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales


Quarryman's tribute to the material that transformed his home town of Blaenau Ffestiniog from a small farming village in the 1750s to a booming slate town of c.12,000 inhabitants by the 1880s, with spoil heaps aplenty (1 tonne of useable slate producing 10 tonnes of waste). His film shows the blasting and transporting of slate, its dressing and splitting and its eventual use by roofers, a stone mason and a craftsman. NB: The sound does not continue beyond the blasting.

Dennis Hughes, who shot this film which shows clearly the laborious nature of the getting and reduction of slate, was later disabled by a quarry accident and he moved with his family to Llandudno. His children – Gwyn and Linda – are seen at Maenofferen Quarry playing with the slate. He was a keen amateur film-maker and performer of magic tricks – he and a friend, Ernest Williams, would do regular magic shows for the elderly. He also acted as unofficial caretaker for the ‘Caban', a small meeting room/hall situated behind the Manod Hotel in Blaenau Ffestiniog.