Cwm Bychan/Nantmor Copper Mine (1)

Cable sheave at the upper terminus of the aerial ropeway (B)


14 April 2012

Cwm Bychan, Beddgelert

(A) SH 59773 46280; 52.99542°N, 4.09080°W
(B) SH 60382 47511; 53.00664°N, 4.08225°W


Records of workings at the mine in Cwm Bychan, close to Beddgelert, date back to 1720, with activity peaking towards the end of the 18th century. In the 1870s the mine was run by the Cwm Buchan Silver Lead Mining Company. A brief, but unsuccessful, attempt was made to re-work the mine in the 1920s. This period of activity lasted for four years, but with virtually no ore being extracted during that time.

A number of surface structures from the 1920s remain at the site, including the ruins of a 1.4 km long aerial ropeway. This was constructed to convey ore from the workings at the top of the cwm down to a mill area at the bottom, close the Welsh Highland Railway.

Buddle boss (A)

Circular buddle (ore separation trough) (A)

Studs (A)

Concrete tank (A)

Spindle (A) - part of the lower cableway terminus at the processing mill

Concrete platforms (A). The cage seen in the background would have held rocks to weigh it down and was used to tension the ropeway cable.

Cable tensioner (A)

Cable tensioner sheave (A)

Cable tower sheaves

Cable tower

Cable tower

Cable tower sheave

Cable towers (B)

Cable towers

Upper ropeway terminus (B). The carriers on the side rail would have carried buckets of ore from the mine workings down to the processing mill at the foot of the cwm.

Carrier sheave on side rail (B)

Cable sheave at the ropeway terminus (B)

Upper cable terminus


14 thoughts on “Cwm Bychan/Nantmor Copper Mine (1)

  1. Great. I particularly like the first two images and especially that sparkle of light on the buddle bearing. I’m also a little jealous, since I have been here on several occasions and have failed to get even one effective image…. Your images of the lower terminus of the ropeway would suggest some clearance of the undergrowth has taken place at some time. I seem to recall the cable tension device as quite difficult to reach a few years ago.

    • Thanks Mark. It looks as if there is quite a bit of bracken around that area which probably grows taller and thicker later in the season. But, yes, at the moment it is easily reached.

  2. Really inspirational photographs. I love the images of the cable sheave; interesting that the central axle and bearing unit are identical to those Denbigh types at Hafod Las and Penarth; I guess they were items bought off the shelf, perhaps? The photos are all superb, but I do love the one of the concrete platform and cage…the cage looks like some 1960’s space creature, so out of context in the sylvan surroundings!

  3. You have a great eye for detail shots and it has apparently inspired me because yesterday while wandering through one of the really cool cemeteries in New Orleans (I’m visiting a friend), I kept saying, “Now how would Graham see this. What detail can I pick out?” I love “Studs A.” Such a mundane subject, yet captured so well. And “Cable Towers B” gives a great sense of the place and the repetition and alignment are perfect.

  4. Pingback: Cwm Bychan/Nantmor Copper Mine (2) « GeoTopoi

  5. I didn’t realise so much of the aerial ropeway was left intact, let alone standing. The last operating one was up at a brickworks in Lancaster but that closed last year I think, not sure if the ropeway is still there now.

    • Yes, it was fascinating to see the pylons and the terminus machinery still in place. Must have been a marvel to see it in operation, although by the sound of it this one would not have had all that much work to do.

  6. Pingback: Vision in Grey | GeoTopoi

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