Thursday 9 June 2011, 11:54
An extraordinary tale of a working men's male voice choir in the 19th century has come to light thanks to a hitherto unknown clock.
Penrhyn Male Voice Choir, based in Bethesda in north west Wales, have come into possession of a decorative timepiece made in 1893 and forming part of the narrative of a long-running industrial dispute between mine workers and management.
The clock, made of local purple slate, was given to Mr W Gray, who assisted the choir in their journey to be part of the 1893 World Fair in Chicago. They came second in their competition, and the clock disappeared into the historical ether.
The grandson of Mr Gray (left) and Tom Morgan, chairman of Penrhyn Choir, and a member for over 60 years, pictured with the long-lost clock
The reason for the choir's desire to compete was simple: money for strike funds. Choir chairman Wil Parry told the North Wales Daily Post: "Industrial relations between the quarry owners and the workers were poor. There were a number of strikes in the 1890s and times were hard. They decided to go to Chicago because they knew the cash prizes would help the strike fund.
"They came second in their competition. The story claims the choir would have won if someone hadn't opened a door and blew the music off the stands. But that's just a story and we had nothing to remember the trip [by] at all. Until, that is, we heard about the clock."
The clock was in the possession of a Stafford woman, who came to an agreement with the choir to buy it back from her. Parry said: "The clock is a direct memento of that trip made by our choir to the World Fair and we will treasure it but we will put it on show."
Penrhyn Male Voice Choir are keen to find out more about the clock and its history from the time it was given to Mr Gray and this year. They can be contacted through their website.