Garreg Fawr / Ystrad (Silurian) Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Date

12 July 2014
Location

Betws Garmon

SH 54415 57925; 53.09859°N, 4.17583°W

Information

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.

Further Reading

Ystrad/ Garreg Fawr Iron Mines (Treasure Maps);
Dr Gwynfor Pierce-Jones, “Iron Ore Mines of Betws and Waunfawr”, Welsh Highland Heritage No 39, March 2008

 

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines with Hafod-y-wern forest and Moel Tryfan in the background. Alexandra slate quarry can just be seen on the crest of Moel Tryfan.

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines

Garreg Fawr / Ystrad Iron Mines from the opposite side of the Gwyrfai valley (22 February 2014)

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14 thoughts on “Garreg Fawr / Ystrad (Silurian) Iron Mines

  1. Interesting write-up and thanks again for the link, Graham. Your photos are stunning and I am always fascinated by what you make of a place when I have been too…as usual your eye picks things up that I missed. From the photos there is no doubt that it’s an iron mine, lots of very clever observations of the mineral flows. I like the sheep, too! Nice to see a reference to dear old Gwynfor’s piece. I happened upon a distant view of the mine this year while tramping across the Alexandria tips…sometimes I forget to join up the local geography dots:-)

    • Thanks, Iain. I’d been mentally keeping the long shot from the other side of the valley back in February to one side, ready to include when I managed to get a chance of a closer inspection.

  2. Pingback: Garreg Fawr Aerial Ropeway | GeoTopoi

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