Today we learnt a bit of Welsh history visiting the pit mine and iron works. A big part in fact of the more recent history as Wales was pulling out coal and producing the iron that fuelled the industrial revolution. Both these things were fascinating as we went down 300 plus feet into a rather shallow mine to see just how it was done then and now.
Hard to believe but whole families worked down these deep, dark holes and children as young as five or six employed for a twelve hour shift with their job just to listen and open and shut the trap doors as the trolleys came tru loaded up and pushed by their mammies and older siblings. Families were paid with tokens that could only be spent in the mine owners shops and lived on site where they paid rent to the mine owners so it was a pretty vicious circle, as it was in many places in the early and mid 19th century.
We saw the stalls where ponys lived full time under there until labour laws gave them 2 weeks off a year also. The worst part apparently was re catching them. Poor devils no doubt did not want to go back down…
Then we went onto the Blaenafon Ironworks where all the ingredients were tipped into the tops of furnaces hotter than volcanic lava and ended up being poured down into sand cast rods before being shipped around the world. How hard life was, and many families followed one after the other into the same line. Gilbert especially found it fascinating.
After work, haha! That’s funny…I wrote ‘after work!’ Ahem, After work we head to the local for a beer and it’s been a hot day. We chat to the local publican who tells us it’s getting tougher as they don’t drink like they used to. Oh really? No it’s mostly about a beer with meals these days. He points out a few guys and says these are last of the guys who come in for beer after work and shakes his head. Food now makes up 70% of his business.
We are staying at a BnB that’s on a working farm and they are busy doing their hay. Glad weather has been perfect for them and each night it’s a hard look at forecast and discussions about timing etc. It’s been a nice change from the city kind of stay and we’re enjoying the more relaxed atmosphere here. Alex is a French boy staying here on like a farm exchange helping George and he’s supposed to be practicing his English but George speaks perfect French and at 67 can’t be bothered trying hard with English and reverts to French.