Arthur Ransome Wiki

Slater Bob or Old Bob is a slate miner working inside Ling Scar, mining Slate for your roofs and slate for your schools and slate pencils .... But he says If you find it (gold) I don't know but what I might give slates a rest. Give me metal every time. He is an old man with very long arms, and was a lad in the mines nigh sixty year since (PP3).

Slater Bob tells the Swallows, Amazons and D’s the story about the gold discovery by the officer going off to war (one of the few mentions of the Great War in the books). Molly Blackett said earlier "He’s been talking of gold ever since I was a little girl" (PP2). Later Captain Flint says he heard the same story when he was a boy; thirty years ago it was the South African War (PP33).

He knows the Turner family as he says "yer mothers father (ie Grandfather Turner) took me wi him when he went to Africa after that same stuff".

Next year they visit Golden Gulch where Slater Bob is blasting and extending the mine (PM24). Slater Bob eats his bread and cheese: "I've quarried and mined for fifty years on a bit of cheese to my diner and I don’t fancy nowt else". But he doesn't mind accepting a bottle of beer; Nancy explains privately to Dorothea that he "jolly well likes it".

Slater Bob is based on John (Willie) Shaw, an old miner who had been working for Oscar Gnosspelius, the original for Squashy Hat or Timothy in Pigeon Post. AR noted on 27 March 1935 Went up behind Tilberthwaite with Gnossie. Saw several old workings and a suitable bit of country for my story (NBUS pages 88,91).