The first day of spring on the Jones and Braddock families' 1890 smallholding sees tempers fray as 21st-century expectations clash with the realities of Victorian life.
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In spring 2010, two families volunteered to go back in time.
The Jones's from Denbigh, North Wales
and the Braddocks from Abergavenny, South Wales.
Their destination - 19th Century Snowdonia and a unique way of life.
Get them all together.
It's getting a bit stressful now it is.
If they come round asking for the rent we're finished.
How do you move a cow?!
For one month, they would face a battle for survival
that combined both farm and quarry.
Listen lads, if there's any damage to this tramway you're paying for it.
A Welsh way of life long-since abandoned.
We do not speak Welsh in school.
I'm just trying to eat. Just in case we haven't got anything left.
It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
Coming up -
tensions rise at the Braddocks.
If you give me respect, you'll get it back.
There's a strike brewing at the quarry.
You will not talk of unions here, I'm telling you now.
And the families experience typical Snowdonian spring weather.
If this lasts three or four days what are we going to do, you know,
we're effectively marooned up here.
We won't be able to get out and get any food.
It's Easter Monday in 1890 and the families' third week of smallholding life.
Today the Braddocks and the Jones's are off on a Sunday school trip in typical spring weather.
We are looking forward to the trip because it's getting us
out of the house, away from the routine and it's something different.
The two downsides are firstly, you've got to go in your Sunday best
and secondly, it's pouring with rain.
But at the Braddocks, the rain is the least of their worries.
-Anybody put the porridge on yet?
-I've put the porridge on.
INDISTINCT COMMENT Are you talking to me? I don't eat it hot.
-You are really conscious now of saying anything to him.
Oh, he's a...
You can see how much respect my son has got for me.
Over the last few days tensions have been mounting,
with Jamie accused of eating the family out of house and home and not pulling his weight.
Respect. You lack it completely.
Dad, I don't do that to you every day at all.
You've got to give respect, right?
If you give me respect you'll get it back.
Never once would I even have dreamt of saying that to my father. Once.
But, Dad, you just keep digging at me all the time.
You've just got no respect whatsoever, Jamie.
-I've got respect, Dad.
-No, you haven't.
-My dad hates me so, um...
-I do not at all.
That's what it feels like, that Dad doesn't like spending much time with me.
In Victorian times, children had to obey their parents' strict rules
but for some members of the Braddock family conforming is proving difficult.
With Alisa and myself, Tommy, Leah,
we live together on a day to day basis, we live together all the time so we're used to each other,
we get on absolutely fine, and Jordan lives with his Nan
and Jamie lives in his own house in Cardiff because Jamie's in university.
So there's been a lot of, um, not so much discipline, it's not discipline,
but there's been a lot of, we're not used to each others ways, we're not used to you know,
obviously Alisa and myself know the children
but Jamie's 19, he's nearly 20, so he's an adult now,
so he's not used to being told what to do and you can't have something.
With the food, if it's there he'll just eat it, but we're trying to explain to him
that that has to last the rest of the week.
He had a bit of difficulty grasping that.
I'm a fairly big eater.
I enjoy food, I like vegetables, I like meat, I like fruit,
I like anything and everything I can get my hands on. I like to eat.
I just enjoy food and that's what I found a real struggle because
all you eat is breakfast and then a small lunch and then your tea.
When you need a snack there is nothing to snack on.
That's what I found really difficult.
Over at the Jones's, David is taking a light-hearted approach to parenting.
It's not going to work, whatever you do with that shirt.
-Why have they given me this shirt then?
-It won't work.
Put your white shirt on.
Look up the word wazzock in the dictionary, the description is Ben.
A Ben aka a wazzock.
Wazzock is not in the dictionary.
Hi. Nice to see you.
There will be one more person joining their day out.
David's mother Heulwen is here to spend the day with her family.
With any differences being set aside along with their money worries,
the families have decided to brave the weather for a traditional, if a little soggy, Easter outing.
The Sunday school has planned a community picnic
deep in the Snowdonia mountains
and David is already enjoying himself, despite the weather.
I'm looking forward to perhaps a bit of a treat if we can.
A nice cream tea wouldn't go amiss, some scones,
-some clotted cream and a cup of tea with some jam, that would be lovely.
We might see if the minister will treat us all to a nice cream tea.
The families will be travelling by train,
the main mode of transport in the 1890s.
The railway lines in north Wales were built mainly to transport slate
to England and the rest of the world,
but there was also a burgeoning tourist industry
with trains transporting paying passengers to a whole new world of leisure.
The families kick off their big day out with their favourite hymn.
The only problem is they are nearly 20 years out.
# Praise of heaven
# Praise of heaven... #
The tune that we all recognise today as Cym Rhondda
wasn't composed until 1907, but they won't let that dampen their spirits.
# ..Evermore. #
An overcast picnic may not seem much fun by today's standards
but the 1890 world was one of restricted horizons and small pleasures
with a Sunday school trip offering their only chance to escape.
Families would have looked forward to this the whole year.
Well, my friends, even though I am a minister of the faith
I cannot always control the weather
so I'm afraid we might be better going back towards the station to find some shelter.
So I think we'd better go back up to the train.
Thank you, my friends.
It's a washout and their dreams of a nice day away from the smallholding are over.
We nearly escaped.
We nearly got away from their for the day, didn't we?
-But to no avail.
-We went for a bit of time out.
-A couple of hours.
I'm trying to stay optimistic.
It was a waste of money, wasn't it?
Oh. We haven't paid yet.
BOY: Can we have some food?
That's for Jac, Tommy.
They have their picnic on the train.
At least we're inside eating.
But Ben and Jamie are still not impressed.
I feel sorry for the people back in 1890.
I don't want to live this life any more, I want to go back to my own life.
My feet are cold, my hands are cold...
We get to go back to a cold house.
It's just a rubbish day all round.
I feel sorry, if this is the highlight of 1890
yeah, then I'd rather be a day in the quarry to this, to be honest.
It's pointless for what it's worth.
Back in 1890, train travel would normally be the reserve of the more well-to-do.
This trip will cost the equivalent of a month's wage at the quarry
and for the families the penny has just dropped.
-This trip would cost you well over £1,000.
-That is expensive.
-If you worked it out that way.
-An expensive trip.
Our day out would cost you the equivalent of £1,000.
So that's one hell of a day trip, isn't it?
Oh, I want my money back!
That would be the equivalent of taking us all to London
and having cream tea at the Ritz, wouldn't it?
And the champagne.
On the Orient Express.
Back home and the families get the fires going again so they can at least dry out.
This is going to take about two or three hours to get warm enough that you can even cook on it.
We've been in now about 20 minutes and you can't even boil a kettle.
Pointless exercise. Yesterday I was actually saying not to go.
And I just feel like I've chucked money down the drain.
The Jones's, however, try to make the most of what's left of their day with Heulwen.
Even though it was a bit horrible and eugh and not the nicest day,
we then came home and my mum was here, she has been here today with us
and she told us stories about the old time and that was really good, that was nice.
It was a good day.
-Men then were always working in the evening, always.
-They came home, had their tea, which was called "swper chwarel".
And then they used to sit down, have their tea, and then they'd go out.
Did most of the men work in the quarry, then? Most of them anyway?
Not my family. Clopin didn't because he had a farm.
-No, no. From the village.
-Oh, yes, yes.
Most everybody in the area you know.
-Only dad went to the quarry to work.
It's been really nice having Nan about today.
We've had a really long chat to her,
asking her about her childhood
and that's like the first time we've ever sat down and asked her these things
which is really embarrassing, really, to have to admit that.
You've done a stitch wrong, I think.
I'll undo it for you.
She has always been an important part of the Jones's extended family,
helping out with the children and the chores,
but their busy lives in 2010 don't often allow them to spend quality time together.
OK, be good.
-I will see you.
Bye-bye, see you at the weekend, OK?
-Bye-bye, Heulwen, behave.
-Look after yourself.
I hope it will be slightly warmer when you come back. All right.
-See you, Mam, take care.
As the sun sets on the Easter weekend
-the Braddocks are left counting the cost of all the festivities.
We're struggling a bit, aren't we?
Well, we're just cutting it fine, that's all, but we can do it.
We've got nothing left if anything crops up.
Well, I can bake, I don't think that costs much to do.
What if one of the animals gets ill or something?
-Or one of us gets ill and you've got to pay to see the doctor, cos you'd have to pay,
Should have put money by for a rainy day.
-That's what I'm saying, we can't...
-But every day is a rainy day.
-We've got no fallback fund, have we?
How much is that now?
Next morning brings typical spring weather for Snowdonia.
The Jones's and the Braddocks have to struggle with life in a cold climate.
Well, we've got up this morning to a winter wonderland.
It's quite deep in places, it's about sort of a foot deep in some places
but because it's farming, you can't stop,
you can't just look out the window and say, "It's snowing, I won't bother to do anything today."
You've still got to feed the animals, muck out the stables,
you're still busy, you've got all the same jobs to do as you do any other day.
The snow doesn't make any difference when you're farming.
At 900 feet above sea level, the weather here can change very quickly
and it's not unusual to have snow at this time of year.
Until it clears, the quarry is shut and the men won't be able to work.
It's going to have a knock on effect to the extent that we potentially could lose
a lot of money, and I'm worried that if this lasts three or four days, what we're going to do.
You know, we're effectively marooned up here
and find ourselves at the end of the week, short of food.
CHILDREN SQUEAL AND LAUGH
It's also a day off from school for the kids and they are making the most of it.
I'm going out. I may be gone some time.
I'm just going to check the tent pegs, if I don't come back.
Despite the snow, David Jones has to do all the chores today
because Catrin has a small cut that has become infected.
Oh, sore finger, very sore finger.
I haven't slept a wink last night because it was just throbbing,
it's very painful.
Healthcare was expensive in Victorian times
so ordinary families often had to make do with some home treatments.
Eugh! Green yucky juice.
That was cool.
Over at the Braddocks they are chilling out.
Supplies here are running low but Alisa has decided to make some toffee as a treat.
It's really nice.
But their cosy morning is about to be disturbed.
Mr Hardy, the landlord's agent, has battled the elements to pay them a surprise visit.
-Yes, fine, thank you.
I just thought I'd call just to make an inspection as it is under the tenancy agreement.
-Can I just have a quick look around, then?
Bit of rubbish in the corner there.
Needs a mop, doesn't it? Bit untidy.
You know the agreement says that you really have to be keeping the place in a tidy condition.
The rules of the tenancy agreement were very stringent, and lazy tenants were not tolerated.
-You know you need to keep the wall stock-proof.
Alisa has also been a little naughty.
I understand from the shopkeeper you have been selling your produce in the local shop
and there's some cakes been sold...
So obviously under the tenancy agreement again, we should have some percentage out of that
and that amounts to about tuppence, I think.
-So we'll need that as well before I go.
The Braddocks have no choice but to pay up.
But if they don't clean up their act the landlord could demand
a full quarter's rent instead of just one month's.
Or worse, threaten them with eviction.
I'd like to know who tipped him off about the cakes and the poaching.
Now it's the Jones's turn for an inspection.
Oh, no, the landlord's arrived.
In this area the landlord was also the quarry owner
who paid the men's wages
and he had control over nearly every aspect of the families' lives.
Have a look at these walls here.
Well, obviously in here, it just needs mopping up, doesn't it?
And a general tidy, really.
You know, the chamber pot is still full there so that needs emptying out.
Dust, there's dust on here and that needs tidying up.
It really isn't conforming to the tenancy agreement to be honest with you
so if you could sort that out please, I would be grateful.
The agent charges Catrin a percentage of her profits from the shop.
A shilling and thruppence for that and sixpence for the produce.
And issues the family with another stern warning.
Just one other matter which is quite serious is the poaching issue
which I've been told that you've been trying to buy rabbits from the chap who has been poaching.
No. No. We've seen him about but obviously we have refused to buy anything off him.
All right, well fine if that's the case, but it's a very serious thing if that's caught
so if I come here again and if there is any evidence of any animals
that have been bought from the poaching scenario
then obviously I'm going to have to fine very heavily on that.
You are welcome to check the sheds. OK.
Nice to see you, Mr Jones, Mrs Jones, children.
We'll see each other soon.
The 1890 tenant had little security and David, a solicitor,
can't believe the injustice of it all.
You could have this place spotless, absolutely spotless.
You'll never get a place like this spotless cos it's impossible.
He is still going to come in and he is still going to find fault.
It's just basically a way of getting as much money out of us as the landlord can, for doing...
He gets all that money and we do all the hard work.
The landlord's agent has only been gone a few hours when another visitor arrives.
-Hello. Come on in.
-And he has come to tempt the families with a very special offer.
-Are they sort of poached fish?
-Because we've had the landlord's agent out today.
-And he's warned us about buying goods that are poached.
So we don't really want to get in any trouble.
-That's, as I said, it's up to you entirely.
-The offer is there for you.
-No. I know.
It depends how much it costs really.
-It's one shilling ten pence.
-Is it tuna fish?
-No, it's trout.
Trout. We haven't got much money so we'll have to decline this time.
-Because you know it's like, rent's due.
-Oh, yes, I know.
-Thank you anyway for the offer.
It would have cost about four, five shillings.
Mark has decided to play it safe and in Victorian times, the father always had the final say.
I disagree with that because if everybody is contributing
exactly the same amount financially and...
Yeah, but just for you to have that one fish could mean the whole family gets evicted.
-Yeah, but we wouldn't really get evicted.
-So that sounds selfish,
the whole family get evicted for one person to have a fish.
It's a different story at the Jones's.
If we took two, what's the best you could do for two?
Well, knock a few pence off it.
I'm not eating it. You are the only one eating it.
One and three. One shilling and three pence.
Would you take that?
Stick one more penny on.
No. You're going to get caught.
We won't get caught, Els, don't worry. I'll hide it.
Send my regards to the family.
-I will. Thank you very much.
And if there's ever any poaching going, you know...
-Thank you very much.
-We like a trout.
-I will help.
-OK, thank you.
Even though they are taking a risk
the Jones's want the trout for Ela who doesn't eat meat, only fish.
But she'll take some persuading before she'll touch it.
We won't get caught, don't worry.
We'll keep moving the fish around, Els, all round the house
so the people that might know where it is, don't know where it is.
OK? We'll hide it.
It may be 1890, but snow always means one thing,
it's time for a Braddocks versus Jones snowball fight.
And the pig doesn't want to miss out on the fun either.
This is really good to be out in the fresh air and all of us are here together
having fun and a bit of banter between both families.
But, of course, there's always more banter from Jamie as usual.
Everybody hates Ronaldo in football cos he's the best and
so that's why everybody hates me cos I'm the best at throwing snowballs.
Shall we take him down, guys? Come on.
Jamie has got his dues, but who will be awarded man of the match?
I was on the sideline and I reckon that man of the match was Jac, definitely.
-Well, done, Jac.
-You've got to do a snow dive down there, Jac.
# For he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow... #
The families head back to prepare the evening meal.
-Lovely butter, Mum.
-Thank you, Tommy.
Alisa has been trying hard to economise on food but the boys have
been eating more than their share and supplies are running low.
This is the last of the food now, last of the pork, especially.
We've still got a bit of veg
but the snow today, I don't think did the vegetable patch much good,
but hopefully the veg will survive.
Certainly the last of the meat today
so we've got to think about something else.
More extreme measures to try and get some meat, really.
Next morning the snow has started to thaw
so it's a normal working day for all.
After a long day in the snow yesterday
I think we have to go back up the quarry today and basically
just work twice as hard.
Hopefully get the work that we missed out on yesterday
and a few days last week
to try and make our bargain and hopefully get paid.
I'm not looking forward to the walk up there because it's going to be quite hard,
because as you get a bit higher the snow hasn't started to thaw and where overnight it's quite cold,
it's frozen now so it's quite compact and icy now,
so it's going to be a bit of a treacherous trip I think,
walking up over that hillside to get up to the quarry.
Over at the Jones's there's a bit of a change to Jac's usual routine.
Do you want to go to the quarry?
-Do you want to come and see what it's like in the quarry?
And see if there's any jobs for you there.
See if we can make a bit more money, yeah? Yeah? Do you want to come?
Do we have to go to school tomorrow?
Well, I think you better had.
-Let's see how you get on today...
-And then we'll see about school tomorrow,
but it's for you to have an idea cos you'll be starting work there when you're older.
OK? So it's just for you to have an idea and Ela will just have to
an excuse for you that you're not well or something, for the teacher.
While Jac gets ready for his big day a letter arrives from the landlord.
What is it? What is it?
"Dear Mr Jones, I am currently undecided as to the rent that will be collected this month.
"I await the report from land agent Mr Hardy as to the condition and upkeep of the tyddyn.
"I reserve the right to demand a full quarter rent payment.
"That sum stands as two pounds two shillings and ten pence..."
News that the landlord could demand three months rent is a big blow to the families
who are expecting to pay only one month.
-This is what I think of the landlord's letter.
This is what I think of the landlord's letter.
But Alisa has got more immediate concerns.
It's too hard.
You've got hardly anything to take.
I think it's been building up, when you've been watching the food get less and less and less,
you have good days but I even know that a big lump of food in this house
doesn't last between all the, you know, there's six of us.
I feel dizzy.
I can't say to them don't eat the food
because they've got to eat the food and there's huge arguments over it.
They've got to have it, so...
She's just really sort of at the end of her tether really
because obviously there's no food, now the food has sort of run out,
and just the stresses in the family is telling on everybody, I think.
This is hard. This is the hardest thing.
It's the hardest thing that I've ever had to do.
Because I've enjoyed a lot of it, I've learnt a lot
but as time goes on, it does get more stressful and more hard work.
OK, have a good day.
And remember to say Jac is really ill in bed with flu.
Just apologise to sir, OK?
-He'll be back tomorrow.
OK, have a good day.
Ela has been told to lie about Jac's whereabouts to avoid a fine for truancy,
but will she be able to hold her nerve in front of the teacher?
Does anybody know the whereabouts of Jac?
Jac is ill in bed, sir.
-He's ill in bed.
-He's got the flu, sir.
I hope that the doctor has been to see him.
Yes, sir, he'll be back in school tomorrow, sir.
A short-lived flu?
Yeah. He's getting better, sir.
Good. Good. He missed the trip unfortunately, then, did he?
Um, no, sir, I think he got the flu from the trip. It was raining, sir.
-I think it's probably a bad cold, isn't it, Ela?
Probably, yes. Now, then, you may sit down.
At the quarry, Jac is holding his own with the men.
Well done, Jac, that's the way.
You're showing these men how to do it already.
I may have to sack Jamie and take you on, I think.
Get it to bend as well, that's it. Have you got another brother?
You can bring him.
Get on with it, men. Come on.
The average age for a quarry worker 120 years ago was 28
but at the ripe old age of nine
Jac is the perfect age to start his apprenticeship.
What's important, Jac, is when you're cutting it
there's a little bow, a little bend in the slate
and you've got to make sure that you put it that way up.
For five years Jac's job would be to clear the slate rubble and learn his trade by watching the others.
But there's one job that he must get right from the start.
Jac, I think the men might need a cup of tea in about ten minutes.
-Are you going to go and put the water on?
-Come on, then.
You carry on, men.
The steward calls David Jones aside.
He has a proposition for him, an offer to increase the men's wage from 30 shillings each.
-Yes, very well, thank you.
-I could possibly get 34 shillings for you, but I need something back off you.
-What do you need back off me?
-I heard that your wife, the good Mrs Jones,
she's a good cake maker, and I like a bit of bara brith.
-So what I want off you is a loaf for me every week now
until the end of the month.
OK, it's a deal.
In 1890 it was not unknown for unscrupulous quarry stewards to accept bribes
and smallholders to use farm produce to gain better terms.
Back at the smallholding, Catrin is being a good neighbour.
-KNOCK AT DOOR
Hi. Hello, Alisa, how are you?
Are you OK? You look a bit down.
I'm not too well today and I've got ulcers and things so...
Oh, come here. You poor thing.
-Alisa is at breaking point.
Yes, it is a lot of pressure
on the mothers, isn't it, you know?
-Yes, it is.
-Are you out of your ham now as well?
Yes. That was last night, that was gone.
Because we've still got, so maybe we can give you some of our ham.
-Oh, I don't like to take meat off you.
-No, it's fine, we're in it...
You know, it's fine.
If you haven't got any and we've got plenty, you have...you know, this has got to be a team effort.
I think you're getting... you know, you're putting a lot...
I've got more in this house, to help, and...
-Yeah, but somebody's not pulling their weight, though, are they?
But you are, and it's...you know, you're suffering now because, you know, it's all too much.
It's not fair, is it? On, you know...
Catrin decides to share out some of their precious food.
We need four tablespoons, so... We don't go through that much.
Although the Joneses are also struggling, Catrin has managed better
by keeping a tight rein on the food supplies and on the family's budget.
You see, there's plenty there. You can have a...
I could give you half of that.
I just hope that you don't get short of anything.
-No, don't worry. We'll have to do something between us if we do.
In 2010 Alisa is a woman of independent means
and accepting charity is a bitter pill for her to swallow.
I feel awful, I feel absolutely awful having food off her.
She can see I'm really grateful, I...
It's really very neighbourly, very nice of her
to give me some of her food, because obviously she needs her food as well.
So, yeah, she's been very, very generous.
I can't ever remember having a friend like Catrin, I've got to be honest...
I've never really had a really good friend so, um...you know, I've got people close to me
but it's going to be so sad...
to...to not see her again, see her every day.
So it has been absolutely amazing to meet her and do the stuff that we've done
and we've had such a giggle.
So we've just got to keep in touch, because so often in the past I leave...
you know, moved around a bit, I leave people,
they know who they are, and I feel awful that I never kept in touch
or kept a friendship going, and I'm really not going to lose this one, hopefully!
You know, I'm going to keep in touch definitely, and I think we all will, because we all really get on well,
even Jamie and Ben, you know, they're going to keep in touch
so I'll see Catrin when they come down and visit.
It has been a really, really close friendship and she's amazing.
Now, then, as it is so bitterly cold outside this morning, as we found out earlier,
you may stay indoors during the recreation period this morning
but I want you all to behave yourselves. Is that understood?
Without his best friend to play with, Tommy is feeling left out.
It's quite boring without Jac, and...
because he normally...
is jumping up and down, and then...
..and then he'd...
kind of make it fun.
But I'm the only boy here and they're skipping, which I don't really feel like doing.
Jac will probably be winding everyone up at the quarry.
I kind of feel sorry for them, having to put up with him for...
six hours or something.
Back at the quarry, Jac is facing his biggest test of the day.
Say, Jac, that the tea is too... not so strong.
The others will say it's too strong, but you tell them that's the way I've been taught to do tea. Right?
Right, who else wants one?
Bobby, an old hand, is teaching Jac some important lessons.
They'll be pulling your leg, they'll be telling you to go and fetch sky hooks,
and there isn't such a thing as a sky hook, is there?
-We need to do some painting after dinner, Jac.
-No, we don't.
-Go and ask Mr Humphries, Alan, for some tartan paint.
No, I know we don't have any.
Tartan paint we need. OK, so you write all this down, what you need to do.
As they get back to work, the Joneses are aware
that they're following in the footsteps of David's grandfather,
also a slate quarryman, who died in a quarrying accident at the age of 46.
I've got a picture at home of my grandfather and there's three people
in the picture doing virtually the same thing, one cutting,
one dressing and one...there's one sort of clearing away, and that's the type of work that we would do.
I'd split, Ben would dress and Jac would do the clearing away as the younger person,
so, yes, it's nice to have him here.
After an eight-hour shift it's the end of Jac's first day, and there's a nice surprise for him.
Jac, some grand work today.
-Here's a shilling for you.
He's done very well today, David.
-I gave him a shilling. I hope to see him here in a few years' time.
-He'll definitely be here.
-Much better, I think, than that awful man Jamie there.
-Anyway, he's a good lad. Well done, Jac.
-I'll see you again, then, Jac.
-Thank you, Mr Humphries.
-See you, David.
-Remember that bara brith, David.
It's been a hard day, but the families get together for a cosy evening.
How was your dinner tonight?
Dinner was amazing. Thank you, Catrin.
-Oh, you are welcome.
-It was wonderful.
Oh, it's lovely.
The day's challenges have brought them closer together.
Now I'm feeling a lot happier, I've got some food inside me, some yummy.
You just want a little pick-me-up sometimes, don't you?
You know, I've been there as well, haven't I?
But it is... You know, we don't do it back in modern day, do we?
You know, we don't rely on neighbours or help them out maybe as we should.
-No, that's right.
-It's been nice, hasn't it?
Yeah, it has been nice. We're going to get married next week, aren't we?
Can you imagine the minister's face?
Happiness has been restored.
Daybreak in Snowdonia.
The families are now in their final week of smallholding life.
While the Braddocks go about their usual chores...
-Where shall I put it, Dad?
-Put it in so I can get it backwards.
..David and Ben Jones are planning a surprise for Catrin.
It's her 40th birthday.
This is all we've got to give her, but back in 1890 there wasn't much spare cash
so I'm sure she'll understand.
We're just rushing so she doesn't come out and see it,
because I know she's up but she's not looking out the window at the moment,
she's making breakfast.
Jac, darling, are you up? Jac?
You'll be late for school, Jacs.
Some things don't change. No sign of Jac.
It's quarter past seven and he's still lying in his bed.
Come on, this way.
Come on, Ruth.
Mark Braddock is reaching the end of his tether.
Smallholding life is not for him.
This life in 1890 is an extremely stressful life. Those poor men.
They get to work at, say, nine o'clock in the morning,
they've done three or four hours work by then.
Seeing to the animals, everything that needs to be done,
and they do a full day's work and they come home and do it all again.
And that's their total existence.
Come here. Come here.
No, don't you dare.
I think my role is, um... chief moaner,
chief grumpy-guts and cow milker.
That's been my role, I think, in this whole experience.
Alisa's turned out to be the pillar, which back home she's not.
She has kept everybody going, everything together,
she's kept this place together, she's made sure there's food on the table, she's been fantastic.
that's a real nice surprise out of it all, because I think she's proved
something to herself as well, which has been nice.
-I'm sorry for being moany.
-I want to say sorry for being moany.
Oh, you've got to say sorry.
-I want to.
-So are you happy now?
-No, I'm not happy.
Oh, who's done that?
Oh, my goodness. Oh, thank you.
This is a big day and it's a lovely day, starts great,
and I'm feeling fighting fit
and the joints aren't hurting today or anything.
So...life begins at 40.
Let's get the porridge on.
7.30, and time for the men to leave for the quarry.
They now have only two full working days left to meet their production target of 3,000 slates.
How many do you reckon we've got?
-I reckon we've got about 2,000 there.
-We need to be making over 100 an hour.
0.5 of a second we need to be making a slate.
-Splitting it and dressing it?
It's an impossible task, and spirits are low.
We're stuffed. It ain't going to happen, is it?
At the quarry, the steward's welcome is less than warm.
Ten minutes late today. There'll be a tuppence fine for you each. OK?
So come on, then, lads,
let's get on these slates. Come on.
For the men it's the last straw.
Been fined again this morning.
We haven't been paid a penny since we've been here.
Getting palmed off with poor slate.
We've just had enough, all of us.
Ben Jones downs tools.
What the hell's going on here? Get out.
That's another tuppence fine for you, Ben, for lying down on the job.
Get back to work this instant.
Go on! That's fourpence today now already.
Stand up, children.
At school, the children have a visitor.
Good morning, sir.
Good morning, Mr Williams.
The government inspector has arrived to assess how well the pupils are performing.
You are going to be tested today, as you know, on your reading skills
and your skills in writing and also in mathematics.
This is Edward I, of lengthy limb.
Wales was annexed to the realm by him.
A lot rides on this exam.
..warred with the Scots.
If the children perform badly, the school might have its grant cut.
Son of Henry III, from whose life we find...
And Tommy, as a pupil teacher, may not receive a single penny of his weekly wage.
The examination is now over.
Let us hope that the results are successful
and that this will be for the benefit of the school in the future.
I got a bit confused on the writing so I just wrote...
everything that came into my head really.
The butcher arrives at the smallholding, with some much-needed supplies.
-How are you?
-Fine, thank you. Do come in.
Big basket again.
I've heard you've got some geese for sale. Have you got a price in mind?
I don't know what you can do for us, a deal. We could do with a joint of meat each family.
Right, I've got some joints of flitches here, which are lovely.
-I was thinking to get ten shillings for these, five shillings each.
And I'd give you 13 shillings for the geese.
Oh, that would be fantastic. Come on, let's go and get the geese.
-Yeah, we're quite happy.
-So we've clinched a deal?
-You've come to our rescue again, William. Thank you very much.
-I think I'll even give you a kiss, William.
-Oh, go on, I have to now as well.
-Thank you so much.
The joints of meat and extra cash mean that Catrin and Alisa can now afford to be less restrained
when they next buy provisions in the village shop.
That was an amazing deal.
How much was that coffee, Alisa?
-Can I afford that now?
-Yeah. You can afford it.
-I was more concerned...
-You can afford it.
-Yes, I'm having it!
At the quarry, the men's resentment has turned to fighting talk.
I'm wondering whether or not the steward actually imposes these fines,
then gets the money off the boss to pay us and pockets the fines himself.
I think he just makes them up.
-It's up to everybody themselves but I think we should join the union.
-Yeah, I think it's worth the sixpence.
"A red mist is descending over the slate quarries of north Wales.
"Campaign against poor conditions, poor pay..."
Trade unions were particularly militant in the North Wales slate belt of 1890,
campaigning for better pay and safer working conditions.
"Now we want the Welsh spirit in the workers' fight. Organise your grumbles and fight your opposition."
Let's go get started then, get some slate sorted.
Er, we've been having a discussion at lunchtime, Mr Humphries, and...
..we're not happy with the work situation here, we're not happy with a number of things.
You can't make slates, then you blame the slate itself for being poor quarrymen.
-It's poor quality slate and you know it.
-You wouldn't know poor-quality slate if it hit you in the eye.
Well, our position is this...
Your position is that you will work until the end of the month,
which you have two days to go, or you leave now with nothing.
Things are changing.
-We are now part of a union and that union is going to stand up for us.
-We're part of a union.
-You will not talk of unions here, I'm telling you now.
-You will not talk of unions here, right?
-We're not going out to work.
I shall be back in a few hours, telling you
to move from this quarry forthwith or I will get the constabulary here.
That is your position. OK?
The steward has called their bluff.
I could imagine it would have been a nightmarish thing to have had to do in 1890, to have to try and stand up
to a quarry owner who'd given you a hard time for years and years and...
And the other thing we've got to remember in the back of our minds
is that the person we're standing up to is our landlord, which, um...
has an added factor for us, because if it all goes wrong we'll be kicked out of our homes.
Rather than risk a confrontation with the constabulary, the men head for home.
At the school, the government inspector is marking the children's examination papers.
This is Leah's work.
Very, very well presented, her handwriting is very good.
Yes, I have commented often in the past on the excellence of her handwriting.
Then we have Ela's work here.
-She has some difficulty keeping the blots away from the...
-Yes, she has.
..from her writing.
And this is Jac's.
-This is her brother, Jac.
-Jac's writing isn't as tidy.
-No. We have had problems, I'm afraid, with Jac's handwriting.
And this is, er...
-Tommy. I notice that in the dictation
he has actually digressed from the script that I was reading.
He appears to have been having difficulties.
Because that is not the way forward, if he wants to...
No indeed, especially if he's to progress as a pupil teacher.
Exactly. I shall have a word with him.
Yes, indeed. I think I would recommend that, Mr Williams.
The school's future and Tommy's wage hang in the balance.
David Jones is checking on the family's flock of Welsh mountain sheep.
I'm a bit worried about this sheep and lamb here.
I'm just a bit concerned that she's not feeding, she's not suckling.
I don't know if the mother has sort of lost interest or...
The mother's not running over to me now and saying, "That's my lamb."
I'm not quite sure which one the mother is.
I don't know if this is Mum here.
Let's have a look.
Just leave her for a minute, just see if Mum comes.
She's just not suckling, see?
The mum's just wandering off when she's trying to suckle.
The lamb's very weak.
I don't think...you know, it's going to last much longer.
So I think we have to get it inside.
David takes the lamb and its mother into the barn.
Just trying to get him to suckle.
I think it's one of Mark's lambs actually, but, you know,
it's whoever's nearest and whoever's closest.
It's not a case of, you know, saying to Mark, "You've got to do it."
We've all got to chip in, because otherwise we're going to lose a lamb between us, aren't we?
Back in 1890, if you had a smallholding and you had a few sheep,
you know, you lose one lamb, that's a lot of income you've lost.
There you go.
She's taking it now.
-I think we need to leave them in here.
Concerned, David calls in neighbour and seasoned shepherd Gareth Wyn Jones.
His intention is immediately drawn to the Joneses' dry-stone walls.
David and Ben's birthday surprise for Catrin leaves him unimpressed.
What are these stones?
Birthday message for my lovely wife on her 40th birthday.
I would never do that. Never take the stones off the walls.
These walls are so important to you to keep the sheep in.
You get these sheep out or get a fox in at night, you don't want it, you don't want it.
It is nice, isn't it?
-Maybe it would have been nicer making a little card for her.
You want to put these back before the agents or anyone else sees them.
-It's lucky it's me that walked in.
-Jac and I will get them back up.
I'll watch you.
-You're going to put them back where you got them from?
-In the middle of the wall, I think.
The bigger ones on the outside.
They might just look like stones but...
this is a very important part of the farm.
It keeps everything in and keeps everything out.
-Big ones on the outside.
-Big ones on the outside.
-Little ones in the middle, Jac.
Mind your fingers, Jac.
-Little ones in the middle, to lock the wall, and the bigger ones there.
-On the outside.
While David and Jac repair the wall, Gareth takes a look at the lamb.
Let's have a look. Turn her over a little bit.
There's a lot of wool here, look.
There's too much of this wool, so if we can get the shears tomorrow...
And because she's a young sheep,
first lamb for her,
she's not sure what to do so she's a little bit insecure about moving around.
-Look at his little tail going.
He's happy, having a bellyful.
He's a good little lamb. Fair play.
He's going to survive, 100%.
Over at the Braddocks', Leah has made a pet of the family's cockerel.
# Twinkle, twinkle, little star... #
Smallholders would rarely have shown such sentimentality.
In the barn...
..Mark and Alisa are once again battling with their cow.
How much have we got? Nearly a bucket.
Watch her feet, because she'll kick you.
We're just having a bronco today.
She's been a nightmare. It's like trying to milk a rodeo cow.
That's it, I'm off.
That's her way, she's just about to kick somebody, and it's normally me.
The farmer said that she might miss the other cow.
Do you think she wants to go for a walk? Do you take cows for a walk?
The families still have a lot to learn about smallholding life.
it's payday at the quarry.
Here's another one here.
It's basically useless, really, so...
-We hid a few at the back.
-I think he's going to clock them.
They'll come out of their wages.
The landlord demands his rent.
Well, if he's going to use his bully-boy tactics to fine us...
Muddy boots on the floor, eh? And on the bed.
..there's going to be hell to pay.
And reality bites as the families say goodbye to 1890.
The best thing we've done, isn't it?
Yeah, apart from getting married and having kids, they were good as well.
You know, your heart is so full here.
There's, like, nowhere like this... on Earth.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
The first day of spring on the Jones and Braddock families' 1890 smallholding sees tempers fray as 21st-century expectations clash with the realities of Victorian life.
Heavy snow, a surprise inspection by the landlord's agent and a belligerent quarry steward bring further hardship. Now in their third week of Victorian life, the families are learning that they may have few rights in their harsh new world but they do have each other.