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

 

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Berw Colliery

Cottage with steam-engine chimney in the background, Berw Colliery

Cottage with steam-engine chimney in the background, Berw Colliery

Date

5 October 2013
Location

Pentre Berw, Anglesey

SH 46362 72473; 53.22700°N, 4.30299°W

Information

Work was undertaken in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to enclose and drain the marshland at Malltraeth in order to reclaim it for agricultural use. Access to the land also brought with it the opportunity of further exploiting the Anglesey coalfield, running from Llangefni to the Cefni estuary, from which coal had been extracted since the 15th century.

Berw Colliery, owned by Lord Boston, was one of a small number of 19th-century coal mines at Malltraeth. Its shaft was sunk in 1839 and a 240hp steam engine was installed both to drain the mine and to raise the coal to the surface. The row of farmstead cottages and sheds on the site were built when the colliery was still in operation. There was little activity at the mine after 1868, but the farm buildings were still occupied up until the 1980s. The ruins were scheduled by Cadw in 2005 and the site now forms part of the Malltraeth nature reserve managed by the RSPB.

Berw Collieries, Malltraeth Marsh (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

 

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Llwyndu or Crib Ddu Copper Mine

Llwyndu Copper Mine

Llwyndu Copper Mine – view from the mine manager’s house or office. The entrance to the stopes of the old workings can be seen above the spoil heap, top centre. The dressing floor, middle right, was where the ore was cobbed by a team of twenty girls.

Date

9 March 2013
Location

Grib Ddu, Mynydd Sygyn, Beddgelert

SH 60567 48322; 53.01397°N, 4.07986°W

Information

Llwyndu or Crib Ddu Copper Mine is located at the top of the hill above Sygun Copper Mine and was worked for a time as part of the Sygun enterprise. In fact, the company owning Sygun mine changed its name to the Llwyndu Mine Company in 1839. Llwyndu Mine was, however, only in operation for around nine years and the site was abandoned by 1844.

Llwyndu Copper Mine Processing Area (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

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Sygun Copper Mine

Outbye, adit on an upper level

Outbye, adit on an upper level above the show-mine section of the complex

Date

9 March 2013
Location

Mynydd Sygyn, Beddgelert

SH 60528 48519; 53.01573°N, 4.08052°W

Information

It is thought that mining for copper at Sygun in the Gwynant valley close to Beddgelert could have originated in Roman times. Recorded activity at Sygun Copper Mine, however, dates back to the 18th century. During the 19th century, the concern suffered various financial difficulties and changed ownership a number of times before finally closing in 1903. Part of the complex, from the Deep Adit up to the Victoria Level, was renovated as a show mine and opened to the public as a tourist attraction in 1986.

Incidentally, at the end of the 19th century Sygun was one of the first mines in the world to make use of a revolutionary new method for separating minerals. An oil-based flotation process had been patented in 1869 by William Haynes, but it was the Elmore brothers who were the first to commercially develop an industrial-scale process. At the time, Stanley Elmore owned Sygun mine and his brother Frank patented their process in 1898. The basic principle of the process exploits the differences in hydrophobicity between the valuable metal sulphide and the gangue, or unwanted rock present in the ore. When a slurry of finely crushed ore, water and oil is agitated, the sulphides, having a greater affinity for oil than water, tend to accumulate in the former leaving the gangue in the latter. The sulphide-rich oil layer can then be separated off from which the concentrated ore is recovered.

Sygun Copper Mine (Royal Commission on the ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales);
Sygun Copper Mine (Wales Underground);
Sygun Copper Mine (official site)

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Moelwyn Mine

Adit, Moelwyn Mine

Adit, Moelwyn Mine

Date

1 December 2012
Location

Llyn Ystradau, Moelwynion

SH 67210 43522; 52.97254°N, 3.97892°W

Information

Moelwyn Mine is located on the lower eastern slopes of Moelwyn Bach, above Llyn Ystradau. Also known variously as Moelwyn No. 2, Gwaith Mango and Gwaith Mein, the mine opened around 1892. It was purchased in 1893 by the Moelwyn Mining Company and was later owned by the Union Zinc Mining Company. In 1908 a new siding to the mine from the Ffestiniog Railway was opened. Manganese, zinc and lead were mined at the workings, which closed following World War I.

On the slopes of Moelwyn

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Llanrwst Lead Mine

18m stone-and-brick built chimney stack, engine and boiler house

Date

21 July 2012
Location

Gwydyr Forest

SH 77961 59327; 53.11710°N, 3.82491°W

Information

The Llanrwst Lead Mine engine and boiler house stands in ruins adjacent to the grounds of Nant Bwlch yr Haearn Outdoor Education Centre in Gwydyr Forest. Built in 1876, the structure housed an 11-ton Cornish boiler and a 25-inch-cylinder condensing engine. The steam engine drove a winding drum and also supplied power, transmitted via a line of flat rods, to the nearby Endean Shaft, where a pumping system drained the mine.

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Parc Lead Mine

Outfall from adit

Date

21 July 2012
Location

Gwydyr Forest

SH 78749 60143; 53.12461°N, 3.81344°W

Information

Of the numerous lead mines in Gwydyr Forest, Parc Mine was the largest, most successful and the last to close. Official records of production date back to 1860, when the mine was operated as Gwydyr Park Consols by the D’Ersby and Gwydyr Company. There were a number of lengthy interruptions during its history and work at the mine ended in 1958. It was later used in 1962-3 for experiments into automated milling before finally closing for good.

Rock extracted from the mine was crushed on site and the lead and zinc ores separated before being sent elsewhere for further processing. Today there remains very little of the surface structures at the mine. In fact, remedial work was undertaken to revegetate the site in the 1970s in order to reduce the environmental impact from contamination from the spoil heaps. Erosion of the tailings was allowing lead and zinc to leach out into the nearby stream. Polluted water then entered the Afon Conwy, affecting agricultural land on its flood plain downstream. To counteract this, the waste tip was regraded, capped with a layer of shale and then seeded with a resistant species of grass.

Parc Mine played a role in a research project investigating the elastic behaviour of the Earth’s structure. Between 1972 and 1975, researchers from Bidston Observatory, Birkenhead set up a monitoring station in one of the mine’s tunnels 41m below ground. Loading on the surface of the Earth by the sea varies with the tides and this in turn causes variations in the tilt of land relatively close to the coast. Accurately measuring these perturbations and correlating them with the movements of the tides allows information about the elastic properties of the upper strata of the Earth to be inferred. The final conclusion of the project, however, was that, owing in part to deformations of the cavity of the tunnel itself, measurements of a high enough accuracy could not be obtained in mines and that boreholes would provide a more suitable location for this type of investigation.

Parc Lead Mine (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

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Pandora Lead Mine

Spoil heaps, with Moel Siabod in the background

Date

21 July 2012
Location

Gwydyr Forest

SH 76764 60269; 53.12528°N, 3.84314°W

Information

This is one of the many lead mines in Gwydyr Forest and was operated between 1889 and 1906 by the Welsh Crown Spelter Company. The mine appeared variously on Ordnance Survey maps as: Willoughby Lead mine (1889); Welsh Foxdale Lead Mine (1900); New Pandora Lead Mine (1913).

Ore won from the mine was transported via a 2.8 km tramway along the eastern shore of Llyn Geirionydd and then down a 200m-long aerial ropeway to be processed at Klondyke Mill (then the New Pandora Lead Works).

New Pandora Mine (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

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Bryn Cenhadon Mine

Bryn Cenhadon Mine

Date

14 July 2012
Location

Gwydyr Forest

SH 76635 61803; 53.13904°N, 3.84567°W

Information

Bryn Cenhadon was one of the many lead mines on the Gwydir Estate and is located on the river just north of Llyn Geirionydd. There are workings above the waterfall, as shown here, and also on both banks of the Afon Geirionydd in the ravine below the waterfall. The mine is mentioned in Robert Hunt’s 1873 Mineral Statistics of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

More posts about Gwydyr Forest

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Klondyke Lead Mine

Klondyke Lead Mine

Date

7 July 2012
Location

Gwydyr Forest

SH 76511 61982; 53.14062°N, 3.84758°W

Information

This adit, part of Klondyke Lead Mine or the nearby Bryn Cenhadon Mine, is one of several on the banks of the Afon Geirionydd in the ravine situated between Klondyke Mill and the northern end of Llyn Geirionydd.

More posts in the Gwydyr Forest series

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Klondyke Mill

Klondyke Mill, western elevation

Date

7 July 2012
Location

Gwydyr Forest

SH 76522 62182; 53.14242°N, 3.84750°W

Information

Lead mining in the Gwydyr Forest area dates back to around 1615, when John Wynn, 1st Baronet, had samples of ore from his Gwydir Estate analysed. Mining activity in the area, in a total of about 21 mines, continued until the early 20th century.

Klondyke Mill was built in 1899 and first appeared in the Ordnance Survey map in its 1914 edition as the New Pandora Lead Works. The mine at the mill was never very productive and the majority of the ore processed there came from the Pandora mine at the southern end of Llyn Geirionydd. The ore was conveyed via a tramway along the eastern shore of the lake and then down a 200m-long aerial ropeway from the tramway terminus some 65m above the mill. The mill was powered by water from the lake, its 82 hp turbine being fed via a 15 inch pipe.

The site was also known as the Crown Spelter Mill, but the name Klondyke comes from the time after the First World War when the mill was operated by the Devon and Crafnant Mining Syndicate. The latter was owned by Joseph Aspinall, a fraudster who was indicted in 1922 for misappropriation of funds in a confidence trick at the mine, the proceeds of which he had used to fund his lavish lifestyle. Aspinall had claimed to have discovered a vast deposit of silver and brought parties of investors, many of whom were rich elderly ladies, up from London to visit the mine. The glittering faces of the tunnels that they were shown were not, however, a massive lode of silver, but in fact 20 tons of lead concentrate purchased from Cornwall and applied to the tunnel walls.

Gwydyr Forest

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Cwm Bychan/Nantmor Copper Mine (1)

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

Date

14 April 2012
Location

Cwm Bychan, Beddgelert

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

Information

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.

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Prestongrange Beam Engine

Cast-iron beam

Date

4 April 2012
Location

Morrison’s Haven, Prestonpans, East Lothian

NT 37108 73647; 55.95170°N, 3.00871°W

Information

The Prestongrange Coal and Iron Company installed this second-hand beam engine, which had previously served in four different mines in Cornwall, in 1874 to drain the coal mine at Prestongrange. The front wall of the Pumping House was built 7 ft thick in order to support the main pivot bearing of the huge cast-iron beam. The pump rod alone weighs over 100 tons. The beam engine continued in operation until 1954, when it was superseded by electric pumps. It is Scotland’s only beam engine remaining at its site of operation.

Prestongrange, located between the towns of Musselburgh and Prestonpans in East Lothian, is now an open-air industrial museum and is a site of great historical importance. Records of extraction of coal there date back to 1194. There was a glassworks there in the 17th century and a pottery in the 18th. Prestongrange Colliery was established in 1820 and was in operation until 1962. The site was also home to a large brickworks which closed in 1975.

Prestongrange (prestongrange.org); Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum (Wikipedia)

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Dark Places

Caban, Dinorwic Quarry · Fron-boeth Quarry Tunnel, Cwm Croesor · Llanberis Bomb Store · Moel Faban Quarry · Dinas Railway Tunnel, Tregarth · Braich Tunnel, Dinorwic Quarry

‘Dark Places’ on YouTube

Blaen-y-nant Molybdenum Mine
Braichmelyn
Coed y Dinas Copper Mine
Croesor Quarry
Cwm Ceunant Copper Mine
Dinorwic Quarry
Dorothea Quarry
Fron-boeth Quarry
Glyn Rhonwy Isaf Quarry
Caseg Valley
Moel Faban Quarry

Rhosydd Quarry
Tan-y-garth Arsenic Mine
Dinas Tunnel, Tregarth
Dolbadarn Castle
Roughcastle Tunnel, Falkirk
Llanberis Bomb Store
Llanddulas Jetty
Penrhyn Quarry
ROC Llangefni
Coast Artillery School, Great Orme

Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum

Pit Head Baths. The Visitor Centre, close to the Bath House, was formerly the colliery canteen. The Bath House itself is now used for storage of steam engines.

Date

21 December 2011
Location

Morrison’s Haven, Prestonpans, East Lothian

NT 37108 73647; 55.95170°N, 3.00871°W

Information

Prestongrange is located in East Lothian, between the towns of Musselburgh and Prestonpans. The earliest documented extraction of coal there was in 1194 when the Cistercian monks from Newbattle Abbey exploited this natural resource. The nearby port at Morrison’s Haven was also established around this time to transport the coal. The harbour was built in the 16th century and was in use until the 20th — it was filled in and landscaped in the 1960s.

In nearby Prestonpans, coal from Prestongrange was used to boil sea water in large pans to produce salt. By the beginning of the 15th century there were 10 salt works there. This activity later developed into a more sophisticated chemical industry, producing, for example, sulphuric acid. This was one of several industries that sprung up in the area on account of the ready availability of fuel, leading to Prestongrange becoming an integrated industrial complex. There was a glassworks there in the 17th century and a pottery in the 18th. Coal mining was industrialised in the 19th century, with Prestongrange Colliery being established in 1820. The site was also home to a large brickworks, which produced bricks, tiles and drainage pipes. Scotland’s first deep shaft (140 m) was sunk here in 1829. A second-hand Cornish beam engine, which had previously served in four different mines in Cornwall, was purchased and installed in 1874 to drain the mine, which allowed deeper working to be carried out.

Industrial activity peaked at the start of the 20th century when over 1000 workers were employed between the brickworks and the coal mine. The colliery closed in 1962 followed by the brickworks in 1975.

After the colliery shut down clearance of the site started, but a halt was later called to this when plans for creating an open-air museum were adopted. Many of the site’s structures were, however, lost in the process. In 1984 the Scottish Mining Museum opened at Prestongrange. The site remained part of this museum, which was based at Lady Victoria Colliery in Newtongrange, which had closed in 1981, until 1992, when East Lothian Council Museum Service took over its operation. It was rebranded as Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum on account of the other industries which had also shared the site.

Prestongrange (prestongrange.org); Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum (Wikipedia)

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Carmel Head

Skerries Lighthouse

Date

3 December 2011
Location

Carmel Head, Anglesey

SH 29817 92865; 53.40507°N, 4.56152°W

Information

Carmel Head is the north-westernmost point on the island of Anglesey. A further three kilometres out to the north-west is the group of rocky islets known as the Skerries, which form part of a Special Protection Area on account of their resident colony of seabirds, and have also been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

In 1714 the leaseholder of the Skerries, a William Trench, was granted permission to erect a lighthouse there, which ultimately led to his downfall. The light was commissioned in 1717 and Trench died twelve years later, deeply in debt owing to evasion by ships and merchants of the light dues. The lighthouse was purchased by Trinity House in 1841. Originally the light source was a coal brazier; an oil lamp was employed from 1804, and in 1927 an electric light was installed. The lighthouse was automated in 1987.

There are plans to exploit the power of the tidal currents between Carmel Head and the Skerries to generate electricity using seven 1.5 MW turbines, each standing nine metres above sea level. The Anglesey Skerries Tidal Stream Array is a joint project currently being developed by npower renewables and Marine Current Turbines.

In the 1860s the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board constructed the pilot beacons — informally known as the White Ladies. The two stone pylons on Carmel Head align with a third located on West Mouse, a rock lying 1.2 km north by northeast offshore. The line of sight through the three markers indicates the direction of Coal Rock, a dangerous reef approximately another kilometre beyond West Mouse.

Close to the beacons are a chimney and the remains of office buildings of Carmel Head Mine, a small copper works. A mineral-mining lease was granted in 1756 in this area and in 1839 extravagant claims about the potential of the site, comparing it to that of Parys copper mine, were made in a share prospectus published by The Gaddair Copper Mining Company, which had sunk trial shafts in the area. The mine was sold in the 1860s and abandoned soon after because of poor yields.

Skerries (Trinity House);
Anglesey Skerries Tidal Stream Array (RWE npower renewables);
Coal Rock Pilot Beacons, Carmel Head (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

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Hafna Mine, Gwydyr Forest

Chimney, Hafna Mine processing mill

Date

15 October 2011
Location

Gwydyr Forest

SH 78108 60104; 53.12412°N, 3.82300°W

Information

Around 1615 Sir John Wynn, 1st Baronet, had samples of lead ore from his Gwydir Estate analysed, which then resulted in organised mining on the estate starting some five years later. Mining activity in the area, in a total of around 21 mines, was to continue for some 300 years.

There are records of the Hafna lead mine being reworked from 1819 by the landowner Edward Lloyd of the Plas-yn-Cefn Estate. The first mill buildings here were built in 1879 and the mine finally closed around 1915.

The Hafna Mill Complex was originally constructed in 1879 and underwent a number of changes before working ceased around 1915. Today it is still possible to identify at least three constructional phases from the surviving remains.

The main area of the site comprises the mill itself which is built on four floors. It was here that the ore was crushed, sorted and concentrated prior to smelting.

All mechanical processes at the mill were originally driven by a waterwheel, later replaced by a gas engine.

Ore was brought into the mill from the mine via an adit and a shaft located just beyond the top floor of the mill. The ore was stored in bins and then sorted by hand on the upper, first floor of the mill. From there it was mechanically crushed on the second floor. The crushed and partially separated ore was then jigged and the larger pieces of pure ore removed for smelting. The remaining material was then buddled, a type of gravity separation process, to isolate the smaller particles of pure ore. The remains of a circular buddle pit can be seen protruding from under a later concrete floor that housed the oil flotation tanks which came to replace the earlier separation methods. The waste material from all stages of the milling process was taken by tram through tunnels on each floor to be dumped. The fine residues from the mill were collected in a large slime pit which was occasionally dug out and re-processed.

Smelting House

Of all the mine mill sites found within the Gwydyr Forest Park, Hafna is unique in having its own smelt house, built in the 1880s.

The remains of the smelt house and adjacent blowing house can be seen behind the slime pit on the third floor level of the mill. The blowing house once housed a pair of mechanically operated bellows that generated air via pipes for the smelting hearth, located below the flue arch. The smelter would have been a relatively simple affair, probably a reverberatory furnace of Flintshire type.

Ore and fuel would have been mixed together and raked in the furnace, effectively roasting the ore. As the temperature was increased the molten metal would flow to the bottom of the furnace, from where it was tapped.

Because of the toxic fumes from smelting the furnace chimney was set above and away from the mill. The two were linked by a long flue, the line of which can still be seen.

  — Forestry Commission Wales interpretive panels

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