|Date||12 July 2014|
|Location||Betws Garmon||SH 54415 57925; 53.09859°N, 4.17583°W|
Visible from a distance as a diagonal gash in the mountainside above Betws Garmon, the workings for iron on the western flank of Moel Eilio form a series of opencuts and adits. These were operated as two separate concerns, divided by an opposing diagonal created by a parish boundary wall. The lower was known as the Ystrad or Silurian mine, the upper as Garreg Fawr.
Up until 1900, Ystrad mine consisted only of small opencast workings and was developed on a larger scale from 1909 by the Bettws Garmon Iron Ore and Smelting Company. A tramway connected the mine to the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway (NWNGR) – the forerunner of the Welsh Highland Railway (WHR). The company soon changed its name to the Phosphoric Iron Ore Company. In financial straits, it was taken over (on paper) in 1913 by a new entity, the Silurian Iron Ore Company, the former company’s assets, but not its liabilities, being transferred to the new company. The mine closed in 1919.
Garreg Fawr mine originated as an unsuccessful trial for copper ore. Iron ore was instead mined there for a period in the 1840s and the site was worked in conjunction with the nearby slate quarry in the 1860s by the Garreg Fawr Slate and Mineral Company. The mine was thereafter operated sporadically under a number of different proprietors until being acquired in 1907 by Wolverhampton-based Alfred Hickman Ltd. Major developments were undertaken at this time, including the construction of a 4.7 km long aerial ropeway. This conveyed buckets of ore up over the shoulder of the hill, via the col Bwlch y groes, and then down to Llanberis. The ropeway terminus, on the banks of Llyn Padarn, joined a siding of the London and North Western Railway (LNWR). The mine closed in 1913 and enjoyed a brief burst of activity during World War I when access to foreign sources of iron was under threat.