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Snowdonia 1890 open day at Llanberis quarry hospital

Dinorwig quarry hospital
The open day is Tuesday, 26 October, 11am to 4pm

There's a chance to travel back in time like the Snowdonia 1890 families and find out about medical treatment for 19th century quarrymen.

Dinorwig quarry hospital in Padarn Country Park, Llanberis, is holding an open day on Tuesday 26 October to show what would have happened to injured quarrymen in Victorian times.

Opened in the 1860s, the hospital led the way in emergency medicine and was one of the first in the country to acquire an X-ray machine.

Led by Mr Mills-Roberts - who was also goalkeeper for Wales and Preston North End - the surgeons managed pioneering brain and limb salvage surgery.

To reflect this, characters portraying the medical staff will be on hand to share stories of life at the hospital during the 19th century.

"There will also be someone doing theatre make-up to give people the scars and injuries that you might have suffered as a quarryman," said Padarn park manager, Ken Latham.

"Artist Jo Matthews will also be showing her art project about the dust on quarrymen's lungs. She's used rotting blackberries in her pictures, because they're the same shape as a lung."

Staff from Gwynedd Council archives and museums service will be present to examine any photos or documents relating to life at the hospital which members of the public bring in.

Few have a better recollection of what hospital life was really like than Vivian Hughes, who was born and raised in the building during the 1940s. He will be on hand to give a talk about his memories.

The hospital became a first aid post in the 1940s before closing in the 19602

His father, a pharmacist-come-first aider, ran it as a drop-in day service from the 1930s to the 1960s, and Vivian recalls chatting to a waiting room full of injured quarrymen as they waited to be seen.

"His mother would bring cups of tea to keep them warm, because they would be wet and cold after being out in the quarry," said chief Gwynedd archivist, Lynn Francis who interviewed Vivian about his recollections.

"He told me about his father keeping a bottle of whisky in his surgery, and if anyone was going to have a painful treatment he'd give them a dram.

"Of course, many of the quarrymen were tea-total, so Vivian could always tell who'd had a drop as they left, because they weren't very steady on their feet."

Vivian will also speak about what a stickler for cleanliness his father was, and how his mother, a WWI Belgian refugee, transformed the hospital garden to make the place more homely.

The open day is from 11am to 4pm and there are guided tours at 11.30am and 3pm. It is otherwise shut during the winter season.

In pictures: Quarry hospital
25 Oct 10 |  History
Back to the 1890s for TV launch
18 Oct 10 |  History



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