Welsh Mines Society201112284240 by dfsiopmhy6

VIEWS: 190 PAGES: 24

									                                                                                              ISSN 1746-7551

                     Welsh Mines Society
                               (Member of the National Association of Mining History Organisations)

 NEWSLETTER 58                                                                           Spring 2008

                                                                  Announcements .......................... 3
                                                                  Forthcoming Events ................... 3
                                                                  Summer 2008 Field Meet............ 4
                                                                  Autumn 2008 Field Meet ............ 5
                                                                  Field Reports.............................. 6
                                                                  The Wye Valley Mines ................ 8
                                                                  Mines on the Hafod Estate........ 11
                                                                  News ........................................ 14
                                                                  Reviews .................................... 19
                                                                  Queries..................................... 20
                                                                  Correspondence ....................... 21
                                                                  NAMHO ................................... 23
                                                                  Membership.............................. 23
                                                                  Tailings .................................... 24

Cwmorthin staircase (see item 23)                 Dafydd Jones1. Meets for 2009 In
                                                              discussion with our President
and other members a couple of suggestions have been made (by me) for meets for 2009.
This is not an attempt to circumvent the usual process of choosing a meet venue at the
Saturday evening dinner of the previous meet, but more an endeavour to put forward some
ideas in advance so that members have a chance to think about what might be involved
before ideas are suggested at the dinner. The two venues I propose are (i) north-east Wales
(possibly Halkyn and Minera plus an underground trip in the Milwr Tunnel for those
inclined) and (ii) the south Wales coalfield to the north of Blaenafon to look at early coal,
limestone and iron remains and the tramways and leat systems associated with them. An
underground trip (admittedly a tame one) would be possible at Big Pit mining museum.
Both these weekends require that one or more people, preferably with local knowledge,
visit the areas concerned to find suitable locations for the Saturday evening meal and scout
out the areas for interesting places to visit. In addition, for the north-east Wales meet,
contact would need to be made with Grosvenor Caving Club who control the access to the
Milwr Tunnel and provide leaders. Geoff Newton has provisionally agreed to make some
enquiries for a south Wales meet – if anyone could suggest someone (not necessarily a

                 President: GEORGE HALL, Abilene, Sheet Road, Ludlow, SY8 1LR
 Chairman: MOLE (AKA John Hine), The Grottage, 2 Cullis Lane, Mile End, Coleford, Glos., GL16 7QF
   Secretary/Treasurer: DAVID ROE, 20 Lutterburn Street, Ugborough, Ivybridge, Devon, PL21 0NG
        Editor: DAVE LINTON, Hendre Coed Uchaf, Llanaber, Barmouth, Gwynedd, LL42 1AJ

Newsletter 58                      Welsh Mines Society
WMS member) who has a good knowledge of the mining archaeology of the area that
Geoff could talk to it would be most useful.
  In connection with future meets David Roe tells me he has not had any response to his
request for a ‘Field Meets Co-ordinator’ (see NL 57 item 2) – we really do need a member
(or members) to step forward and do this. They don’t need to organise meets themselves,
they just need to encourage those members who have knowledge (but who perhaps lack the
confidence) to organise all or part of a field weekend. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the
task of organising a weekend meet can quite sensibly be split between a number of people,
so anyone who does contemplate helping in this respect should be assured that the burden
of responsibility for the whole weekend need not descend on them alone.
2. Journal progress The journal is progressing, albeit slowly. At present I am waiting
for just one paper and there’s another paper that may need some more work before the
publication can be copy-edited as a whole. Then it should just be a case of getting it printed
and distributed. Until we know the exact printing costs we won’t be able to decide on a
cover price, but I hope that WMS members who did not attend the Bickfest will be able to
purchase copies at a discount compared to the copies we hope to sell outside WMS. In
response to David Roe’s request for a Journal Administrator (NL 57 item 3), Caroline
Smyth (of Porthmadog) has kindly volunteered to take on this task – so I would extend my
grateful thanks on behalf of the Society to her.
  Although I haven’t got the first edition out of the door, I would be very happy to receive
submissions for a second edition which I would hope to publish in about two years’ time.
I’ve already had one paper for this and there are at least a couple of others in the pipeline.
3. New Newsletter printer It is intended that this edition of the Newsletter will be
printed by a new (to us) printer. After various problems with our usual printer (see item 4
below), Secretary David Roe has found a new printer. Additional benefits from this are that
the Newsletter can be stapled by the printer and the printer is willing to handle colour, and
will include a single sheet in colour for no increase in price. At the moment I’m not sure
how best to take advantage of this, as it will be necessary to ensure that those pictures
requiring colour reproduction end up on the same printed sheet (not necessarily adjacent
pages) of the Newsletter. Meeting this constraint, along with fitting the material available
into the Newsletter, will be non-trivial. The obvious location for a colour picture would be
the front page, but that leaves me with the question of the back page, which in our current
format rarely has any pictures. However, if I receive photographs which are suitable I will
certainly consider reproducing them in colour.
4. Newsletter content It will not escape members’ notice that this Newsletter is rather
thinner than usual. Furthermore it will be fairly obvious that, with a few honourable
exceptions, most of the content was contributed by George Hall or myself. I find this rather
worrying as I consider it is the Newsletter that to a large extent holds the Society together,
particularly for those members who do not or cannot attend field meetings. It is also our
public face to the rest of the mining history community. I appreciate that not all members
are in a position to do original research or contribute news items about current events in the
Welsh mining scene, but for those who are I would urge them to make the effort to do so. It
is far too easy, particularly considering the success of the Bickfest, for members to relax
and assume that someone else will write or organise something original and interesting.
However, without input from a significant number of members (and this also relates to item
1 above) the Society is in danger of turning into a social club which meets for a nice walk
and a comfortable dinner and chat twice a year – and not even that if members do not come
                                   Welsh Mines Society                          Spring 2008
forward to organise meets. If this happens not only will existing members lose something
valuable, but there will be much less that is attractive about the Society to encourage
younger and more active people to join and contribute. It is obvious from the activity on the
web (see item 31 below) that there is currently a great deal of interest in mining history;
however, unless we can maintain our own momentum in this field, we will be left behind as
enthusiasts find other avenues for discussion of mining history.

5. Newsletter 57 – Apologies The Editor apologises for the poor quality of reproduction
of Newsletter 57. This was due to problems with a new machine at the printers. We hope to
avoid such problems for this and future issues (see item 3 above). The Editor also
apologises for a mistake in the Bickfest report (item 10) in which David Bick’s sons were
referred to as ‘Tom and William’ instead of ‘Edward and William’.
6. Cambrian Caving Council (NL 56 item 3) On 9th March 2008 WMS was accepted as
a member of the Cambrian Caving Council. As mentioned in NL 56, our interests coincide
in a number of areas, particularly those of access and conservation. There are also benefits
to CCC as grant money to them from the Sports Council for Wales is apparently based on
the membership of the Council’s member organisations. For more information about the
CCC see www.cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk

                             7. Forthcoming Events
24th–26th May 2008            WMPT survey and vegetation clearance, Bronfloyd

7th–8th June 2008             WMS Summer Field Meet: Plynlimon and Blaen Caelan
                              (details below)

15th–21st June 2008           AMiTEM 2008: Ancient Mining in Turkey and the Eastern
                              Mediterranean, Ankara, Turkey amitem.atilim.edu.tr

28th–29th June 2008           WMPT working weekend Bronfloyd/Penyclun (t.b.c.)

11th–13th July 2008           NAMHO Conference: ‘Mines and People: the Mining
                              Industries of Scotland’, Scottish Mining Museum, Lady
                              Victoria Colliery, Newtongrange, Edinburgh

15th–20th July 2008           Nenthead access days: details from John Hine (a.k.a. Mole)

2nd–3rd August 2008           WMPT, Dylife

23rd–25th August              WMPT Heritage weekend: Van, Nantiago, Snowbrook,
                              Hafan, Bwlchglas (plus evening event 23rd August)

Newsletter 58                      Welsh Mines Society
20th–21st September 2008      WMS Autumn Meet: The Dylife and Rhoswydol Mines
                              (details below)

24th Oct.–2nd Nov. 2008       Nenthead access days: details from John Hine (a.k.a. Mole)

19th–21st June 2009           NAMHO Conference: ‘Mining Landscapes and their
                              Elements’, County Hall, Matlock
Should you become aware of forthcoming events of possible interest to members please tell
the editor about them so they can be included in future Newsletters.

                           Summer 2008 Field Meet
                          Plynlimon and Blaen Caelan
8. Weekend 7th–8th June 2008
Location Pont Erwyd
Organisers George Hall and Robert Ireland
Saturday 7th June Meet at 11a.m., at the Eisteddfa Curig car park SN 797 841, at the
summit of the Plynlimon Pass on the A44 between Llangurig and Aberystwyth, for a walk
to the Plynlimon Mine. A special parking rate for the Society has kindly been offered by
the owners.
Saturday Evening Dinner at the George Borrow Hotel, Pont Erwyd SY23 3AD, 6.30 for
7.00p.m. They are offering a three-course ‘Carvery’ for £11.50. There is also an à la carte
menu available – please contact George Hall if you wish to order from this menu before
Saturday, 31st May.
Sunday 8th June Meet at 10.30a.m. at Rhyd-yr-onen farm, courtesy of the owner Mr.
John Thomas. To get there take the Nant-y-Moch road out of Talybont village (to right of
the Black Lion). After two miles the road passes through a wood, just beyond which is a
cattle grid. Fork left in another few yards, then keep right, past the old chapel (gate), and
park anywhere near the ‘cross roads’ at SN 702 901, without (of course) blocking roads or
gates. GWH will ‘pass a cap round’ for the parking. From there walk to Nant-y-Nod and
Blaen Ceulan Mines. Nant-y-Nod entails a fair climb – those wishing to avoid this can go
direct to Blaen Ceulan along the valley.
General information     On both days please bring a packed lunch.
The George Borrow provides bed and breakfast at £37 per person per night. (tel:
01970 890230, www.thegeorgeborrowhotel.co.uk
Alternative accommodation in the vicinity is also available at the Dyffryn Castell Hotel,
Pont Erwyd, tel: 01970 890237; Cwmwythig Farmhouse, Capel Bangor, twin £50 to £60,
tel: 01970 880640; and Awel-Deg, Capel Bangor, double £56, tel: 01970 880681. Capel
Bangor is on the way from Pont Erwyd to Talybont.
Camping is available at the Woodlands Caravan Park, Devil’s Bridge, tel: 01970 890233.

                                   Welsh Mines Society                         Spring 2008
Please book your own accommodation. Phone George if you want more addresses, or call
Aberystwyth Tourist Information 01970 612125, aberystwythTIC@ceredigion.gov.uk.
There are several hotels, guest houses etc. in and around Aberystwyth.

                          Autumn 2008 Field Meet
                       The Dylife and Rhoswydol Mines
9. Weekend       20th–21st September 2008
Location    Llanidloes, Powys (Maps: 1:25,000 Explorer sheets 214 and 215)
Organisers David James, 01933 681044 / 01974 282377 (surface) and Michael Brown,
01981 540596 (underground).
Saturday 20th September Dylife: meet at the car park (SN 861 940) by the former St.
David’s church at 10.30a.m. Many members will recall that 2008 is the thirtieth
anniversary of the Dylife meeting organised by David Bick to gauge support for the idea of
what became the Welsh Mines Society in 1979. There has been much recent work in the
Dylife area, including important new discoveries by Michael below grass, some of which
will be on offer to the insured and equipped. The day is planned as a walk taking in
Esgairgaled, the Red Wheel pit, the junction of the lodes, the Dylife lode outcrop workings
and the workings along the Clywedog to Castle Rock: total distance approximately 4–5km,
depending on your tastes for diversion. Some of the terrain on this day (and the Sunday) is
uneven and suitable footwear and outdoor clothing are advisable.
Saturday Evening Dinner at the Red Lion Hotel, 8 Longbridge Street, Llanidloes
SY18 6EE. The hotel can seat 44 at a pinch so first come first served. Owing to likely
commitments of the organisers in early September, George Hall has kindly offered to take
bookings for dinner, and your choice of starter, by 1st September at the latest please
(choices for second and third courses not needed in advance). If undersubscribed an
announcement will be made on Saturday morning but choice may then be limited. Parking
on the main street in Llanidloes is often sparse but car parks are quite close. George Hall’s
address is ‘Abilene’, Sheet Road, Ludlow SY8 1LR, tel. 01584 877521.
  Dinner will be a carvery offering 3 courses and tea/coffee, price £15 payable on the
night. Menu: Starter either melon balls or thick country vegetable soup (tell George your
choice!), Carvery with three meats: Beef, Pork, and Lamb. White meat option Turkey, also
vegetarian option of Nut Roast or Med. Vegetable Bake. Choice of 9 vegetables, Sweet,
choice of 3, followed by tea or coffee. The hotel has 4 real ales, a wine menu and all usual
bar offerings.
Sunday 21st September Again meet at the car park (SN 861 940) by the former St.
David’s church at 10.30a.m. to drive together to the farm track to Rhoswydol where we
have permission for access; 4x4 vehicles will be welcome, especially for the final ferrying
across Nant y Fedw. Our walk will start from the area of Prosser’s adit, visit the site of
Green’s mill then climb Banc Rhoswydol (fairly steep but good footing) to see the
workings above Smithy level. If the organisers have begun to understand this site by
September some explanations will be offered. We shall then cross the summit and take
forestry tracks to the western Ceulan opencast on the main lode, returning on more gentle
tracks to the vehicles via Field shaft: total distance approximately 4km. There will be minor
opportunities for underground ventures in a couple of places.
Newsletter 58                      Welsh Mines Society
Llanidloes has a good selection of pubs, hotels and guest houses, many in walking distance
of the Red Lion dinner venue. Useful info at www.llanidloes.com Some possibilities are:
  The Red Lion, Longbridge Street, Llanidloes SY18 6EE. 01686 412270
  Lloyd’s Hotel, Cambrian Place, Llanidloes SY18 6BX. 01686 412284/412666
  The Mount Inn, China Street, Llanidloes SY18 6AB. 01686 412247
  Trewythen Arms Hotel, Great Oak Street, Llanidloes SY18 6BW. 01686 411333
  Wynnstay Arms Hotel, Llanbrynmair, Powys SY19 7AA. 01650 521431
  Dyffryn Glyn B&B, Llanidloes SY18 6NE. 01686 412219
  Esgairmaen Farm, Fan, Llanidloes SY18 6NT. 01686 430272
  Castell-y-Gwynt, Trefeglwys, Powys, SY17 5QG. 01686 430480
  Cefn Colwyn, Trefeglwys, Powys SY17 5RF. 01686 430648
Also, there is of course the famous Star Inn, Dylife SY19 7BW. 01650 521345
  Dol-llys Farm, SY18 6JA, just outside Llanidloes (owned by the parents of a good friend
to WMS), SN 962 858, 01686 412694
  Tyn-y-Fron Camp & Caravan site, Cwmbelan, near Llanidloes SN 938 816,
07802 662697
  Esgairfochnant, Aberhosan (with toilets and showers). 01654 703819

                                     Field Reports
10. Conference report: ‘Industry and Culture?’ Second annual conference of the
History Forum for Wales, 16th–18th November 2007.
  The History Forum for Wales was founded in 1999 with the objective of enabling
Historical Societies throughout Wales to share experiences, research results and resources
and to run events in partnership. Their second conference took place at the splendid facility
at Plas Tan y Bwlch, Maentwrog, an establishment with its own well established tradition
of historical research and interpretation. The objective was to look at Welsh industrial
heritage and how to promote interest and instil pride in it among a wider audience. In
practice the focus was very much on non-ferrous metal mining with the iron/coal industry
and the woollen industry getting little specific mention.
  The programme was divided into three sections: ‘presenting’ industrial heritage,
‘promoting’ it and the ‘spirit of the miners’ initiative. Within this framework the talks
  • ‘Metal Mines as a Geological Study Resource’, J. Mason (NMGW)
  • ‘Mines and Quarries; aspects of recording’, D. Perceval (RCAHMW)
  • ‘History of Stone Quarrying in North Wales’, J.B. Sinclair (Tarmac Western) and
     R.D.W. Fenn (Aggregate Industries)
  • ‘The Visitor and our Mining Heritage’, N. Johnstone (Menter Mon)
  • ‘Early Ironworking in Snowdonia’, P. Crewe (formerly SNPA)
  • ‘Brunel in South Wales’, S. Jones (University of Glamorgan)
  • ‘Metal Mining Heritage in Central Wales – assessing value’, D.M.D. James
     (University of Cardiff)
  • ‘Rise and Fall of the Gold Mining Industry of Merioneth’, G.W. Hall (Elenith Mining,
     president WMS)
                                   Welsh Mines Society                        Spring 2008
  • ‘Spirit of the Miners – working with the communities’, P. Sambrook (Trysor)
  • ‘Interpreting the Human History of Industrialisation’, S. Mastorius (National
     Waterfront Museum, Swansea)
  • ‘Mining Metals, Capturing Minds’, A. Rogers (formerly MP for Rhondda)
  On the Saturday afternoon a short field trip enabled participants to visit the medieval
bloom-iron smelter at Llwyn Du, explained by ex-SNPA archaeologist Peter Crewe, and
the Gwynfynedd gold mine, explained by our own George Hall (who was of course the
guiding spirit in the reopening of the mine in the 1980s). Failing light prevented the
planned visit to Glasdir but, in the icy gloom of the car park below Tyddyn Gwladys,
George gave a memorable ex-tempore lecture on flotation to remind us what we had
  The programme ended with a plenary session discussing ideas and issues: it should result
in a summary document intended to increase awareness of industrial heritage matters
amongst the Welsh Assembly Government and to lobby for appropriate financial and
legislative support. It was unfortunate that no representative of CADW or of the office of
the Minister for Culture, Welsh Language, Sports and Tourism felt able (or willing?) to
take up their invitations to attend. It was of course that time of year that many of our
political masters and top bureaucrats are reputed take their secretaries on fact-finding
missions to the Bahamas. To the writer, highlights included the need to capture the interest
of the young by enthusiastic personal guidance rather than over-reliance on interpretation
boards, the need to train the future trainers/guides (in which WMS/WMPT expertise could
have a significant role) and the increasing awareness amongst the cultural/touristic
community that commercial metal mining and its associated research in Wales may not yet
be truly dead. Heritage is both in working communities and the sites/museums; finding a
balance between the living and the dead is the challenge for the future.
  The event was very poorly advertised outside the cultural cognoscenti; one possibility for
improvement is that WMS becomes an affiliate member of HFW and gets better access to
what is going on in the heritage and conservation field: from informal enquiry HFW would
welcome such an initiative and perhaps WMS officers should schedule a discussion on this
at our next AGM. Next year’s conference will discuss ‘Wales in the Age of
Enlightenment’; let us hope that the web site (www.fforwmhanescymru.org.uk/events.htm)
gets updated in time.                                                          David James
[If we consider the ‘Age of Enlightenment’ to cover something like 1650–1800, it would
seem there should be ample scope within the subject of ‘Wales in the Age of
Enlightenment’ for a lecture or two about The Mine Adventurers! Any volunteers? – Ed.]
11. WMS Winter Meet 16th March 2008 at ‘Abilene’ Some 24 WMS members
attended George and Nheng Hall’s winter indoor meet this year and enjoyed an excellent
presentation by Dr. David Pelham on copper mining evaluations in Kazakhstan and
exploration geology and prospecting in Liberia. After lunch Geoff Newton entertained us
with photographs taken from the 2007 Field Meets.
   As usual, some who attended took advantage of George’s extensive mining library for
their own research and everyone enjoyed the opportunity to socialise. Thanks are due to
George and Nheng for their hospitality.

Newsletter 58                      Welsh Mines Society
                              The Wye Valley Mines
12. The two Wye Valley mines are situated on the opposite banks of that river, about two
miles north of where it meets the A44 at the ‘Sweet Lamb’ turning. They have been
described by Dr. O.T. Jones, David Bick, and more recently by Dr. David James (in British
Mining No. 80), and Nigel Chapman (British Mining No. 81 The Van Mines). However all
these accounts are rather brief, and I hope that members will appreciate some greater detail,
drawn from the Mining Journal. In this publication there are numerous reports from both
mines between 1863 and 1884.
   The mine to the east of the river seems to have been earlier called Nant y Gwyrdy, from
the tributary brook on whose southern bank it lies, and Hunt includes that name (‘not at
work’) in his list of mines in Montgomeryshire in 1845–46. However, it does not appear to
have ever been officially used during the principal period of development in the later 19th
   John Taylor’s West Nanty Mine Company (Ltd), in 500 shares of £10 (their Nanty Mine
being then in a prosperous state), worked this mine between 1863 and 1866. It was next
carried on privately by a Mr. Charlton; then by the Wye Valley Lead Mining Company
(Ltd) from mid-1874. This company became New Wye Valley in 1880; and The Wye Mine
(Ltd) made a final effort from early 1883 to mid-1884. The Wye Valley and Wye Mine
companies were all superintended by John Kitto.
   The western mine was known locally as Dol, but this name does not appear in the MJ
either. The Wye Lead Mining Company (Ltd), promoted by J.H. Murchison, reopened the
mine in October 1868, but they gave up in 1872. The West Wye Valley Lead Mining
Company (Ltd), another of Kitto’s companies, started work late in 1875 and ceased
operations in 1880.
   In both mines the pre-1860s workings were evidently of very limited extent, and nothing
has been done at either since 1884.
   Dr. O.T. Jones states that the mines were on separate lodes, but Dr. David James has
recently confirmed the 19th century mine reports, which say that only one lode, claimed to
be a continuation of the Van lode, and which runs through both mines, was worked
   The Taylors’ agent at West Nanty was William Williams, the discoverer, and later
manager, of the Van Mine. Work started in mid-1863, and they then drove the adit, sank
the engine-shaft to it and on to the 10 fathom level, and extended the adit east and west. A
30-ft. water-wheel, drawing machine, and dressing-floors, with crushing-rolls and buddles,
were also erected.
   The floors being ready, stoping began in August 1864, and during 1865 four or five
stopes were worked over adit, at £2.25 to £2.75 per fathom. But they were rather poor,
rarely worth as much as 15 cwt per fathom, gradually falling to 8 cwt, the latter not a
paying figure, and the 10 proved to be very disappointing. The last report in the MJ
appeared in August 1866, and the mine was offered for sale in April 1867.
   Mr. Charlton had possession about 1870, and he clearly did a good deal of work, as John
Kitto reported in 1874 that the engine-shaft had been sunk to 22 and 34 fathom levels. He
also had a dressing-plant on the mine, but no production seems to have been recorded in the
Mineral Statistics. He died at some time in the early 1870s.
   A prospectus for a proposed company, North Van Mines (Limited), to work this mine
and North Van, several miles away, appeared in May 1874, but it did not attract
subscribers. Its capital was to have been £60,000 in 12,000 £5 shares, of which 4,000
shares (£20,000) were to be taken by the vendors in part payment. The provisional directors
                                    Welsh Mines Society                          Spring 2008
do not appear to have been involved in the other companies who tried these mines.
   However, in the same year the Wye Valley Mining Co., whose prospectus appeared in
August, was successfully floated. It had a nominal capital of £30,000 in shares of £3, from
which £20,000 (£2,000 in cash, the remainder in paid-up shares) went to pay for the
property. H. Halford & Co., of Lombard Street, were the promoting brokers. I do not know
whether they acquired it from Mr. Charlton’s executors or from an intermediary, but I
suspect the latter. In either case the generous vendor guaranteed a dividend of 10% for the
first year, but I must suspect that he (or they) defrayed the cost of this largesse by the sale
of some of his free shares, the shares for some time realising a substantial premium. At this
date the adit had reached a length of 136 fathoms.
   Work began in October, Kitto set to with his usual energy, and soon discovered rich ore
ground, both in stopes above adit, and in the 10 east, where ore was driven through for 30
fathoms, worth £50 to £100 per fathom. The 22 east was pushed on towards this as rapidly
as possible, with the 22 west also driven.
   Up to the time of the September 1876 general meeting all had gone well. In the year to
that date 238 fathoms of stopes had yielded over 500 tons of dressed galena, which had
realised from £14.25 to a little over £15 per ton, and a dividend of 7!% could be declared
out of the company’s own profits.
   Soon after then, however, things began to go wrong. The 22 failed to encounter any
payable ground at all, although there seems to have been a good deal of blende in the 22
west. However, both Kitto and the board retained their faith in the mine. In December they
started a new shaft, later called Tippetts’ (Mr. J.B. Tippetts being chairman of the
company), to come down near the end of the adit, and in March 1877 they resumed the
sinking of the engine-shaft. The former reached the adit in July, and the latter the 46 in
September. The adit could now be extended east, and the 46 driven underneath the splendid
ore found in the 10, Kitto taking the view that the 22 lay in a ‘poor floor of ground’, and
that at greater depth the lode would again become productive.
   To pay for this work the directors wanted to create 2,000 new shares of £3. But this
measure did not meet with shareholder support, and instead some funds were provided by
issuing 270 £10 debentures, bearing interest at 12!% per annum.
   Unfortunately more than £500 had been lost by the failure of the Burry Port Smelting Co.
in March 1877, and matters were made even worse by the serious fall in the price of lead
from the middle of that year, their dressed galena realising less that £10 a ton in May 1878.
   Exploration in the 46 east, and from a winze sunk from the 22 to the former, while it
exposed at times a lode worth 2 tons per fathom, did not find any worthwhile extent of
payable lode, but the directors, and Kitto, still had faith in the mine, and persevered. To do
so they had to reform the company, at the end of 1879, as New Wye Valley, the
reconstruction reducing the face value of existing holders shares, but providing a nominal
£10,500 of new capital to be issued. At this date about eighty persons were employed.
   Kitto felt that the most promising part of the mine lay midway between the engine-shaft
and Tippetts’, under where the adit and 10 had been so productive. But this ground could
not be advantageously reached from engine-shaft, because of the length of time, and the
cost, required, to drive that distance. A new shaft was therefore started from surface in this
position early in 1880 and, by means of working also from the intermediate levels, it
reached the 46 in July, and after the construction of a new water-wheel, and the installation
of pumps and a skip-road, sinking below that level began in December.
   The shaft reached the 58 in April 1881. This level too failed to find payable ore ground,
but in spite of this disappointment and ever falling lead prices they struggled on into 1882.
Newsletter 58                      Welsh Mines Society
   Notice of registration of The Wye Mine (Ltd) appeared in April 1883, with a capital of
£21,886 in £1 shares, and several of the same subscribers. This company pumped the mine
out, sank to the 70 fathom level and explored the lode to the east, but again without finding
ore ground that would pay, at least, not at the prices then ruling.
   According to my reckoning, West Nanty sold 260 tons of galena and 27 tons of blende in
1865–66, and Wye Valley 1,605 tons PbS and 518 tons of blende between 1874 and 1884.
   There seems to have been a great deal of blende in Wye Valley, but at the low prices then
ruling, in January 1878 only £1 per ton, it was hardly worth the raising and carriage.
   Kitto also pointed out a peculiar difficulty at the Wye Valley mines, not shared by the
other lead mines he managed in mid-Wales. That was the great width of the lode, 60 or 70
feet in places. Generally, he remarked, both walls of a lode would be carried in a level, and
therefore ore could not be missed. But at Wye Valley one did not know what lay to the
right or left of an end, and it was simply impractical to cross-cut the whole width as
frequently as might be ideal. What a pity that light core-drills were not then available.
   Across the river, the Wye Lead Mining Company, in 400 shares of £20, payable by £5
instalments, began work at Dol in October 1868. Captain John Paull started a new
perpendicular shaft, called Murchison’s, and continued the old adit westward. While these
works were progressing the usual store-room and stable with an office over and adjoining
smithy, and a small house for the resident captain, were constructed, a leat made from the
Cyff brook, and a 40-ft. water-wheel built. This last was finished in May 1869, and a
hauling machine attached to it.
   The 14 fathom level was started in November 1869, and the 26 in November 1870, but
none of the exploration carried out found enough ore to justify the construction of a
dressing floor. Nevertheless, the company decided to persevere – no doubt the spectacular
rise of the Van mine provided encouragement – and agreed in December 1870 to increase
the capital by the creation of another 200 shares of £20.
   Of these only 93 had been allotted, and £15 per share called up, by December 1871. By
then Murchison’s shaft had been sunk to the 40, but the 40 cross-cut had no more than cut a
few feet into the lode before the company went into liquidation, without making any sales.
   In March 1872 the prospectus of New Van Mining Company (Limited), with a nominal
capital of £30,000 in 12,000 shares of £2.50, appeared in the Mining Journal. The
directors, Joseph John Pyne, of Manchester, Major Jelf Sharp, of Twickenham, and
J.H. Murchison, had all been on the board of the previous company. According to this
prospectus the 14 fathom level had been driven 60 fathoms on a lode averaging 4! fathoms
wide, and the 26 for 23 fathoms. The old company had agreed to transfer the mine and
property for 8,000 fully paid-up shares.
   In spite of the fashionable name this promotion did not tempt investors, and at the
statutory meeting in June 1872 Mr. Pyne had to admit that the number of shares which the
directors thought necessary to open the mine had not been applied for. He said they were
still in communication with various parties, but New Van made no further appearance in
the MJ.
   The rich, if ephemeral, discoveries at Wye Valley, however, made this mine once more
attractive to speculators, and in October 1875 the registration of the West Wye Valley Lead
Mining Company (Limited), with a nominal capital of £36,000 in £3 shares appeared in the
MJ. The promoters, as at Wye Valley, were Halford & Co. The available shares were
quickly subscribed for, but once again the vendors and promoters looked after themselves
first, taking £25,000 of the capital, mostly in shares. This, and expenses of formation,
£2,972, seem large for a property that might have been acquired not long before for a few
                                           – 10 –
                                   Welsh Mines Society                          Spring 2008
hundred pounds. They did, however, guarantee 10% interest for two years.
   The previous water-wheel must have been still on site, and in reasonable order, as Kitto
soon had the old engine-shaft (previously Murchison’s) drained. The 14 east, restarted,
immediately came into ore, a new shaft, Brookes’s, about midway between the old shaft
and the river, was begun, and an adit driven into it. The company erected a new 25-ft.
wheel for pumping and hauling from Brookes’s, with a saw-mill attached, constructed
workmen’s houses, apparently of wood, capable of accommodating 32 men, and made a
reservoir on the Cyff brook. They sank Brookes’s shaft actively, and communicated the 26
east from, the old shaft to it in January 1877. Brookes’s shaft was then again deepened,
since Kitto thought the ground east towards Wye Valley the most promising, reaching the
40 in June 1877, the 52 in February 1878, and the 64 in July 1879. The richest ore found in
the mine, worth in places 4 tons per fathom, occurred in and near Brookes’s shaft at the 40,
but here, as at Wye Valley, the good values were not sufficiently extensive for the mine to
   Dressing floors were built, a new 30-ft. crusher-wheel erected, and dressing began in late
1877. The first sale of dressed galena, made on December 31st, realised £12 per ton, but
others in March, April, and May 1878 at £10.87!, £10.52!, and £9.87! showed the fall in
lead prices. The dry summer of 1878 then put a stop to production, the reservoir built on
the Cyff not being large enough to keep the mine going for long, and the Wye Valley mine
having the use of the river. When rain allowed sales to resume in September the price had
declined further, and it sank to £7.77! in June 1879.
   Funds were now getting low, and in December 1878 the board asked for subscriptions for
300 debenture shares of £10, which were eventually obtained, although with difficulty.
This enabled Brookes’s shaft to be sunk to the 64, but this level did not encounter ground
rich enough to be worked. What could be profitably stoped with dressed galena realising
£12 per ton, would not pay at £8, and operations came to an end in 1880.
   The lode here was apparently not quite so wide as at Wye Valley, but it still gave the
same problems in exploration. It seems to have contained less blende; at any rate, they did
not sell any. It did, however, carry some copper ore, about 10 tons of which were sold in
1881, a small addition to the 360 tons of galena that had been produced.     George W. Hall

                            Mines on the Hafod Estate
13. Certainly from 1832, and perhaps earlier, until 1855, and again from about 1870 to
1938, the successive owners of the Hafod Estate would not allow mining within sight of the
mansion. That is, roughly, an area from the bridge at Pontrhydygroes on the west almost to
Cwmystwyth village on the east, up to the public road between those villages on the north,
and as far as the skyline to the south. The entire Estate in those days included a much larger
  However, in 1855 William Chambers, of Llanelly House, bought the Estate, and he both
granted mining leases, and did some prospecting on his own account, before he became
bankrupt in about 1870. Most of the existing workings appear to date from this period, but
there is a lode marked on the old one-inch geological map, running more or less parallel
with the Ystwyth for half a mile, crossing the Nant Gau just before it joins the Ystwyth.
There is still a shaft to be seen on this lode at SN 774 735. The geological information is
dated April 1848, and work here probably pre-dates 1830.
  Most of the trials on this central part of the Hafod Estate have been made close to the
                                            – 11 –
Newsletter 58                      Welsh Mines Society
Nant-ffun, called the boundary brook, although it was apparently only the boundary
between the Hafod and Lisburne Estates above Pant-y-ffynnon, Hafod land extending
further west below that place. Trials might well be expected, owing to the proximity of
Logaulas mine, and the possibility of finding extensions of the Pen-y-gyst, Glog-fach, and
Glog-fawr lodes. Plans held at the National Library of Wales, dating from the 1860s, show
with what care the bed of the brook was examined, and there are numerous trials and short
adits in both banks up as far up as Pant-y-ffynnon. According to a report I have seen, a nice
rib of galena could be seen a few years ago in a shaft on the west bank.
   The largest extent of underground workings is immediately below Ty-coch, with another
group a little over a mile to the east, in the banks of the Nant Gau. At Ty-coch there is a
shallow adit (SN 755 725), connected to a shaft on a lode outcrop just below the house.
About 270 yards further down the brook is a deep adit, which did not reach the lode. Plans
and the manuscript setting and cost books preserved in the National Library of Wales show
that these workings were called Bwlchranos Mine in the early 1860s, and South Hafod in
the late 1860s. My interpretation of the entries in these notebooks (but I have not studied
them in detail) is that the shallow adit at Ty-coch was started in March 1859. Nothing
seems to have been done in 1860, but in 1861 and 62 this level was extended, driven east
and west on lode, and the shaft sunk. Some work was also done at the time at Francis’s
level, New Adit, Flowerdew’s Cross-cut, and the Nant y Cai level.
   Work restarted as South Hafod in March 1866 and, besides Ty-coch, where the deep adit
was begun in February 1867, the No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 levels (the last east from Nantfeen
Brook), Francis’s Level, Nant-y-Cai deep level were driven, and Wood Shaft sunk. Not all
these workings are marked on the plans that I have seen, and I have not been able to place
all of them on the ground, but the Wood Shaft is at 785 728.
   A couple of hundred yards south-south-east of Ty-coch there is a shaft (marked as Old
Level on the 2nd edition six-inch), called Francis’s Shaft on those of the Hafod plans that
show it.
   Entries in these manuscript notebooks show that some lead was sold from both Ty-coch
and Nant-y-Cai.
   The workings of the Nant y Cai (or Cae) mine are about 1! miles east-north-east of Ty
coch, on the west bank of the Nant Gau (SN 774 729), where there are two adits and a little
shaft. Flowerdew’s Cross-cut is about 300 yards due west.
   The Level Lampwll, a few yards higher up the brook, is not a mining work, but was
apparently driven to allow a spectacular view of an otherwise almost inaccessible waterfall.
   Just south of the sharp bend of the Ystwyth, at about SN 7675 7295 is the site of
Chambers’ Cross-cut, presumably driven by that gentleman. It’s mouth seems now to be
hidden by erosion and undergrowth, but a note in a brief report I have from 1940 gives its
length as only 30 yards.
   A connection between the Francises and Hafod is born out by a few reports which
appeared in the Mining Journal in 1856, 57, and 62. They are not at all clear, but one in
1857 dated July 11th, signed ‘M.F.’, under New Lisburne Mine, says ‘We have opened
along a shallow adit in this mine a good course of ore for about 24 fathoms long; 30
fathoms further east, by opening a pond for dressing, we have discovered the back of this
lode to be full of gossan and lead to surface. We are now bringing in a stream of water, and
preparing to dress the ore already raised.’ This ties in with the production of 6 tons from
New Lisburne recorded in the Mineral Statistics of the same year.
   The next paragraph to the one just referred to runs: ‘A New Mine. We commenced to
sink a shaft on the Lisburne Mines lode, Logylas, in the Hafod ground, on Tuesday ... This
                                           – 12 –
                                    Welsh Mines Society                          Spring 2008
mine is situate to the east of the Nant y fin or boundary brook … M.F.’ This I suspect to be
Francis’s shaft, referred to above.
   These simple explanations are, however, confused by other reports signed by Matthew or
Absalom, under Nantffeen (1856, pp. 271, 307, 377, and 413), and New Logylas (1856,
p. 861). The former refer to a discovery of a vein of ore 10 inches wide in a cliff 30
fathoms height, near a waterfall, which might, allowing for some exaggeration, be below
Ty-coch, or it could be at Nant-y-Cai. I am inclined to think that the Francises’ New
Logylas, Nantffeen, and New Lisburne were one and the same mine, namely the workings
near Ty coch, west of the brook. However, there is another New Lisburne – see below.
   I have found one further entry, in the 1862 MJ, which I came across by chance, as it was
included in a report on another mine. Matthew said: ‘During my inspection of the mines in
Cardiganshire under my charge I have this visit had the satisfaction of seeing a similar lode
at Pantyfywyn, or New Lisburne, terminate in a rich discovery of lead ore.’ But where is
Pantyfywyn? Could it be Pant-y-ffynnon, which is on the Nant Ffin above Ty-coch?
   Unfortunately all the above trials, New Lisburne, New Logylas, Nantffeen, Bwlchranos,
and South Hafod, escaped the attention of Robert Hunt, except that in 1859, the first year in
which he included a List of Mines, there is ‘New Lisburne: Abandoned.’
   There are offers for sale of a New Lisburne mine in the MJ in 1870 and 1876, but I am
inclined to think that these refer to the mine at Pant-y-gwaith, where the mineral rights
seem to have been privately owned, neither Lisburne nor Hafod. I think that the level here
may have been the deep adit to East Logaulas before the Level Fawr was driven.
   Immediately east of the bridge over the Ystwyth at Pontrhydygroes is an old mine, tried
in 1856–57 under the name of Pontystwith. In 1856 Matthew Francis reported sinking a
shaft to a 10 fathom level, in which two or three lodes were slightly explored, but in March
1857 the men were driven out by water. The company, if there was one, could not
command the capital to buy the wheel and pumps then for sale at East Frongoch, and the
trial had to be abandoned.
   There are older workings here on the north bank, some hidden by more recent buildings.
   In November 1861 the prospectus of the Hafod Lead Mining Company (Limited)
appeared in the Mining Journal. This company was very much more substantial than any of
those noticed above. It had eminent directors, and a nominal capital of £50,000 in 10,000
shares of £5, the first issue to be of 600 shares. Their prime objective seems to have been
the Pontystwith Mine, but all the mineral rights of the Estate north of the river, 2,050 acres,
had been acquired, apparently from the Francises, for £1,000 in cash and 800 paid-up
   No material report of the company’s activities appeared until a brief account of a meeting
held in February 1863. At this the accounts for fifteen months showed an expenditure of
£1,204–7–7 on the mine, for no returns. Capital raised amounted to £7,474, against which
£5,780 had been paid for the leases [!], and £342–9–8 for plant and machinery.
   Shortly after (p. 219) an anxious investor enquired of the Mining Journal whether the
company was in respectable hands. The reply was there was little doubt of the
respectability of the company with the directors they had: “Mr. Leigh is a merchant of
some eminence, he was for many years connected with the great Spanish house of Zulueta
& Co, and is a director of several large companies. Major Williams is the son of Mr. B.B.
Williams, of the Stock Exchange, and is a director of several companies. Mr. Tilston is a
director of the General Rolling Stock Company, the Aberdare Coal Company, and others.
Mr. Cottingham is a barrister, and commercially engaged. Mr Pearson, through his
bankruptcy, is no longer a director, but, until he got run into ‘running the blockade’ [this
                                            – 13 –
Newsletter 58                      Welsh Mines Society
was during the American Civil War], he was the largest steam-shipowner in England. The
affairs of the company have been most carefully looked after, though there is reason to fear
that their late engineer led the directors to expect certain results in which they were
  Of which mines promoted by the Francises might this not have been said?
  Another bad example was the North Hafod Silver-Lead Mining Company (Limited), with
a nominal capital £12,000 in £2 shares. This prospectus appeared in the MJ in April 1861,
with Thomas Spargo of Gresham House, Old Broad Street, as secretary, and Matthew
Francis consulting engineer. No 19th century mid-Wales company occupied so many
column-inches of the MJ with so many wild and exaggerated claims, and irrelevant
nonsense. In spite of this tremendous effort of propaganda it does not appear that many
shares were sold to the general public, and all that the company accomplished was to clear
out an ancient adit, and sink a small shaft a few fathoms, with the aid of a 12 ft. by 15 in.
water-wheel. Even then they left their agent and poor workmen unpaid. The reports suggest
that these trials were near Aber Bodcoll, about one mile south-east of Devil’s Bridge, by
the road to the Hafod Arch, but I have been unable to find any remains.
  At the eastern edge of the estate, near to Cwmystwyth village, through the 1860s W.
Spooner & Co., a private company, drove an adit they called East Hafod north from the
bank of the Ystwyth (SN 782 740), in the hope of finding valuable extensions of the
Cwmystwyth lodes. Little information on this exploration appeared, though Francis said
they had some good ore at one point, but could not follow it below adit as they had no
means of pumping. In 1871 an offer for sale stated that the level had been driven for 340
  Whether the old Hafod Estate, something like two miles across from east to west,
between the Cwmystwyth and Logaulas Mines, contains valuable ore bodies, as is possible
in view of the limited amount of prospecting that has been done, is an open question.
However, Mr. Nancarrow told me that during the depression years in the 1920s and 30s one
old miner he knew used to disappear from time to time into the woods on Hafod, and
emerge with a sack of galena, which sacks he accumulated until he had enough to sell.
Nancarrow could never discover where the lead came from, but I do not disbelieve the
story. So perhaps there is still a rich vein there somewhere, waiting to be rediscovered!
                                                                               George W. Hall

14. Merfyn Williams The industrial historian, environmentalist, lecturer and author
Merfyn Williams died suddenly at the early age of 58 last December. Merfyn will be
familiar to many WMS members as the author of The Slate Industry and co-author, with
Michael Lewis, of Pioneers of Ffestiniog Slate and Gwydir Slate Quarries and, with
Dafydd Gwyn, of A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of North West Wales. His most
recent work, as yet unpublished, was a history of the Oakeley family (the quarry owners) of
Plas Tan y Bwlch. Merfyn had a varied career as schoolteacher, lecturer and one-time
principal of the Snowdonia National Park Study Centre at Plas Tan y Bwlch, and as a
lecturer at Bangor Normal College. He was the director of CPRW from 1993 to 2003,
chairman of the Portmeirion Foundation and co-founder and chairman of Menter
Llanfrothen.                                                                   Dave Linton

                                           – 14 –
                                   Welsh Mines Society                          Spring 2008
15. Talybont Deep Adit Roy Fellows reports that there has been a collapse in this mine,
apparently due to the earthquake on 27th February. The earthquake, which was not even felt
at Talybont, has caused part of the floor of Roy’s timbered roadway to collapse into the
backfilled understope below. Part of the hanging wall has cracked and holes to water have
appeared in the floor. Oddly, although several of Roy’s upright timbers on the hanging side
had fallen, the roof timbers have not moved, so the roadway is still clear. Roy’s opinion is
that a downward slide has pinched the cross pieces in firmly. As the road remained clear
apart from fallen timber and a small amount of rock, anyone who had been beyond when
the incident happened would still have been able to get out without problem.
  Until it has been reinforced with steel and the crack grouted with polyurathene the
roadway has to be considered extremely unsafe. It will need to be assessed over a period of
time with something in place to monitor and measure any movement. Currently, therefore,
all work forward has ceased. Roy is concerned that the backfill which constitutes the floor
could be resting on a timber stull far below in the flooded workings below deep adit, and
could be ready to collapse further. However, timber that is permanently submerged is
usually well preserved, so he considers this possibility to be unlikely.
  The far reaches of Roy’s dig project pass through a faulted and broken area – in one
section he had to concrete his packwalls. Roy inspected this on Sunday after some remedial
work on the roadway and found it unaffected. Roy and others have been pushing a roadway
through collapsed ground for the last two and a half years with the objective of reaching the
workings to the west in the vicinity of the western engine shaft so that more about this
interesting mine can be learned. The total distance is about 140 feet, much of it at a
stooping walking height. It will be most unfortunate if this collapse brings the project to an
  Access to the deep adit by way of Roy’s ladder shaft at the bottom of the air shaft
remains unaffected, so visits to view the horse gin and pumping arrangements are still
possible, but he would like anyone wishing to do this to contact him first. The water level is
currently no more than waist deep on the way to the gin chamber, but outbye towards the
buried portal remains sumped out.                                                Roy Fellows
16. Cwmsymlog The work on the interpretive boards and repairs to the chimney have
been completed and the only task outstanding is to remove the old fence that is now
superfluous to requirements. Two lightning conductors have been fitted and the doorway
fitted with a gavanised grille. I am indebted to Trefeurig Community Council, CADW and
Ceredigion County Council’s “Ysbryd y Mwynwyr” fund for their effort in bringing this
project to fruition. The next project I would like to commence in 2008 is to get Pryse’s
Shaft into a better condition, with a grille to replace the fence and to expose the whole of
the dovetailed bob pit on the western side. The Capstan Pit can just about be seen on the
eastern side but it is doubtful that it is in such good condition as the example at Skinner’s
Shaft.                                                                     Simon R.S. Hughes
17. McAlpine Alfred McAlpine has sold its north Wales quarrying operation to Rigcycle,
a company linked to the Belfast construction group Lagan, for £31m. It is reported that the
300 workers at the Penrhyn, Blaenau Ffestiniog (Oakeley), Cwt-y-Bugail (Manod) and
Pen-yr-Orsedd quarries will transfer to the new owners.
                                                  BBC Wales website 24th December 2007
18. Metal Mine Strategy for Wales As part of this continuing project Enviros
Consulting (a contractor working for the Environment Agency Wales) have undertaken a
                                            – 15 –
Newsletter 58                       Welsh Mines Society
“Scoping Study of Metal Mine Impacts” on the Afon Clywedog catchment upstream of
Bersham and on the Afon Conwy between Nant Gwydyr and the Afon Crafnant. The first
mentioned area includes mines such as Minera and its Deep Day Level and Park Day Level
drainage adits and the second area includes most of the mines detailed in Bennett and
Vernon’s The Mines of the Gwydyr Forest. According to Enviros the scoping study will
consider if further assessment or monitoring is required to ensure water quality remains
suitable for the aquatic life and to maintain the habitats of the recipient streams and rivers.
  Following production of their reports Enviros and the Environment Agency mounted
small-scale public exhibitions at Coedpoeth (24th January) and Llanrwst (25th January) to
present the results of the study – mostly in the form of annotated maps (the reports
themselves were not made available). WMS and WMPT member Tony King attended both
exhibitions and I attended the Llanrwst one. According to Tony the Coedpoeth meeting
was reasonably well attended with a contingent of members from the North Wales Caving
Club. The Llanrwst meeting was less well attended with representatives of the official
bodies involved considerably out-numbering other interested parties.
  Tony and, I understand, others have expressed concerns about past reports made by
members of the mining history and caving communities about pollution concerns which
have been passed to official bodies and then apparently ignored. Tony also had reservations
about the accuracy of the information presented by Enviros at the meetings.         Dave Linton
19. North Wales Regional Aggregate Working Party The NWRAWP is a technical
working group with membership drawn from the various north Wales Mineral Planning
Authorities, representatives of commercial quarrying associations, the British Geological
Survey and various governmental bodies such as the Environment Agency Wales and
Countryside Council for Wales.
  The NWRAWP’s draft regional technical statement covering geology, resources and use
of waste (with particular emphasis on slate waste) as alternatives is now available on the
web at nwrawp-wales.org.uk.                                               Peter Claughton
20. Gresford Colliery A permanent home is being sought to preserve headgear sheave
wheels from the former Gresford Colliery. After the mine closed in 1973, the headgear and
other components were stored at a privately owned site at Bwlchgwyn. The wheels have
been acquired by Wrexham Museum Service who are now looking for a permanent site so
that they can go on show to the public.           BBC Wales website 22nd November 2007
21. Glasdir Mine Timber harvesting continues at Glasdir (see NL 57 item 31) and notice
has been given that the footpaths around the mill site are to remain closed for another six
months. The new date for the closure order to to end is 21st September 2008. However, as
of the time of writing (March) most of the footpaths appear to be open and the clear-felled
areas now allow much of the site to be more easily appreciated.                Dave Linton
22. Bryngwyn Quarry, Gwernymynydd The possible reopening of this quarry within
the Clwydian Range AONB is the subject of a public inquiry. Planning permission was
granted after World War II under a 1947 planning order which is still current. The quarry
was worked during the 1950s but production had ended by the 1970s and the former Clwyd
County Council declared the site dormant. Its owners DP Williams (Holdings) Ltd, who
have owned the quarry since 1994, were served with a prohibition order by Flintshire
Council last August to ensure the site stayed closed; however the company has made an
objection to the Welsh Assembly Government.
  Local residents opposed to the quarry reopening claim up to 750,000 tonnes per annum
                                            – 16 –
                                   Welsh Mines Society                         Spring 2008
would be extracted and this would have impacts on the local environment, wildlife and the
local tourism industry.
  The inquiry, which started in February, was adjourned when it ran out of time and should
reconvene at the end of April. It is being run by Planning Inspectorate Wales on behalf of
the Welsh Assembly Government, which will make the final judgement.
                                                            Evening Leader 4th March 2008
23. Cwmorthin (NL 54 item 26) A ‘working weekend’ was held at Cwmorthin slate
mine, near Blaenau Ffestiniog over the Easter bank holiday weekend, organised by Friends
of Cwmorthin and attended by about 20 people, several of whom had travelled from as far
afield as Wiltshire.
   During a previous weekend
in January another two
support beams were replaced
in the lake-level adit which
had partially collapsed in
November 2005. A total of
eight beams, those in worst
condition, have now been
replaced and further work is
planned to replace a number
of other cracked timbers.
   The task has involved the
removal of rotten or cracked
beams,      which     required
temporary       support     for
surrounding areas to take the
weight of the tip above. The
new beams have been
hydraulically jacked up into
position, where possible
raising the headroom back to
its 1970s levels to ensure
easier access; in some cases,
beams had sagged up to 12
inches below their original
level. (See ‘before and after’
photos right.)
   The weekend also included
repairs to the rotten timber
stairway in the Back Vein
Chamber 1 West, where more
than 26 new slate steps were
installed to replace rotten
timbers. The slabs were
recovered from the mill waste tips and cut to size and shape before installation. (See photo
page 1.) The stairway was used as an access to lower floors which bypassed the busy Back
Vein Incline; it descends from lake level (Floor 1) to Floor B, some 93 feet below. Whilst

                                           – 17 –
Newsletter 58                      Welsh Mines Society
passage up the incline is no longer as dangerous as it was when it was in use for haulage,
the new steps provide an easier way back up from lower levels.
  Future work will focus on continued repairs to the main adit, the Floor 2 South adit (the
‘Smoke Flue’) and a number of other tasks intended to stabilise the mine and ensure that it
remains safely accessible for years to come.
  Further details about the mine can be found at Friends of Cwmorthin’s website
www.cwmorthin.co.uk and at other websites such as www.aditnow.co.uk          Dafydd Jones
24. Ffos-y-Fran opencast site Preparation work to open this site was stopped after
protesters, some dressed as polar bears and clowns, ‘occupied’ two excavators. The
protestors were questioned by police as they left the site, although no arrests were made.
Ffos-y-Fran is intended to become one of Europe’s biggest opencast sites, mining 10m
tonnes of coal over 17 years. Developer Miller Argent (South Wales) initially received
planning permission following a public inquiry, but this was overruled by the High Court.
The Welsh Assembly Government, which backed Ffos-y-Fran, won the right to appeal and
a Court of Appeal judge allowed it to go ahead. Miller Argent has said the site will reclaim
derelict land and bring benefits to the area. But local people claim the site is just 36m away
from some houses, raising concerns over noise and dust.
                                                      BBC Wales website 5th December 2007
25. Heol Gerrig A 20m diameter 10m deep hole has opened up on former coal mining
land at Heol Gerrig in Merthyr Tydfil after heavy rainfall. Coal Authority officials have
commenced investigations to discover the extent of the collapse. The area is popular with
walkers, and contractors have erected fencing in an attempt to stop people gaining access to
it. Work has been started to make the collapse secure and it is thought that the hole and
surrounding land will need to be filled in order to stabilise it. The long term future of the
site is under discussion.                             BBC Wales website 13th January 2008
[As is the case with many news stories of this nature, following the original report by the
BBC everything goes quiet and we are left unaware of the eventual outcome. If anyone can
report on what has transpired at this site please could they let the Editor know. – Ed.]
26. Tower Colliery Tower Colliery at Hirwaun, the last deep coal mine in Wales, closed
on Friday 25th January with the loss of around 300 jobs – although some of the workforce
are expected to find work in the newly re-opened drift mines at Unity Colliery at
Cwmgwrach and Aberpergwm Colliery (see NL 56 items 31 and 32). The closure is
reported to be due to the end of economically winable coal reserves. The colliery was
established in 1864 and closed shortly before privatisation of British Coal in 1994. It
reopened in 1995, when it was bought out by the management and men who worked the
colliery prior to de-nationalisation. A history of the colliery can be found on its web site
www1c.btwebworld.com/tower-coal/tmenu.html and there is more information on the
Collieries of Wales section of the Miner’s Advice website www.minersadvice.co.uk/
                                                                               Dave Linton
27. New caving equipment shop WMS member Miles Moulding has a new venture in
the shape of an on-line caving equipment shop at www.caving-gear.co.uk. At present he
seems to be concentrating on hi-tech lighting systems (LED caplamps and torches, Li-ion
batteries and chargers and the like) but other equipment is available as well and he says he
intends to increase his product range over time.                                Dave Linton
[Your editor has no connection with this venture other than the fact that he appears in the
                                            – 18 –
                                    Welsh Mines Society                          Spring 2008
picture (second from left on top of the bridge) on the front page of the website! – Ed.]

              Reviews, references and publications received
28. Mines of the Gwydyr Forest Mike Moore has obtained all the remaining stock of
Mines of the Gwydyr Forest Volumes 2–7 and can also supply an authorised copy (as a
PDF file) of volume 1.
29. Welsh Mines Preservation Trust Newsletter 29 This contains an account of the
events leading up to the recent (now resolved) problems with the Bryngwyn Engine House
(Laurence Hale), a report on the Martha wheelpit clearance and other work at Dylife
(Michael Brown), a discussion on the extraction of silver from the lead produced by the
mid-Wales mines (Simon Hughes), reports on archaeological excavations of the Nant-y-
Onen stamp mill site, Twll y Mywyn and Ergloddn (Simon Timberlake). There are also
reports on Trust working weekends at Temple Mine, Bronfloyd and Pont Ceunant, the 2007
‘Spirit of the Miners’ Heritage bank holiday weekend event and the WMPT/Ffestiniog
Railway Heritage Group ‘exchange’ weekend at Boston Lodge and Catherine and Jane
Consols mine.
30. Treatment of Disused Lead Mine Shafts: A Guide to Good Practice This is a report
prepared by consultants Entec UK Ltd for Derbyshire County Council, Peak District
National Park Authority, Natural England, English Heritage and Derbyshire Caving
Association. It deals with the various methods of safeguarding the public from the dangers
of open shafts and includes considerations of maintaining access to shafts for bats (and
mining historians). It is pleasing to note that the report recommends that human access to
shafts be maintained and that the filling of shafts should only be considered as the method
of last resort. The information is presented under the headings of Roles and
Responsibilities, Environmental Issues, Treatment Methods, Selection of Treatment
Methods and Installation Guidelines. There are a number of Appendixes including two
devoted to archaeological and legal issues. Although the report is intended primarily for
those responsible for shafts in the Derbyshire lead-mining area, it could well be a useful
resource when dealing with other local authorities or government agencies.
  Treatment of Disused Lead Mine Shafts: A Guide to Good Practice, 56pp. Derbyshire
County Council, Peak District National Park Authority, Natural England, English Heritage
and Derbyshire Caving Association, 2007. Available from Peter Storey, Derbyshire County
Council, Consultancy and Contracting Division, Land Reclamation Section, Station Road,
Darley Dale, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 2EQ, 01629 580000, or the complete document can
be downloaded from www.derbyshire.gov.uk/environment/land_premises/mines
31. Websites The two major mine exploration websites, AditNow (www.aditnow.co.uk)
and Mine-Explorer (www.mine-explorer.co.uk) appear to be going from strength to
strength. It is particularly interesting how the two sites, both of which were started about
the same time and which initially had a considerable overlap in their content, have started
to differentiate themselves. AditNow appears to be moving towards a forum for discussion
of historical mining topics. Recent topics have included discussions about Hunter and other
boring machines, the detailed layout of some of the less-accessible floors in Cwmorthin,
roof features in Croesor Quarry and other similar items. Mine-Explorer tends more towards
discussion and reports of underground trips, access issues, photography and equipment
(particularly lighting). Both sites offer excellent sets of both historical and contemporary
                                            – 19 –
Newsletter 58                      Welsh Mines Society
photographs of mining remains. Although both sites were started by enthusiasts living in
north Wales, the user-contributed content now covers most of the mining districts of the
UK.                                                                        Dave Linton

Members are invited to use the Correspondence section of the Newsletter to reply to
32. Dinas Ddu Slate Quarry Diane Barton is looking for information about this quarry.
She believes it was jointly owned by the late Daniel Evans (who died in 1988) and his
sister Alice of Dinas Ddu Farm, Nantmor, and that the quarry went into Bankruptcy around
22nd March 1948 in favour of Lloyds Bank.
  Diane is looking for old maps or references to the extent of the workings, or anyone who
has knowledge of this quarry, stone from which was used to build the chapel in Nantmor
and some houses there.                             Diane Barton barton113@btinternet.com
33. Dinorwig Quarry ropeway
David Sallery has drawn my
attention to this structure at
SH 600 615 which he says
appears to be the head end of a
ropeway. The location is above
the tarmac road that leads to the
power station surge shaft. David
says that the brake wheel and
band brake at the bottom of the
axle are intact but there is no sign
of any intermediate towers or a
lower terminus and he thinks the
bottom of the ropeway may have
been in what is now a partly
landscaped area. Do any members
have additional information about this ropeway as to its purpose or when it was used?
Another question is whether it actually was an aerial ropeway (which I would consider to
involve a continuous rope with a number of buckets on it) or a balanced ‘chain’ incline
(which would have a pair of carriages, each running on inclined chain or cable, with a rope
around the sheave wheel at the top end between them). Looking at the masonry structure
behind the wheel housing it’s possible that this could have supported the suspension cables
of a chain incline and consequently think it more likely that it was an incline rather than a
   In connection with this photograph, I would commend David’s website
www.penmorfa.com to WMS members. It has some excellent photographs including some
of the Penmaenmawr Granite Quarries which I’ve not seen elsewhere on the web, as well
as an outstanding presentation of photographs of the Dinorwig quarries.          Dave Linton
34. Oakeley Gold In the first edition of his The Gold Mines of Merioneth, George Hall,
in connection with the “gold excitement” of 1853–54, mentions “pyretic lodes which are to
                                           – 20 –
                                    Welsh Mines Society                          Spring 2008
be seen among the slate quarries of Blaenau Ffestiniog, principally the Oakeley and
Newborough or Offeren Mines”. Looking at George’s copies of the Mining Journal I found
a series of reports for 1854 of work in the “Oakeley Mine, Merioneth”. Initially (8th April)
it was reported that gold assays averaging over 2oz/ton had been made from trial pits on the
load and that a shaft was being sunk with an adit being driven to meet it in a lode of hard
quartz. Further reports were published on 15th, 22nd and 29th April, 6th May and 10th June,
all of which have the usual comments about good prospects, followed by a sudden silence.
   Two reports are particularly interesting. That of the 22nd April states “In sinking No 3 pit
we have come upon a chamber of large dimensions, which appears to be old Roman work;
and on clearing to the bottom, about two fathoms deep, we have turned up some old timber,
nails, and stores, carefully kept, which proves that they have been worked for gold, as no
other ores are visible in the work but gold stones at the bottom and sides.” The final report
of the series published 10th June states “Clay’s shaft is now down 7 fathoms on the course
of the lode, and continues to look very promising; we are carrying it 5 to 6 feet wide, but
cannot report the width of the lode, as we have not yet cut the hanging wall; it is composed
of quartz, mundic, spots of copper, a little killas intermixed, and in the quartz there are
specs of gold visible. We are preparing stone for the building, and to-morrow shall
commence the foundation.”
   Assuming that no further reports were published (I am relying on George’s index to the
Mining Journal rather than exhaustive searches of it), what happened next? Was “the
building” ever erected and, if so, where? In fact, where was this enterprise with trial pits,
shaft and adit located? Was it in the Oakeley Quarry itself or somewhere else on Oakeley
land? The reports are credited to R. Roberts, who presumably was either Rees Roberts or
Robert Roberts, both of whom are listed as mine agents at Oakeley (and elsewhere) in the
Home Office list of mines in the late nineteenth century. If anyone can shed further light on
this matter I would be very interested to hear of it.                              Dave Linton

35. Ancient Adits in Ceredigion (NL 57 item 13) Discussing adits 3 feet high and 18
inches wide, George Hall comments that “even those who enjoy being underground must
surely find so tiny a hole claustrophobic. And if one can cope mentally with such
constriction, how do you turn round, and how is the tunnelling done?” My nearest
experience to this is the 500m entrance crawl of Ogof Daren Cilau on the Llangattock
Escarpment in south Wales. At no point in this crawl is it much higher than to permit
progress on hands and knees, and in places it involves flat-out crawling. (This was in the
1970s before the traffic associated with the major discoveries there significantly eased
passage through the entrance series.) However, being sufficiently determined to get to the
end, claustrophobia did not seem to be a problem. For someone who was working in an adit
every day, and familiar with every inch of it from repeated passage along it, I think it
unlikely that claustrophobia would have been an issue. Although the 170 fathom (311m)
length of the adit sounds daunting, it’s worth mentioning that during the construction
period the average distance to the face would have been half of that i.e. 155m. Also,
assuming the same workers were involved in the whole project, they would have plenty of
opportunity to become accustomed to the situation as the adit slowly lengthened.
  I would imagine that the miner would kneel, squat or sit cross-legged at the face,
working with hammer and chisel, and pass the broken rock behind him onto a sledge.
                                            – 21 –
Newsletter 58                       Welsh Mines Society
Turning round in such a space is relatively easy. From a kneeling position it is necessary to
get one’s legs out in front, lie down on one’s back and then roll over and get up onto hands
and knees. (It’s probably easier to actually do this than it is to explain in words.) If anyone
wants to try this the adit cross-section can be simulated by placing two dining chairs back-
to-back 18 inches apart and placing a board across the tops of the chair backs.
   As far as removing the spoil is concerned, I assume a small sledge would have been used,
pulled behind a haulier by a
rope tied round his (or her)
waist and passing between
the legs. It’s possible that
the floor of the tunnel
would have had wooden
planks for the sledge to
slide on. Considering the
width of the adit, the sledge
might have been .3m wide x
1m long. If loaded with
broken rock to .1m depth,
that gives a load of about 50kg (1cwt) which, although not unreasonable, is possibly a bit
on the high side. This amount of solid rock occupies about .02m3, so each sledge-load of
rock would have represented an advance of .045m (i.e. less than 2 inches!) or possibly less.
I leave it as an exercise for the reader as to how many loads would need to be brought out,
how long this would take, and how often the miner would need to have his chisel re-forged.
   Agricola (right) shows a miner possibly working in this way (although it may be he is
working with a short pick in his left hand, it’s not entirely clear from the woodcut), but in a
taller adit which allows the use of a wheeled truck. If wheeled haulage were used, the
individual loads would be greater and the haul time reduced.
   It must be borne in mind that the driving would be done by no more than the light of a
candle or tallow dip, and the hauliers probably worked with no light at all. As the adit
lengthened the atmosphere at the working face must have been foul – as an everyday
occupation all very different from our present occasional recreational explorations.
However, as far as I am concerned the most impressive aspect of the whole enterprise and a
tribute to the skill of the miners is that the line and level of the adit were maintained under
those conditions.                                                                   Dave Linton
36. More Montgomeryshire Notes (NL 55 item 18) The Autumn 2006 Newsletter
included an article of mine entitled ‘Some West Montgomeryshire Notes’. Not surprisingly,
it contained an error: Roger Bird has pointed out that the North Van mine mentioned in the
North Van Mines (Ltd) prospectus of May 1874 (p. 21 of the Newsletter) was neither of the
North Van mines situated near Trefeglwys, as I had carelessly assumed, but was in the
Severn valley, 7 miles from Llanidloes. The distance indicates the Rhydybenwch Mine,
mentioned on p. 20, and what I know of the workings there, which is not much, matches
what was said in the prospectus. But who would have expected to find a North Van by the
upper Severn?
   When producing the original article I did not include entries in the Annual Lists of
Mines. I give here those where persons were employed, which restricts the source to the
Inspectors of Mines reports from 1879 onwards.

                                            – 22 –
                                     Welsh Mines Society                             Spring 2008
   1880        C.H. Stokes employed 2 men underground at Cwm Hafod, Machynlleth.
   1880        Evans and Morgan, and in 1881 Francis Evans, employed 4 men underground at Dinas,
   1882        F.R.Whitehead employed 6 men underground at Moelfre.
   1883–1884   Lord Sudeley employed 11 men altogether at Carnedd, at Caersws
               (abandoned August, 1884).
   1888        H.J. Stokes employed 4 men underground at Moel, ‘8 miles from Machynlleth’.
   1899–1906   Davies and Mantle, later Jenkyn and Mantle, employed 2 or 3 men at Bwlchysgellyn,
               copper, ‘2 miles from Machynlleth’.
   1909        The North Wales Lead Co., Ld., employed 4 people above ground, and 10 below, at Pen-
               y-Gaer, Llanidloes (but suspended).
Other than that I assume that Moelfre is Moelfre Wheal Fortune, I know nothing more of
the above ventures, nor their exact locations. Perhaps someone else can take us further?
                                                                            George W. Hall

37. Annual General Meeting This was held on 15th March in Liverpool. The main items
of significance to report are that Steve Holding continues as Chairman, Nigel Dibben has
been appointed as Secretary, George Price continues as Treasurer and Peter Claughton as
Editor and Conservation Officer. The subscription rate for constituent bodies for 2009 will
be £20 (an increase from the previous rate of £15 which had been in force for some years).
38. NAMHO 2010 Conference This will be in Shropshire (hosted by PDMHS) but
further details are not yet available.

39. Membership Information for 2008 As always your subscription status is given on
the envelope label. If you have not paid in the last three months it is either because you
were already paid up or you have ignored/overlooked my letter at the beginning of
February requesting payment.
  Annual Newsletter-only subscription £4
  Annual Membership including newsletter and overground BCA insurance £9
  Annual Membership including newsletter and underground BCA insurance £20
  Annual Membership including newsletter and underground BCA insurance for full-
time students (under 18) £8
If you are insured with another BCA club (overground or underground) then you are
covered when with the WMS and only need pay £4.
  If you are not insured with the WMS or another BCA club you must pay the 2008
insurance premium if you intend to attend a WMS field trip meeting – otherwise you are
putting other members and the Society’s officers at risk.
  Payment (by cheque made out to Welsh Mines Society) to David Roe, 20 Lutterburn
Street, Ugborough, Ivybridge, Devon PL21 0NG
40. New Members       The Society welcomes the following new (or rejoining) members:

                                              – 23 –
Newsletter 58                                     Welsh Mines Society
   Mr K Bowler                        Murmur-y-nant, 2,Gernant, Pentre Llanrhaedr LL16 4YN,
                                      mkbowlers@talktalk.net (A, C, Ge, H, IA, M, S)
   Mrs J Golding                      PO BOX 401898, Gaborone, Botswana, alang@botsnet.bw
   Ms S Hepplewhite                   as J R Griffiths
   Mr R Lemon                         Lon Gert, Garndolbenmaen, Gwynedd LL51 9UX
   Mr K Moorhouse                     Cwmcoch, Cwmdauddwr, Rhayader, Powys LD6 5HA,
                                      kit.moorhouse@virgin.net, (A, Ge, IA, M, Mac, U)
41. Directory Changes notified are:
   John and Daveleen Alder            New email addresss aggiealder@btinternet.com
   Mr P C Marshall                    35, Rosewood Close, Burnham on Sea, Somerset TA8 1HG
   Geoff Newton                       New email address geoffnewton@keme.co.uk
   Steve Oliver and                   New email address oliversmith121@btinternet.com
   Christine Smith
   Mr K J Richards                    New email addresss llan5gower@yahoo.ca
   Mrs C Smyth                        1 Maes Gerddi, PORTMADOC, Gwynedd LL49 9LE
   Mr G Smith                         New email addresss GrahamJSmith@blueyonder.co.uk
   Mr R A Williams                    20 The Yonne, City Walls Road, Chester CH1 2NH, rawilliams@tesco.net
Please let David Roe (address on front page) know of any changes to your postal or email
address, phone number or interests so that the Directory can be kept up to date.

Acknowledgements Many thanks to all those who have provided me with contributions
and feedback for the newsletter. Items are credited to the contributor, unless written by me
(Dave Linton) with the Editor’s hat on. Thanks are also due as usual to my partner Pam
Cope, who has given me the benefit of her professional expertise on the typographical and
copy editorial aspects of this issue, and to David Roe, who looks after reproduction and
distribution of the Newsletter. (The mistakes are all my own work!)
Copy Date for the next Newsletter is 15th October 2008 (although earlier contributions
make the Editor’s task considerably easier) with publication due mid-November.
Contributions (preferably by email to editor@welshmines.org or else on disk) to Dave
Linton (postal address on front page).
   Please note that despite our Secretary’s reference in his membership letter of 4th January
2008 to “new” print dates, the Newsletter publication dates have not changed and the date
for copy for the next Newsletter shown above is correct.
   As always, contributions to the Newsletter are solicited. Anything, be it general article,
field report, book review, note, news item from local paper, TV, radio, web or just ‘heard
down the pub’, is welcome. Without these the Newsletter would cease to exist, so please
keep sending them in!
Commercial Advertisement Rates A4/A5 flyers or full page £30.00, half page £15.00.
Please contact Dave Linton with details or David Roe if it’s a flyer.
Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect policy or the opinion of the
Welsh Mines Society or its officers. It is the responsibility of contributors to ensure that all necessary permissions, particularly
for the reproduction of illustrations, are obtained. Contributors retain copyright of items published and material in this
Newsletter must not be reproduced without the contributor’s express permission.
                                                              – 24 –

To top