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Catalog Number 2005.022.0001
Object Name Tape, Cassette
Scope & Content Richard Boyle's oral history (A Career in Slate/The Industry Worldwide) recorded by Steven Williams on 23 May 2004.

Richard Boyle was sales Manager at the Evergreen Slate Company. Formerly, he worked for McAlpine (Penrhyn), 1964. He co-introduced excavators in the quarry; 1200 feet deep, 1 mile long, 1/2 mile wide, with 60 foot galleries; reconfigured the whole quarry. There were 56 mile of rail tracks in the early days, on each gallery.

In the 1750s, quarrymen worked on "bargains" - small groups. There were 300 -500 million tons of waste. Port Penrhyn, fleet of ships, railway, 3500 - 4000 workers. Lots of water, constant removal necessary. Lord Penrhyn had tunnel dug to take water to river; pump made in Caernarvon, still underground.. Ogwen Valley: Penrhyn on one side, Dinorwic quarry on other side of mountain.

1969 - Boyle went there/were using 25 ton trucks. McAlpine used old hangars for work and storage. Conveyor belts under all machines, each splitter trimmed his own slate.
1964 - 650 workers, quarry run by Lady Penrhyn (benevolent). When McAlpine took over, got rid of old workers, reduced work force, drilled into side 16 - 18 feet (more waste this way).
1969 bonus system led to greater production, broke up bargain system. Each worker had goal and bonus, superior intelligence of workers, many set really high production.
1970 - Boyle bought house in Llanfairfechan, lived there 19 years. Slate same variety of colors - "Penrhyn blue" - Cambrian vein same age as our (Slate Valley) vein.
Architectural Dept: 1973 - Terminal E at Boston Airport.
Penrhyn, 1870s - 170,000 tons per year with Dinorwic, largest in world. After great strike (1900 - 03), production declined; new materials developed. 1920s - Lord Penrhyn, ground to flour-like - made in 78 records - paint - road surface - pipe enamel. 1970s - Green vein, 40 feet wide, roofing felt. 1980's - Crushed dumps for road, building. 2% of slate extracted from rock, 98% waste.

Mid-1980s (1986) - invested in US, bought Hilltop Slate (bought 600 acres of quarries). For 3 years, served as local president.
Red, green slate unfading; structural, flagstone 1/3, roofing 2/3. Huge absenteeism rate, unlike in Wales; bonus system for everybody helped remedy this.

Boyle spent 3 1/2 years here, then returned to UK to McAlpine, stayed for a year, then left, worked for a sandstone firm, formed a slate import company , US Slate Co.

Late 1990s, business fell; 1999-2000, stoped his company. 2001, Boyle returned to US, went to China. In China, wages for week are equal to one hour here in US. French are more advanced, had automatic splitters in 1970s, wouldn't share knowledge. Spain is largest producer, highly automated.
Red slate is difficult to split
Boyle is now working for Evergreen, largest seller in US. Vermont black, evergreen, mostly VT slate. Western VT, others sell to Evergreen, some from China. Export to UK, Japan, Canada, Uses? Restoration work (Yale) 1/3, new buildings, residential (S-1 slate lasts 75 -100 years).

Boyle gives on-site advice to help customer and roofer. Changes noticed since he first came to US: Trucks are bigger, zip trimmers are now used. "We're well behind rest of the world in technology." Industry here is too fragmented, other countries are more monopolistic. Here, still "mom and pop" industries; vein at Penryhn (Wales) is 1000 feet wide and 4000 feet deep; large companies are gone here in Slate Valley.

Germany produces "fish scale" slate, unique shaped product, high priced because rare, protected by the government.

Anecdotal information: Substitutes for slate look good from a distance, 1/3 the cost of slate. Chinese slate is much cheaper to import, buy. In Brazil, use of slate on floor tiles is emphasized.
Creator Williams, Stephen T.
Title Richard Boyle, Oral History