Yr Ymddiriedolaeth Cadwraeth Mwynfeydd Cymru

Number 33

Spring 2015

Graham Levins: Secretary’s notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1–3

Nigel Chapman: Cwmbyr: excavations in 2013 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4–6
Trust activities in 2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Graham Levins: 2014 Heritage Weekend: Van Mine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



400 th anniversary celebrations of Myddelton’s New River . . . . . . . . . . 13–17
John Hine: A cautionary tale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Ioan Lord: The Caegynon and Gogerddan Mines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20–30
Robert Ireland: Mines, miners, and the Pontrhydfendigaid police, 1857–1860

. . . . . . . . 31–36

Jeremy Wilkinson 1936 – 2013

(Rob Vernon)

John Henner

1925 – 2014

(Graham Levins) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

George W. Hall

1924 – 2013

(Hugh Ratzer) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


†George Hall: An obsession with mines: notes for a talk given at the
NAMHO conference 2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Notes for contributors



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54

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Graham Levins

Over the last year we lost three members of the Trust, George Hall, Jeremy Wilkinson
and Mary Hyde: they will be sadly missed.
On 25–26 May 2013 we held our Heritage Weekend in Mid Wales: the theme was the
400th Anniversary of the completion of Sir Hugh Myddelton’s New River in London.
Over the weekend we visited some of the mines associated with him: see the reports on
pages 13–17. We also held three working weekends at Cwmbyr, where some very
interesting discoveries were made: see the reports on pages 4–7. On the first day of the
NAMHO weekend in Aberystwyth (29–30 June 2013) I gave a talk on the work of the
Trust: on the Sunday we held an open day at Graig Goch Mine and Pont Ceunant
Generating Station for delegates to see our work there. We had been asked to open and
man an excavation for visitors: at Graig Goch we opened the buddles and an area of
cobbled flooring. This managed to fill a sunny weekend, when we had a grand total of
four visitors.
The time has come for some changes to the Trust. Unfortunately over the last ten years
we have suffered a decrease in membership: it has now reached the stage where we must
take some action, as expenditure on insurance, postage etc. is reaching the point where
it will soon exceed our income. To address this, the Directors have decided that
Membership Subscription will increase from £8 to £10 per year. This is the first increase
for ten years.
We are also hoping to make some savings on the production and distribution of the
Newsletter. Firstly let me stress that paper copies of the Newsletter will still be available
to members who wish to receive it that way. For several years we have supplied the
Newsletter on disc, which has the bonus that it comes in colour and from time to time
there is some additional material. This saves the Trust the cost of photocopying and
reduces the cost of postage. We are now offering the opportunity to receive your
Newsletter using the Dropbox utility on the internet. You will get an email when the
Newsletter is ready to download: it will contain a link that you click on, enabling you to
download the Newsletter direct to your computer.
From this issue we will do our best to produce a Newsletter each December, which will
contain about 50 or 60 pages. In March each year we will produce a News Sheet with
latest news and dates of Trust events during the coming summer.
On your membership application form (see the last page of this issue) you have a choice
of receiving your Newsletter as a paper copy, on a disc or via the internet (please add your
email address). Please select the option you require.

After twelve years as Secretary, running the Trust, I am reducing my workload: this
coincides with my retirement from full-time employment. At this year’s AGM the
Directors created a new role within the management of the Trust, that of Treasurer. Our
Membership Director Nigel Chapman offered to undertake this role: he will take over
all financial affairs of the Trust. Peter Claughton offered to take over the organisation of
the Ceredigion Mines Forum and the annual Heritage Weekend, and Robert Ireland will
become the editor of the Newsletter, having previously compiled it on my behalf. This
will leave me to continue with the day-to-day running of the Trust, a much reduced
We are hoping that these changes will make the Trust more efficient and be able to
function within its income, and move forward into the future.

George Hall’s index to The Mining Journal, 1835–1921
The digital version of the late George Hall’s Index to the metalliferous mines of Wales and
Shropshire referred to in The Mining Journal, volumes 1 (1835) – 135 (1921) is now in an
advanced state of preparation. A trial copy will be available for consultation on our
website (www.welshminestrust.org) later this year.

The long-awaited digital reconstruction of the Pont Ceunant generating plant in action
can now be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/user/RCAHMWales, and we expect to
be able to arrange a link via our own website shortly.

[check on website for latest news of events]]


April 25/26
May 23/24/25
June 20/21
July 25/26
August 15/16
August 29/30/31
September 12/13
October 10/11

location tba
tba: may be cancelled if Heritage Weekend goes ahead
Heritage Weekend
location tba
location tba

Nigel Chapman
We resumed work at Cwmbyr on 27–28 July by exploring the winding house opposite to
the water wheel pit. This single storey building had a fireplace in the east wall, still
retaining a battered iron fire-grate. Very noticeable here was the shale slab floor reaching
to the edge of the winding-drum pit, while the rest of the floor appears to have been
wooden. In the days when this building housed a winding drum, the driver would have
spent hours on the shale-slab floor, warming himself by the fire, so the shale floor was
not only hard wearing but reduced the obvious fire risk. On the west side of the building
would have been open with a large water-wheel turning, with water and draughts making
life difficult, so the fireplace must have been very welcome. Before we excavated this
building, it appears to be just a cabin for meals etc. The finding of a large pit in the
middle of the building for a winding drum was something of a surprise, as another
winding system using a water turbine was known to have been used at the mine.
Probably this had been the original winder at the mine, being replaced later with the
faster turbine winder. Once the winding drum had been removed the pit was filled with
an orange-coloured clay and a wooden floor laid over it. Much ironwork was found in the
building, suggesting that at closure it was used as a store for smaller items. A couple of
broken pick heads and small-diameter cog wheels were among the items discovered.

During 2010 part of a small-diameter water-wheel was
noticed projecting from the ground. Some limited
excavation was undertaken, proving that much of the
wheel remained to be studied. This year, with more
diggers available, we returned to this area, and about
one third of a wooden water wheel was found and
drawn. However, the shale-block-lined pit for the
wheel was much larger to the north, suggesting that at
one time a larger wheel occupied the pit. A drive shaft
from the wheel was used to drive two large buddles
and possibly other machinery on the dressing floors.
A surprise was to find a toothed iron rim on this
wheel, which is located on the west side, i.e. the side
close to the stream. From this rim a drive could have
been used to drive machinery about the mine.
Unfortunately the rim is placed on the side of the
wheel that is on a slope above a stream, suggesting the
use of a second-hand wheel which came with the iron
rim already fitted. More research and excavation is required to answer the questions
raised by the wheel-pit and the toothed rim.


Our next visit to Cwmbyr was on 31 August and 1 September, when we looked at the
south wall of the winding house to locate an opening for the rope to access the shaft top.
Having removed a large tree root a nicely sloping opening was found to show that the
winder actually worked. One problem with this plant from the beginning was to decide
if it had been used. Little oil or grease marks were noted, suggesting a short period of
operation and posing the question whether it was actually built and used. The evidence
strongly suggests that the winder was erected and used for a short period, then removed
and the pit buried.
A major shale-waste-moving exercise developed with the next item to excavate, the ore
bins near the shaft. Trams from the mine were pushed out of the cage at the top of the
shaft along a short railway and tipped into an ore bin built into the side of the shaft top.
Most of this square structure was filled with shale and ore from the mine. Some nice
pieces of lead ore were found, together with some zinc blende and white quartz. Clearing
the shale from the front wall of the bin soon disclosed the existence of an opening for the
ore to be removed for treatment. Within the opening a
timberwork slide was found,
with iron plates covering the
most vulnerable parts of the
structure. Research proved
that we had an ore-picking
g r a te i n v e r y g o o d
condition, still retaining
most of its components. The
lead ore, having been tipped
into the sloping ore bin, was
directed towards the
opening in the front wall:
here a man with a long rake
would move the smaller
pieces into the picking grate, over which a stream of water was directed to wash off the
dirt and move the ore through the opening. It then passed to a number of women with
hammers, who broke it into small pieces ready for the crushing mill.
Unfortunately, the local forestry people cut a road through this area of the site years ago,
and destroyed many of the features and ground levels around the primary dressing plant.
Our final visit to Cwmbyr for this year took place on 5–6 October, with up to fifteen
people working on site. We completed work on the wooden water wheel and got plenty
of photographs taken and drawings done. Much heavy work on the ore bin revealed a
shale-slab-built floor, dished and sloping to move the tipped ore to the picking grate.
During the working days of the mine, the local stream falling down the hillside was put
into a wooden channel known as a leat and taken across the mine yard to feed the water
wheel of the crushing mill. Because it had to pass through most of the plant near the

shaft, a section of the leat was put into a tunnel constructed of shale slabs and buried
underground. When the forestry road was put through this area the leat was reduced to
one wall and part of the arched roof. As the tunnel had also gone under the tips of the
mine, much of the remains were partly buried under tonnes of shale. With up to fifteen
diggers available much of the offending shale was removed and the shape and height of
the tunnel could be drawn and photographed. During our work on this area the remains
of a miner’s felt hat were discovered and photographed: we await the completion of
enquires to find a home for it in a museum which can conserve and look after this
delicate item.
Another project which could go ahead with plenty of diggers on site was the removal of
the undergrowth from the pumping quadrant housing and excavation of the remains. A
pumping quadrant resembled a huge inverted letter T, in this instance over 3 metres tall
with a long horizontal beam, all made of pitch-pine. The vertical post had been sawn off
and disappeared some years ago. The front portion of the horizontal beam had rotted off
while hanging over the shaft. Because of the weight in a box on the rear portion of the
post, this had sunk into the ground and was preserved. So we have a wooden post of 4
metres long with some remains of the weight box still to be found. Work on this project
will continue next year.
For the future, further work will be carried out on the wooden water wheel to study the
construction methods and identify how the iron rim was used. More work is also needed
on the wheel pit to find out why it is much larger than the wheel. More sections of the
water leat need excavation and recording, and we must try to find any pieces of the
wooden leat. A building has been identified further north on the mine site: we know
nothing of its use, apart from the finding of domestic bottles and pottery on the site. Was
this a barracks for miners to live in while working during the week? Further north
towards the edge of the mine site is the pit of the 41-foot water wheel which operated the
pumping gear on the mine: this should be excavated and studied. Nearby is an iron rod
projecting from the ground: this is part of the flat rod system from the 41-foot wheel to
operate the pumps in the shaft.

I want to finish by thanking the team of diggers who have moved many tonnes of shale
and rubbish over the year to find some interesting and puzzling remains and items in the
hills of Wales. Many thanks, ladies and gentlemen, and I hope to see you again in 2015
for more interesting things to find and talk about.


Nigel Chapman

The year commenced with a weekend April 26-7 at the Cwmbyr mine site. We continued
work on the pumping quadrant housing, exposing more of the long timber arm of the
quadrant. With plenty of workers, a further project to study the leat system supplying
water to the wheels was commenced. Two short damaged sections of a tunnel were
located and excavated. Another project was to study the floor levels in the Crushing Mill.
Much shale and rubbish had collected in this area, so a general clear out was required.
New information suggested the existence of a fourth water wheel on the site, probably
on the dressing floor, so a search began to find its location.

Our next visit to the mine was on July 12 to 13, when a drawing session was the main
activity for the weekend. Excavation took place during the following weekend with
Graham Levins in charge. During our next visit in August the wooden pumping
quadrant was finally exposed in its stone lined pit. This major item, with a 3.5 metre long
arm by 0.5 metres diameter, has taken over a year to dig. The next job is to measure and
draw it before being reburied.

The search for the fourth water wheel centred on a horizontal timber secured to a couple
of wooden posts driven into the waste rock from the dressing floor. Unfortunately the
rest of the timberwork has been removed leaving only one side of a possible site of a
small wheel. This wheel was mounted above ground level leaving little to find, it appears
to have been aligned to operate plant on the dressing floor. Work to clear out the
Crushing Mill continued with the discovery of a wooden plank floor under the debris
within the building. This has required some careful trowel-work to uncover. Our last
weekend of the year took place on October 11 to 12 with work concentrating on the
Crushing Mill to get the rubbish finally cleared and permit the floors to be towelled.
This was successfully done prior to a visit from a group of employees of the Environment
Agency, who spent a cold Monday on hands and knees towelling the Mill floors.

To the Trust members who have contributed to an interesting and successful years
archaeology, Amanda, Jenny, Mary, Doreen, Sue, Jo, Ellie, Alex, Neil, Neil C. Barry,
Mole, Ioan, Peter W. Peter C. Alan, Ray, Emyr and Graham many thanks for the help
and companionship over this year. I hope to see you all again in 2015.


(2) VAN

Apart from our continuing excavation work at Cwmbyr, we have been involved in the
clearing of trees and scrub at the Van Mine site, where the dense overgrowth had buried
the few structures still remaining from this once fabulous lead mine. Graham’s report on
our activities, with further photographs, will be found below.

We were asked to look at the powder magazine at Esgair Hir lead mine and to prove
information for the restoration of this building. While on site the opportunity was taken
for a measured survey of the miner’s barracks at the mine and a small trial working with
a water wheel pit was also measured and drawn. On a sunny and warm afternoon, we had
a walk round the remains of Esgair Fraith Mine before we parted.

The Sunday also dawned with warm and sunny weather, so we drove to Castell to walk
round the mine, then to walk over to the remains of the West Esgair Lle lead mine as
most of us had never been to the site. We did a measured survey of the large water wheel
pit and the standing walls of the offices, and discovered a fine dressing floor near the site
of Hamilton’s shaft. After much study and chat the walk terminated back at the Castell
Mine site, where David James gave an interesting talk on some tiny fossils found by Sue
in the shale. An excellent day in the Welsh hills.


Graham Levins
Over the Whitsun Bank Holiday period we held our annual Heritage Weekend at Van
Mine: this was also combined with a working weekend. There is a local Community
Council project to lay footpaths over some of the landscaped mine site, and as a
contribution to this the Trust offered to lead walks around the area and to clear the
saplings and undergrowth from the few remaining features at the mine.
On the Saturday, Nigel Chapman (author of The Van Mines, REF) led a walk for local
residents and visitors around the vast area of the mine. Unfortunately the rain gods were
not on our side, but a few hardy souls gathered on site. It was decided to begin the walk,
in the hope that the heavy rain would clear during the morning: as it turned out, the rain
continued all day. This did not deter the attendees, who enjoyed their tour of the area.
On the Saturday evening over forty locals and visitors gathered in the Van Institute to
hear talks by Nigel Chapman, David James and myself on the history and geology of the
Van area. Because the heavy rain might have deterred many locals from taking part in
the walk on Saturday, Nigel offered to re-run the tour on Sunday.
When we arrived at Van on Sunday morning it was still raining, but not as heavily as on
Saturday: fortunately, the rain slowly cleared during the day. A small group of local
people gathered for the tour of the site. With their help, members of the Trust working
group began the task of clearing the saplings and undergrowth which concealed the few
remains of the mine that had not been demolished or buried by landscaping in the early

We began by clearing the
foundations of the producergas plant, then continued
with the compound below the
tramway piers, where the
stone mounting blocks for the
double-beam steam engine
that drove the crusher are
located. These stone blocks
are very interesting as the
mason’s marks are still


The producer-gas plant before ...

during ...

... and after clearance


Pumping engine base

Pumping engine area before...

... and after clearing


Our last planned task of the weekend was to clear the cutting to the standard-gauge
railway tunnel, which had become almost invisible over the years. This is a dead-end
tunnel where the wagons were loaded underground with ore to be transported away over
the Van Railway.

Railway tunnel approach before ...

... and after clearing

We were pleased to be able to make a contribution to the opening-up of the site, and
hope that our work will result in users of the footpaths being able to see the few remains
of this once great mine. We hope also that visitors will be able to learn a little of its
history from the interpretation boards which Powys County Council are preparing, and
which should be ready for installation early in 2015.



Graham Levins
London’s legendary New River, constructed mainly between 1609 and 1613 by the
famous Welshman Hugh Myddelton (later honoured with a Baronetcy), brought fresh
potable water to London, thus saving thousands of lives from infection by water-borne
diseases: even today it continues to provide London with water. From 1617 until his
death in 1631 Sir Hugh Myddelton replenished his wealth by mining silver from five
lead mines close to Aberystwyth in Mid Wales
For the momentous 400-year Celebrations of the New River, I was invited by Mike
Kensey, of the New River Action Group (NRAG) and author of books about Sir Hugh
and the New River, to represent the Welsh Mines Preservation Trust, and accompany
him on the day of the celebrations. The day began by visiting Stoke Newington in North
London, to see the New River Company’s ‘Castle’ Pumping Station and former Primary
Filter House.

1854-56 New River Company Castle
Pumping Station, Stoke Newington.

1934-36 Metropolitan Water Board (successors
to NRC)
Primary Filter House, Stoke Newington.


We then moved on to Clissold Park in Hackney, from 1811 the London home of the
Crawshay Family, the famous Welsh Iron Masters. The original course of the New River
passed through the Park until 1868-70, when it was cut off by works that shortened the
course of the New River from just under 39 miles to 27 miles. In 1889 the Park was
purchased by the newly formed London County Council as a public park. Their
successors Hackney Council have recently restored a surviving part of the New River in
the park, still filled with ornamental water. Various celebrations were due to take place
in the park in the afternoon, including a 400-year re-enactment of its original opening,
but other functions meant we had to rush on towards New River Head.

Clissold Mansion, with the St Mary’s
(New) Church alongside and the New
River in the foreground.

Restored section of New River in
Clissold Park.

Delightful modern recreation of the NRC Seal adorning the ornamental bridges in Clissold Park.


We then made our way to the New River Walk Canonbury (still with open ornamental
water), where events were still being set up. On our way along the New River Walk we
met ‘Annie’ the Water Carrier and a certain Hugh Myddelton (bear in mind it is 1613,
he has not received his title yet).

Towards midday we walked further on to Islington Green, to lay a bouquet of flowers at
Sir Hugh’s statue, in memory of him and his New River workers.

Graham Levins (left) and Mike Kensey (right) at Sir Hugh’s Statue Islington Green
[Photo Mike Kensey]

From Islington Green we walked to the New River Head at Clerkenwell, where we had
been invited to attend a re-enactment of the Opening Ceremony held there on 29th
September 1613.


Clerkenwell Primary School children

Face Front Inclusive Theatre

The performance began with a near-perfect rendering by the local Clerkenwell Primary
School singing their specially composed ‘New River Song’; this was followed by a
production entitled ‘Tales of the New River’ by the Face Front Inclusive Theatre. The
ceremony ending with the also newly created ‘New River Symphony’ in brass, loud
banging fireworks, and the singing of ‘Happy Birthday, New River ...’


New River Symphony

Then after a quick pint at the Myddelton Arms, Canonbury, to seal a successful day and
to toast the memory of Sir Hugh Myddelton, his New River workers and his Welsh
miners, we both headed home.

Graham and Mike would like to sincerely thank all those inspired to take part in this
year's exciting and creative events.

In May 2013 the Welsh Mines Preservation Trust held a Heritage Weekend in Mid
Wales as our contribution to the Anniversary celebrations. Over the weekend we visited
several of the mines worked by Sir Hugh, and the highlight of our commemoration was
a short service held at the ruins of the Chapel built by Sir Hugh for his miners in about
1620. Images showing this occasion can be found on the WMPT website,


[Text and photographs by Graham Levins, with additional input and photo from Mike Kensey]


John Hine

In the Winter 2012 Issue (No 217) of The Narrow Gauge, an article entitled ‘Underground
Outside the Forest of Dean’ was published by Rob Needham. One of the locations
featured was Lower Balls Green Quarry in the Cotswolds, with a photograph(1) claimed
to be of a First World War Hudson V Tipper Wagon. Some members of the Moseley
Railway Trust (MRT)(2) believed it to be the only surviving example. It was reported by
local mine explorers in September 2013 that the wagon shown in the above article had
been vandalised. In October 2013 a local explorer discovered on the Flickr website a
photograph(3) under the heading ‘Narrow Gauge Archaeology’ showing this wagon being
attacked with an angle-grinder. The photograph was removed from the Flickr site within
a few days.

(1) Reproduced above, by permission of Philip Howell (Gloucester Speleological Society)
(2) www.mrt.org.uk

http://robinsonm ap s.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-m ax= 2013-12-31T 09:10:00-08:00& m ax-results= 12& start= 17& by-date= false (under
date Friday 11 O ctober 2013)


On 18 November 2013 two members of the MRT were led into the quarry by Rob
Needham,(1) equipped with the tools necessary to remove parts from this wagon. To
quote from Ted McAvoy’s text below the photograph on the Flickr site, ‘Our aim was to
get it out in one piece but massive roof falls made that a non-starter – so we cut out the
key bits and lugged them to daylight.’
There was a massive outcry in the Mining History movement over this act of vandalism.
The Gloucester Speleological Society (GSS) and the WMPT both wrote letters of concern
to the MRT, expressing our concern over the actions of two of their members. A reply
was received from the MRT(2) attempting to explain why their members acted as they
did and stating that a MRT member had affixed a note to the wagon apologising for his
actions; he had also made a substantial donation to a miners’ charity. They went on to
claim that the parts removed had been returned and re-fixed to the wagon, which had
been ‘returned as nearly as possible to its original state’.
I possess photographic evidence from a GSS member who has visited the quarry that the
wagon has not been ‘returned as nearly as possible to its original state’: it is a complete

The NAMHO guidelines for removal of artefacts can be consulted at

In its letter to the Moseley Railway Trust the WMPT pointed out that there are
many rare artefacts in Wales that could fall victim to similar acts of vandalism or
theft if responsible bodies do not condemn such acts and take action to prevent them
from happening.

Anyone who sees people vandalising or attempting to remove items from
sites of historical interest should contact the police immediately, making
a note of any vehicle registration numbers.

(1) NMRS Newsletter, February 2014: www.nmrs.org.uk
(2) Letter of 12 December 2013 from the Secretary, MRT, to the Secretary, WMPT

Ioan Lord

The Caegynon and the Gogerddan mines in Cwmrheidol are just two of those lesserknown mines in the area which boast a detailed and interesting history. Caegynon was
the last mine in the long row from Dyffryn Castell, to work the famous Castell Lode on
its long journey westwards. The Castell Lode was a long branch from the Great Van
Lode, which brought much attention to Caegynon in the Nineteenth Century. The
North Lode at Caegynon corresponds with the Castell Lode, whilst the South Lode was
worked next door at the much more recent Gogerddan Mine. Gogerddan remains one of
those mystery mines which right up to this day holds a most intriguing legend.

Caegynon and Gogerddan mines in the 1980s. The forge remains roofed on the left, with the tips from the Engine
Shaft and Upper Adits directly above. Caegynon house is also abandoned, and the corrugated steel Compressor
House on the right obscures the portal to the Gogerddan Adit.

The famous Castell Lode from the east terminated at Rheidol United, where it split into
many smaller branches worked by those mines. Across the river, Caegynon Mine is the
first in the long chain going east from the valley to be sunk upon the Castell Lode. Two

lodes crossed the sett, North Lode and South Lode. North Lode (the Castell) was the
richest and the most worked; South Lode was discovered later and worked by the nearby
Gogerddan Mine. Caegynon was in existence in 1744, and was held by the managers of
the Mine Adventurers. The Mine Adventurers was one of the earliest companies to work
the Cardiganshire mines, directed by Sir Humphrey Mackworth and William Waller.
Although the Mine Adventurers owned ‘Cyginan’ (Caegynon) Mine, no work here was
done by them.
Around 1800, an adit was finally driven into the North Lode, and made very good profits
from it. This was what later became the Middle Adit. Around 1850, an Engine Shaft was
sunk on the same lode and was intersected by the Middle Adit a few fathoms from the
collar. A Deep Adit was driven in from the bottom of the hill as a short cross-cut around
the same date. However, it was stoped so extensively that it gave neither drainage nor
access to the workings after a few years. Whilst cutting the pumping wheelpit for the
Engine Shaft in 1851, South Lode was discovered, composed of gozzan, blende, some
lead ore and zinc. However, it only passed by the edge of the Caegynon sett and was not
worked extensively by this mine. A report in the Mining Journal in early 1851 stated that
‘in sinking upon the discovery on surface on South Lode we find the blende
diminishing, and lead increasing.’ Leats were duly constructed west from Aberddwynant
and east from Nant Bwadrain, bringing water from both directions to work the two
waterwheels. One of the wheels was to pump the Engine Shaft and the other was erected
for crushing. The crusher started work on 20th May 1851.
An old winze was rediscovered in (probably) the Middle Adit, and operations to clear it
were started on 13th June. On the sides of this old winze, ‘which has not been seen for
a very long time’, the six men clearing it found a rich course of ore, yielding over a ton
per fathom. Water shortage was the only thing holding Caegynon back: all the levels
were following rich courses of ore, and both lodes were yielding up to £20 per fathom.
Several readers had noticed the sanguine reports of Caegynon in the Mining Journal, and
Absalom Francis wrote that ‘mine proprietors have seldom been more fortunate than
those of this mine.’ He continued to say that as well as two ‘excellent courses of ore’, the
crushing waterwheel at Caegynon was ‘close to a cascade, over which a great deal of water
flows in winter, with a limited supply in summer.’ Afon Rheidol was to be brought in by
a new watercourse projected for the next spring. Oddly, Absalom and his brother
Matthew were the only shareholders of Caegynon during this time.
The Engine Shaft had been sunk 3 fathoms below the 10-fathom level by September
1852, on a course of silver-lead ore yielding no less than £40 per fathom. On 10th
November 1853 Absalom Francis reported in the Mining Journal that a new 25' × 2'
waterwheel had been erected for crushing. The rollers were 30 inches in diameter. The
old crushing waterwheel, only 20 feet in diameter, was transferred to the other wheelpit
to pump and draw from the Engine Shaft. Sadly, by December 1854, despite a 20-fathom
level having been started, things had turned against Caegynon. The mine was £190 in
debt, the artisans remained unpaid, and the property then stood idle for two months.
However, a Henry Weekes, who earlier complained about the money management of
Caegynon, admitted later that ‘I did not propose an abandonment of the mine.’ So, in

mid-February 1855, work was again recommenced at Caegynon with E. Stedman as
captain. The pumping wheel was turning again, and the Engine Shaft was soon clear of
water. Stedman immediately took action to order the construction of a plat, measuring
9 feet long, 13 feet wide, 8 feet high, in the bottom of the shaft. The latter was now 26
fathoms below adit, and a ladderway was installed from top to bottom. 18 men were set
to work in the Western Stope of (probably) the 10-fathom level, at £3/10/0 per fathom
wages. Six men finished the plat by 14th March, and were duly relocated to continue the
20-fathom level west.
Absalom Francis reported in May that as well as the 25' × 2' 6" crushing and pumping
waterwheel, a 16' × 2' 6" wheel was now drawing from the shaft. Both of these were now
being driven by water direct from Afon Rheidol. A ‘railroad through the adit’ (probably
Middle Adit) had also been laid, and preparations were made to continue the Engine
Shaft to 30 fathoms depth. Two kibbles were bought for £3 each in September, but the
stopes gradually started to lose their value. In driving the new 30-fathom level in October
1857, the lode enlarged to over 12 feet in width. Suddenly, when everything was starting
to look bright again, the owner of the Cae-Cynon Mining Company, J. S. Thompson,
presented a winding-up petition to the Master of the Rolls.
After the company was wound up, the new Cae Gynon Mining Company was formed in
early 1860. By 22nd March, the waterwheel was being re-erected ‘as rapidly as possible’,
as the owner was well aware of the ‘large quantity of ore already broken’ in the 30-fathom
level. Frustratingly, this company barely lasted two years, and the mine was again
abandoned for a short while. Another new company was formed to work Caegynon in
September 1862. The Glanrheidol Silver-lead Mining Company Limited was named after
the small mansion which Mr Bonsall built years ago near Capel Bangor. The Glanrheidol
company had 12,000 shares of £1 each, and was held under licence from Thomas Bonsall
Esq. After a G. Evans reported in the Mining Journal on the 8th March 1864, saying that
the Upper Adit had been driven through the lode (North Lode), the Glanrheidol
company also collapsed later the same year.
Yet another company reopened Caegynon in 1865: the Cardiganshire Lead Mines
Company. Caegynon – renamed The Cardigan Lead Mine – was worked together with
Pantmawr under this new company. Not surprisingly, this venture also collapsed in 1869.
One thing that the Cardiganshire company did achieve was to sink the Engine Shaft to
a considerable 50 fathoms below adit. The title Glanrheidol (adjusted to Glan Rheidol)
returned later in 1869, when the Glan Rheidol Mining Company Limited was formed to
work it. A John Hancock reported with the prospectus of the company that almost the
whole of their £20,000 capital had immediately been expended. As well as the Engine
Shaft being down to the 50-fathom level, the company were ‘provided with effective plant
and machinery’. Levels from the Engine Shaft had been driven at 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50
fathoms depth. Captain Sampson Trevethan, of East Bronfloyd Mine, wrote a letter
which appeared in the Mining Journal on the 24th November. Given that ‘a good body
of miners’ would continue to work the mine, Trevethan predicted that Glanrheidol ‘must
soon be supplying the port of Aberystwith with abundance of mineral.’ Trevethan wisely
recommenced sinking a new shaft ‘in the meadow’ west of the dressing-floors. This

meadow was between Alltddu and Glanrheidol Mines, where the Castell Lode apparently
split into many branches. Unfortunately, this new shaft was never sunk. This fifth
company to work Caegynon also collapsed in 1869; the last four companies had only led
Caegynon through nine years!
In early 1870, a sixth company was formed to work Caegynon. The Caegynon Lead
Mining Company Limited found it ‘necessary to get some good Cornish miners’ to work,
whilst the first ore of the company was broken in a winze below the 40-fathom level. By
5th April tramways with ‘large-sized iron wagons’ had been installed in the 30, 40 and
50-fathom levels. A skip road had also been installed in the shaft, with the skip able to
carry a maximum of 15 cwts per haul to surface. A tramway led from the shaft collar to
the ore chute, which took the ore down to the Middle Adit portal, to be tipped into the
masonry ore-bin. The four waterwheels on site consisted of:
No. 1 Wheel – 25' × 5' – Pumping and crushing, crusher attached.
No. 2 Wheel – 24' x 5' – Hauling and drawing, drawing machine and wire
rope attached.
No. 3 Wheel – 14' x 2' – Jiggers, buddles and dolly tub attached.
No. 4 Wheel – 6' x 1' – Double Riddle at picking slide attached.
Also on the surface was an office, smithy, carpenter’s shop, storehouse, powder magazine,
stable and coach house, and a machine house. Over the picking tables was a large shed
to offer shelter, and a variety of other machinery:
1 double-acting Gigging Machine.
1 hand-worked Gigging Machine.
2 self-acting Ore Separators.
1 Flat Buddle.
2 Round Buddles.
1 Dolly-tub.
13 Slime-pits.
The whole of the latter machinery, except for the slime-pits, was worked by the No. 3
wheel. Almost all of the extensive dressing-floors were enclosed by ‘well laid out’
masonry walls, and a Blake’s Stone Breaker was proposed to be erected soon.
Many repairs were made to the dressing-floors before 18th August, the date of the third
general meeting, which included repairing the No. 1 wheel, and installing a new balancebob and crusher adjacent to it. Stone pillars to support the wooden launders were in
course of construction by the meeting, whilst both leats were ‘put in good repair’. A sale
of over 40 tons of lead was made on 29th August, followed by a sale of over 73 tons of
blende. Both of these together gained £727 for Caegynon, as 15 tons of blende and 4 tons
of lead were also ready for market in the storehouse.
Business was booming, and by February 1872, a total of 74 people were employed, with
150 shareholders. A depth of 70 fathoms below adit had been gained in the Engine Shaft

by January 1875. There being 10 fathoms between the Deep Adit and the shaft collar, the
Engine Shaft was in total an impressive 80 fathoms (480 feet) deep. The 70-fathom level
east was reported as ‘promising’ in the Mining Journal by Captain Hodge on the 6th
January. However, the ‘conditional assent of the shareholders to the raising of additional
capital had not been responded to sufficiently’, and as a result the company’s funds were
very limited. This was announced in a shareholders’ meeting later in the month, and a
resolution was passed to wind up the company.
The next company to work Caegynon was formed in late 1876, when a letter from
Absalom Francis appeared in the Mining Journal on 4th September. He reported that ‘the
late Caegynon has been taken in hand by a spirited company’, who had re-opened the
mine as North Rheidol. By October, men were again at work in the 10 and 20-fathom
levels, as water was not yet drawn out from below the 20. Sadly, there were no further
references to North Rheidol after an argument between Francis and Sampson Trevethan
about water rights in November, and the venture collapsed very soon afterwards. Yet
another and final company was formed to work Caegynon in 1886, the Caegynon Lead
Mining Company. It held £30,000 in capital, in 30,000 shares of £1 each. However, after
this was announced in the Mining Journal on 8th January 1887, nothing else was
The mine lay idle for almost 50 years afterwards, until it was taken up in one final
venture which involved many of the Cwm Rheidol mines. This venture was led by Alfred
J. Hodgkinson-Carrington, and a D. I. Williams of Aberffrwd was working the smithy
at Caegynon during this time. Carrington formed the Rheidol Mining Corporation at
some time during the 1920s, and wrote a letter to S. Dawson Ware on 13th December
1927. Dawson Ware was another gentleman interested in the mines of Cwm Rheidol
during the time, but his relationship with the Rheidol Mining Corporation is unknown.
Nothing appeared on Caegynon until the Rheidol Valley Mining Company Limited was
formed at some time before February 1936. This company worked Caegynon and
Erwtomau to begin with, but very soon turned its attention to Caegynon alone.
Carrington appointed W. H. and A. L. Greenhalgh and a local man, Joe ‘Cyfie’ as he was
known, to manage operations. It seems that by March 1936 Caegynon was the only mine
still being worked by the company, according to the address at the top of several letters
sent by W. H. Greenhalgh to Dawson Ware. None of these gave any information on the
workings; only the intentions of the company were given.
At about this date a large iron hand winch was installed in the Middle Adit at the edge
of the Engine Shaft, to raise and lower a new electric pump which was placed even deeper
down in the shaft. By 1938 a large corrugated steel shed had been built at the Middle
Adit portal, but was apparently never actually used. Compressed-air pipes led up from
the dressing-floors into the Middle Adit, and a long ore-chute led down from the Upper
Adit and Engine Shaft to the Middle Adit. From here, the ore was loaded into a masonry
ore-bin to be collected down at the dressing-floors. The large corrugated steel compressor
house, which housed three electrically-driven horizontal air compressors, can still be
seen today beside the lane. Many of the materials erected at Caegynon by the Rheidol
Valley Mining Company were probably taken from the Erwtomau mill when abandoned

by the same people. Sadly, the venture of the Rheidol Valley Mining Company failed,
and the mine closed for the final time in 1939. Caegynon was one of the most recently
worked mines in the area, having been worked by at least ten companies.

Caegynon and Gogerddan, from a postcard of 1903. Both large waterwheels can be seen, along with the buddles
below the forge. Below the buddles and along-side the road, the slime-pits are clearly visible. The leats from both
directions contour the hillside on both sides of the mines.


Gogerddan Mine, or New Rheidol, was a small unsuccessful venture which took place
immediately east of Caegynon. The name Gogerddan is easily confused with the
Gogerddan Mines, which comprised Bog, Darren and Cwmsymlog at an earlier date.
The Gogerddan Mine in Cwm Rheidol consisted of a short cross-cut driven directly
behind Caecynon house into the South Lode of Caegynon Mine. Before the adit was
driven, a few costean pits had been sunk on the surface outcrop even further east.
Commenced in 1869 under the title of Gogerddan, the adit was driven northwards into
the hillside. As was advertised in the Mining Journal on the 19th March 1870, Gogerddan
was put up for sale along with North Bronfloyd Mine. The only information here was of
Gogerddan’s location, being ‘to the east of Cae-Gynon, and to the west of the Nanteos
Consols’. Gogerddan was soon purchased, and Absalom Francis reported on its progress
in the Mining Journal, on the 3rd January 1871. The Alltddu Lode was being followed

in the Gogerddan adit. The Alltddu Lode was the western extension of the Caegynon
South Lode. It was ‘large and well defined, and carrying at surface good stones of lead
and blende’. However, only two men were employed at Gogerddan, and progress was very
slow. But this did not discourage Francis: ‘if it is slow I am confident it will be sure to
lead us to success.’
Later on in the year, Gogerddan was taken over by the newly formed Silver Hill Consols
Mining Company Limited around October. It was on the 21st that the company’s
registration was announced in the Mining Journal: it held an impressive £70,000 in
capital in 14,000 shares of £5 each. The Silver Hill Consols company were ‘to raise
mineral in the Erwtomau, Llwybrllwynog, Gwaithcoch, Alltddu, Gogerddan, and
Imperial Mines.’ As with most of the other properties the company embraced, nothing
whatsoever was done at Gogerddan during the reign of the Silver Hill Consols. However,
Absalom Francis’ map of the Silver Hill Consols showed the Gogerddan sett lying
further east than the actual site of the adit. The map showed the main part of the
Gogerddan sett in the fields between Troedrhiwsebon and Pencnwch, whilst the adit lay
300 yards west at Caecynon house. What is of interest is that three different parts of the
Gogerddan sett are shown on the map. The main area was that just described, whilst two
other small areas also labelled as Gogerddan Mine were located further uphill to the
north. One was in the fields located between the brow of the wooded hillside and the
farm of Penrhiwgaer, whilst the other was a tiny little area on the wooded slopes of Allty-Gigfran below the lane from Ystumtuen. The latter section embraced the original Ty’n
Y Fron Mine adit, driven sometime before 1744. However, these two upper parts of the
Gogerddan grant did not display any lodes of value, and nothing seems to have been
done at either.
Not long after the Silver Hill Consols company collapsed in 1873 Gogerddan was
reopened as the New Rheidol Mine in 1874. No details of this venture are known, and
it soon collapsed. New Rheidol was again reopened as West Tynyfron Mine in 1878,
preceded by a few details given in the Mining Journal on 26th June 1877 by Absalom
Francis. He stated that a watercourse could be brought into this ‘valuable piece of
mineral ground’, whilst the adit cross-cut could gain backs rapidly by driving deeper into
the steep hillside. After this venture also collapsed, the mine was again briefly reopened
as Troedrhiwsebon Mine in 1881. The gunpowder magazine in the fields opposite
Caecynon was probably built around this date. The mine then lay idle for half a century.
In the mid 1930s, Alfred J. Hodgkinson-Carrington reopened Gogerddan Mine, as he was
already working Caegynon a few yards away. The company was the Rheidol Valley
Mining Company Limited, and much of the plant and machinery which was erected at
Caegynon and Gogerddan probably came from the Erwtomau mill, which was abandoned
by the same company around 1936. A new compressor house was built directly in front
of the Gogerddan adit and is still extant today. It contained three horizontal air
compressors, and a generating station was also built to supply the electric motors which
drove the compressors. With this convenience situated four yards in front of its portal,
the Gogerddan adit was equipped with the modern machinery of the 1930s. An air main
was installed throughout the adit, which drove pillar mounted drills driven by

compressed air, informally referred to as ‘widow-makers’. (The name is self-explanatory:
the dust from the drills would have serious effects on the miners’ lungs, consequently
making their unfortunate wife a widow.) A new tramway was also laid in the adit. On
leaving the adit the rails turned tightly left and ran on to a long concrete wall built
alongside the lane. The side-tipping wagons would have their contents discharged into
a parked lorry on the lane directly below this concrete loading platform. The Gogerddan
adit portal was braced by two tall abutment walls, on either side of the approach cutting.
The mine was still working the Caegynon South Lode, and the lode in the trial drifts
from the cross-cut was yielding some 10 oz of silver per ton.
The method of driving the drifts at Gogerddan was unusual, but sensible. One drift was
driven along the lode’s footwall, and another along the hanging wall, 15–20 feet apart:
both drifts were then connected at regular intervals by short cross-cuts driven through
the lode, thus separating the ore ground into cubes. Carrington’s mind was on the ore
that had formerly been left standing — all 10,000 tons of it! Apparently, an alleged
10,000 tons of blende had been left standing by a former company. The latter had
thought it best to return once the price for zinc had risen, and to take the ore away to
their advantage. In this respect Carrington was unsuccessful: he did not find his 10,000
tons of blende at all. To make things worse, as the miners walked up to the adit to start
work one Monday morning in 1938, they discovered that the adit portal had collapsed
overnight due to the heavy overburden. It was decided that reopening the heavilycollapsed portal would not be worth the cost, and Gogerddan was abandoned as it stood.

After passing Tí Melyn the lane, heading east, bends right to circumnavigate the large
Middle Adit tips above. The old dressing floors are situated immediately south-east of
the tips, where the old forge is now a private residence, Tí Gôf (‘Blacksmith's House’).
The floors have unfortunately been destroyed and garages made out of old mine
buildings, though part of a probable storehouse near the lane has been nicely preserved
and re-roofed. A tiny, ruinous two-storied building adjacent to the storehouse reputedly
crumbled down in a foreign earthquake in the late 1980s. Opposite these buildings, the
six slime pits are now a lay-by. The old Deep Adit is now lost, but very faint remains can
be seen of the pumping wheelpit, which drove flat-rods up the hillside to pump the
Engine Shaft.
No further remains of the dressing floors exist, but the earliest adit, Middle Adit, lies
open on top of the large tip slightly to the west. To reach the workings above the dressing
floors, the steep steps from Tí Melyn are ascended up the hillside and a right turn taken
at the stile at the top of the climb. This brings one above the large depression at the
bottom of which the Middle Adit lies, past a large collapse crater on the left, and to the
collar, not easily seen, of the Engine Shaft, some 480 feet deep.
From the Engine Shaft, an open-stope can be made out with difficulty at the beginning
of a deep, narrow opencut. The water from the Upper Adits cascades down the open
stope, which leads into the Engine Shaft a short way down. Walking along the edge of

the tips brings one to a cutting leading to the double entrance of the Upper Adit, at the
other end of the latterly mentioned opencut. Above the Upper Adits, a large open-stope
with a cranch near the top leads down to the adit below. From here up to the footpath,
the woods are full of extensive trenching for the North Lode. Some of these excavations
have the appearance of collapsed adits, with an associated grassy tip, but is very unlikely
that an adit was ever driven above the Upper.
Some 500 feet south of Caecynon house lies the square powder magazine in the corner
of a field near the river, well preserved as a sheep shelter and still roofed with slate.


The small, neat entrance of the Middle Adit lies in the back of a large depression at the
top of the large lower tip. The whole adit except for the stopes is quite low, and was the
first driven at Caegynon. The adit is a drift along a small stringer running parallel with
the North Lode, and forms a junction with it where the adit cuts the Engine Shaft.
20 feet into the adit, a wide junction is reached where a tunnel branches off to the left.
Continuing straight on, another tunnel branches off left whilst daylight can be seen
further along the main tunnel. The adit cuts the Engine Shaft, the source of the daylight,
and on the edge of the drop is a large 1920s hand winch, wonderfully preserved. It is
about six feet tall, with two winding handles and a brake lever. Wire rope on its drum is
still intact, and the winch originally lowered and raised an electric pump installed at the
bottom of the very deep shaft in the 1930s.


Behind the winch is a wall of deads blocking a drift along the North Lode. Spanning the
spectacular shaft ahead, heavy tramway rails cross through mid-air like a tightrope to a
cranch half way across the shaft. From here to the continuation of the adit opposite the
rails have collapsed, making access exceedingly difficult. Looking down, the shaft’s iron
rising main can be seen leading 420 feet down into the water. The continuation of the
adit opposite leads past many mineral formations and an extensive network of passages.


Both junctions from the Middle Adit, before it cuts the shaft, lead to one large stope with
a deep winze dropping down into water at Deep Adit level. The floor has been completely
stoped away westwards, and many timber working platforms can be seen below. The
Deep Adit level can be seen far below, but the stope ends abruptly after some 30 feet

Crossing the fence between the depression of the Middle Adit below and a collapse crater
on the left, the upper site is reached where the very dangerous Engine Shaft was sunk to
a depth of almost 500 feet. The shaft was sunk on the North Lode and this can be seen
by its long open-stope shape. On the southern edge of the shaft collar, the masonry
balance-pit can be seen, with the iron bearings for the angle bob still in situ.

On the other end of a narrow open-cut beyond the Engine Shaft, two drift adits, chestdeep in water, commence from a wet rock face where magnificent icicles may obscure the
portals in winter. The left-hand portal has remains of a door-frame, and both portals join
a few yards inside to form an imposing chamber on the North lode. A pillar stands in the
middle of the chamber, and the far end is backfilled where the lode has been stoped to

This small mine lies 100 feet east of Caecynon house, and can be located easily by the
concrete ore-loading bay beside the lane. In front of the large depression marking the
position of the portal whose collapse in 1938 brought about the closure of the mine, the
large corrugated steel Compressor House still survives in good condition and serves as
a shed for Caecynon house. The mystery of the Gogerddan Mine is interesting as well,
even though it might just be a local folk legend. Due to the unexpected collapse of the
adit in 1938, tools, wagons and machinery apparently still lay in the adit within, awaiting
the successful explorer who manages to gain entry. A mini-excavator was put to work in
1990 to try and gain access, but the challenge proved to difficult and was abandoned.
I am grateful to Hugh Ratzer for allowing me access to the Mining Journal and the George Hall Archive, including
the Dawson Ware papers, all of which have contributed greatly to this article.

Mine-exploring is dangerous. Exploring on the surface can be enjoyed by all who have
an interest in the past industry of Mid-Wales, but do not venture underground if you are
not experienced and properly equipped. If you have any questions arising from this
article, please contact me on
I will be glad to answer your queries.


mines, miners, and the Pontrhydfendigaid police, 1857–1860

Robert Ireland

Ceredigion Archives ADX/1405, acquired in October 2013 and not previously published,
is a small quarto volume, its blue-ruled pages measuring 231 by 181mm, bound in thin
vellum over pasteboards.(1) The first part of the book contains, on leaves 1–106, the
official journal of the Pontrhydfendigaid Police Station, covering the period from
Sunday 1 March 1857 to Sunday 26 February 1860; the second part, written with the
book inverted and beginning from its last page, contains, on leaves 116–107, copies of
general orders, memoranda and forms of return issued between 1 July 1857 and 4
November 1858 by the Chief Constable’s office of the Cardiganshire Constabulary in
Aberaeron. A loose sheet of blue paper, now inserted between leaves 53 (ending 13 May
1859) and 54 (beginning 14 May), carries, on its verso, notes dated 24 September 1861.(2)
A single small, neat clerical hand, using various pens and inks and occasionally showing
signs of haste, writes the entries in both parts throughout.(3)
According to an entry in Part Two of the book, the district assigned to the Pontrhydfendigaid Station was
Supposed to take in the parishes of Caronuwchclawd, Ystrad Meuric, Ysbyty
ystwyth, and the Townships of Gwnnws ucha, part of Gwnnws Issa and
Lledrod ucha
and comprised three beats:

(1) I am grateful to my brother Richard for bringing this book to my attention, and to Helen Palmer, the
County Archivist, for permission to publish the following excerpts and to reproduce the digital images.
(2) For the verso text see p. 2 fn. 1 below.
(3) In the transcriptions, the spelling, punctuation and capitalisation of the original have been preserved,
but its lineation has not been maintained. Irregular spellings are confirmed with [sic], editorial omissions
noted by [...]; faulty text is corrected in footnotes. Dates in the journal are given in two forms: up to Friday
13 May 1859 each page is headed with the month and year, while the day and date of each entry are placed
in the ruled margin adjacent to the first line of text: from Saturday 14 May 1859 onwards the year only is
written at the top of the page, and the day, date and month are roughly centred above the first line of each
entry (as can be seen in the facsmiles below). The Superintendent inspected and signed the journal on 13
May 1859: the change of dating style (but not of hand) immediately afterwards may have some connection
with his visit. In the excerpts printed here, where the reader cannot see the whole of the original page, the
date format has been expanded and regularised to day – date (with the superscript suffix almost always
used by the clerk) – month – year, placed to the left of the entry.

No. 1 – To fairRhos, ysbyty ystwyth, Pontrhydygroes Hafod and Back home,
No. 2 To Tre issa, Tynybanadl, Swydffynon, Tyndraenen; by LwynMalees
Mine to Tynllidiart, and home by Ystrad Meuric
N . 3 To Alltddu, and over the hills to Pantyfedwen, Mynachlog fawr, and
At least twenty officers — constables nos 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21,
25, 26, 28, sergeant no. 5 and Superintendent H. J. Lloyd — were attached to or visited
the Pontrhydfendigaid station during the period covered by the reports. Of these officers,
P.C. 17 is by far the most frequent performer, and a note on the title-page of the book,
dated Sunday 1 March 1857, gives us his name: Phillip Davies.(1) From 12 May 1857
onwards we meet him and his colleagues (usually no. 10 to 12 August 1857, no. 26
thereafter) visiting mines and mining estates around Pontrhydfendigaid and Ysbytty
Ystwyth.(2) Familiar names (the reader has already noticed one) leap from the page even
at a first reading:
Saturday 4th July 1857

[...] PC No 17 visited Lisburne Mines and ysbyty

Sunday 5th July 1857

PC No 17 visited ysbyty ystwyth and the Lisburn [sic]
mines found all correct at the public houses

Thursday 29th October 1857

PC No 26 visited great Abey(3) and BronBerllan Mine

Wednesday 11th November 1857 PC No 17 visited ysbyty ystwyth and the Lisburne Mines
Saturday 23rd January 1858

PC No 17 visited the South Bog Mines(4) and Cnwch

(1) A General Order from the Chief Constable, undated as to year but certainly issued after 1848 and
written in a different hand from that of the journal, occupies the recto of the loose sheet of blue paper
mentioned above: it reveals that Davies had at some time been demoted from First to Second Class
Constable and placed at the bottom of the promotion list for ‘irregular conduct at Dale’s Fair’. This was
presumably one of the ‘hiring fairs’ frequently mentioned in the Journal, which the police always attended
to prevent rioting at the pubs. Phillip Davies’s colleague Henry Davies, P.C. No. 25, was dismissed from
the force for being drunk on duty on the same occasion. (If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.)
(2) An apparently promising reference to ‘Frongoch’ in the entry for Tuesday 13 D ecember 1859 cannot
refer to the mine of that name: firstly, because mines are invariably labelled as such in the reports;
secondly, because at this time Frongoch was not being worked separately from the Lisburne Mines; and
thirdly, because the Pontrhydfendigaid police district stopped at the south bank of the Ystwyth. The
reference must be to the little settlement a couple of miles north-west of Strata Florida, beneath Craig
Frongoch, which could have been taken in on Beat N o 3, ‘over the hills to Pantyfedwen’.
(3) i.e. the Mynachlog Fawr district.
(4) The clerk uses ‘mine’ and ‘mines’ indifferently when referring to a single site: notice the variation
between ‘Lisburne Mines’ and ‘Mine’ in the entries printed on the next page. For a particularly
treacherous example of the confusion which may result, see p. 4 fn. 5 below.

Thursday 26th January 1858

PC No 26 visited Rhôsfair and Esgair Mwyn Mine

Wednesday 18th August 1858

PC No 17 visited Rhos fair and Hendrefelen Mines

Friday 17th June 1859

[...] PC No 16 proceeded from Llanavan to Lisburne
Mines thence returned to Station at 6 [...]

Sunday 5th February 1860

PC No 13 visited ysbyty ystwyth Lisburne Mines and
Pontrhydygroes and reports all correct at the public
houses of that place

Closer study shows that the little book contains information about the mines of the area
for which no other source seems to be known. For instance: given the number of public
houses between Strata Florida and Pontrhydygroes — the Star, the Lisburne Arms, the
Miners Arms, the Black Lion, and two Red Lions (Pontrhydfendigaid and Tregaron) are
mentioned by name in the course of the text — we might have expected that pay day at
the mines (Saturday, with the afternoon and Sunday off) would have been a decidedly
riotous affair. What I at least did not know was that police officers regularly attended ‘the
pay’ to keep order, as the following entries in the journal show:
Saturday 7th November 1857

PC No 17 visited the Lisburne Mines pay [...]

Saturday 6th February 1858

PCs Nos 17 & 26 in company(1) PC No 7 attended
Lisburne Mine pay from 3 to 8 PM during which time all
passed quiet

Saturday 6th March 1858

PCs No 17 & 26 in Company with PC No 7 attended the
Lisburne Mines pay from 1 to 6 P,M

Saturday 3rd April 1858

[...] PC No 26 attended the Lisburne Mines pay

Saturday 3rd July 1858

PCs Nos 17 & 26 in company with PC No 7 attended the
Lisburne Mine Pay [...]

Saturday 7th August 1858

PCs Nos 7, 17, 26, 28, attended the Lisburne Mines pay all
passed quiet up to 12 PM when No 17 & 26 left

Saturday 2nd October 1858

PC No 17 attended the pay at Lisburne Mines in
company with PC No 7 all passed quiet [...]

(1) ‘with’ omitted after ‘company’: compare the following entries

Saturday 3rd September 1859

PCs Nos 16 & 17 attended the Lisburne Mines pay in
Company with PC No 7 all passed(1) from 12 AM to 9 PM

Even the presence of the police, however, could not always prevent trouble:
Tuesday 12th January 1858

PC No 26 confered [sic] with PC.7. at hafod house, also
apprehended William Jones of Logelâs in the parish of
ysbyty ystwyth. Miner. and John Morgan of Cell Inn in
the parish of Llanfihangel Croydin ucha Miner Both
charged upon a warrant with Assaulting Thomas Evans
of Llethyr Sinod in the parish Llanfihangel Croydin
ucha, on the 2nd Instant(2) at the Lisburne Arms Level
fawr they were taken before W Chambers Esqr(3) who
admitted them to Bail to appear at the Llanilar petty
Sessions on 5th of Frebruary [sic] next

The morals of the lower orders were, as every good Victorian knew, disgracefully loose:
in 1846 Colonel Powell, M.P., the Lord Lieutenant of Cardiganshire (no less), had
informed a Government Commissioner that
the people are much disimproved since the Rebecca riots, which have tended to
engender a spirit of disaffection; the women are also immoral; that they are less
disposed to respect the old families of the county than they used to be, and are
less honest than they formerly were. Colonel Powell attributed the changes to
the influence of the mining population which had recently sprung up in this
neighbourhood ... (4)
He would hardly have been surprised, therefore, to learn of the following instance of
disimprovement amongst the mining population, who, as he seems to have conveniently
forgotten, contributed so largely to his income:
Monday 13th June 1859

PC 17 went on duty at 10 visited Pontrhydfendigaid
off duty at 1 PM went on duty at 6 PM visited Great
Abbey and Bronberllan Mines(5) Served a Summons in
Bastardy before Birth upon John Morris of Bryngorse
CaronuwchClawd, Miner to appear at Tregaron on the

(1) ‘quiet’ omitted after ‘passed’: compare the preceding entries.
(2) 2 January 1858 was a Saturday.
(3) JP, of Hafod.
(4) These wonderfully harrumphing remarks were made by W. E. Powell in conversation with Jelinger
Symons, possibly at Nanteos, on 23 November 1846: Reports of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the state of
education in Wales, command papers 870/871/872 (the infamous and heart-rending llyfrau gleision) of 1847,
Part II p. 79.
(5) i.e. the Mynachlog Fawr district and Bronberllan mine: cf. p. 2 fn. 4 above.

26th of July next to answer the Complaint of Margaret
Davies of Argoedfawr Caronisclawd, Single woman [...]
Until the passing of the Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act in 1872 metal mines were
not subject to Government supervision and reports of accidents were not submitted to
H.M. Inspectors. Without the Pontrhydfendigaid book we should not have known of the
following fatalities at Llwynmalus and Esgairmwyn: I present the second report, from
1859, in facsimile.
Wednesday 12th August 1857

PC No 17 visited Llwynmalees Mines where an accident
had occured [sic] and two men killed(1) also conveyed
information of the same to Llanavan to be forwarded by
PC No 21 to the Coroner

[ADX/1405, entry for 16 May 1859: reproduced by permission of Ceredigion Archives]
The sequel to this accident is described as follows:
Tuesday 17th May 1859
Inquest on the body
of E n Rowlands

PC No 17 attended an Inquest before J. M. Davies
Esqr(2) at 8 A.M an [sic, for ‘and’] Veiw [sic] of the
Body of Evan Rowlands of this Village aged 54 years
who Met his Death at Esgair Mwyn Mines on Sunday
the 15th Instant the Jury gave their Verdict of Accidental
Death [...]

A curious incident is recorded (with less than absolute clarity) in which a landowner
deliberately floods his neighbour’s land in retaliation for damage (unspecified) to his
own property:

(1) Understand ‘had been’ before ‘killed’.
(2) John Maurice Davies, of Penpompren Hall and Plâs Antaron.

Monday 7th November 1859

PC No 16 on duty from 6 AM to 11 apprehended on a
warrant one Edward Lloyd(1) of BlaenyrEsgair gwnnws
Charged by John Kemp with Breaking the Embank-ment
of a certain pond belonging to the Llwynllwyd Lead
Mines as the said Embankment was Situate on the land
of the said Edward Lloyd, the Case assumed the
Character of Dispute, as the Embankment was Broke by
Defendant to procure Damages for what Complainant
Committed on the Land of Defendant, Some
arrangement was come to between them and the
Complainant Declined attending before a Magistrate
unless Compelled to Do so therefore the Case will be
refered [sic] to G. W. Parry, Esqr(2) for his consent to
allow them to settle he being the person who granted the
warrant [...]

We leave the little book on almost the last surviving page of its entries, where we catch
sight of another pay day at the mines a century and a half ago. The year is 1860, and the
official report — again, more vivid in facsimile than in transcription — departs from its
habitual formality and breaks into phrases which make the scene, and its long-dead
participants, live again:

[ADX/1405, entry for 4 February 1860: reproduced by permission of Ceredigion Archives]
‘... a great Deal of Trouble ... they kept the place in an uproar’. No doubt there was, and
no doubt they did: many times. Remember them.

(1) ‘Tea dealer’, according to a subsequent entry (14 November 1859).
(2) George William Parry, of Llidiardau, Llanilar.


1936 – 2013

Rob Vernon

Jeremy Wilkinson, who died in May
2013, had a long association with Welsh
industrial heritage. Not only was he at
the inception meeting of the Welsh
Mines Preservation Trust in 1992, he
was a long-time member of the Welsh
Mines Society, who made him an
Honorary Life Member in 2011. Away
from mining he was a leading member
of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation
Society, and eventually became the
Society’s President.
Jeremy, however, will be remembered most of all for his collection of Welsh mines and
quarries references, primarily for Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire, which he
compiled at a time when the general use of computers was in its infancy. Ultimately he
had to write his own database software to assemble the information. He was a solicitor
by profession with offices in Manchester, and some of the data was obtained from
Manchester Central Library, which he would visit during his lunchtime break. Other
references were listings from archival sources in Wales as well as the National Archives
at Kew, London. Over the years, various mining and railway historians have consulted
that database, and the information gleaned has become the foundation for many a tome.
In many ways this data-base, now updated and administered by David Linton of the
Welsh Mines Society, is a lasting memorial to Jeremy, as it is now freely and widely
available on the Internet, and will be used by historians worldwide for years to come.
My personal memories of Jeremy are many. Both he and Alison were regular attendees
of Welsh Mines Society functions, until such visits became infrequent due to Jeremy’s
failing health. Those who knew him will have their own memories; but for me, I
remember so well Jeremy showing my son how to make pennies shine by placing them
in the acid mine water of Parys Mountain. There were more auspicious occasions, usually

WMS dinners, when Jeremy and Alison would share a humorous moment, accompanied
by a gentle chuckle. Jeremy was a kind and generous person, and future mining
historians will be indebted to him for his tenacious attention to detail and thoroughness.
Thank you, Jeremy.


1925 – 2014

Graham Levins
with assistance from Roger Shambrook

We must record the passing of a long-standing member of the Welsh Mines Preservation
Trust and the Welsh Mines Society, John Henner. John passed away in July 2014: he had
not been in good health for a number of years. He and his wife Ros were regular
attenders at the Welsh Mines Society field weekends. Unfortunately I never got to know
John very well; he was always very friendly and pleased to chat with everyone. John had
supported the Trust for a long time and always made a donation in addition to his
membership fees.
John Henner was born in Wolverhampton in 1925. When he was nine his family moved
to Oxford, where he was a choirboy at St Michael’s Church. He was a Bevin Boy, which
he was very proud of: this is where his interest in railways, mines and radios began. He
spent his working life at the BBC, at Isis Records, and as a radio instructor at Headington
I last saw John at George Hall’s funeral in 2013.
John’s family have given all his books to the Welsh Mines Society to be sold, with the
proceeds being divided between the WMPT and the Cambrian Mines Trust. My best
wishes and thanks to John’s wife Ros and daughter Jill for their kind gesture.



1924 – 2013

Hugh Ratzer
photograph by Jonathan Wright

George started a talk to the NAMHO
conference in 2011 with the following
remark: ‘I am regarded as a sort of
umbrella, giving younger members,
even though retired, a comforting
feeling that as long as I am still around
they’re likely to have a few years to go
yet.’ He was, as ever, very perceptive.
I have spent many hours underground
exploring and digging out abandoned
mines with George, and many hours in
his company wandering on the surface,
the last ten years also in the company of
his wife Nheng. George’s phenomenal
knowledge was always freely given, and
then usually backed up a few days later
by carefully researched typed notes sent through the post and signed ‘George’ with his
fountain pen. I know I am not alone in treasuring such letters.
My first real involvement with George was at Camdwrbach, a small mine near
Nantymwyn. George’s research had indicated that it may well have contained reserves
of blende that had not been of interest to earlier miners. After discussions with the
landowner George started to try to access the blocked adit to the mine. The portal was
filled to the roof with a mixture of peat and rock which had been washed in higher up the
workings through an open stope into which ran a stream. George elicited the help of his
sons and later two ‘local boys’, one of whom was myself. Work progressed: all the time
we felt that we must eventually reach the end of the blockage. Little by little we crept
ever closer to the flooded stope, gradually getting more and more nervous about the
quantity of water dammed up ahead of us. The other ‘local’ boy, who is indeed a born and
bred Tregaron boy and a close friend, decided that enough was enough and wisely
departed. George, then in his seventies, asked if I would be willing to work with him to
continue the project. I agreed, with some misgivings. There then followed months of
work, on and off, gradually making our way towards certain inundation. We built a
wooden walkway as we worked, taking it in turns shovelling and wheelbarrowing. We
always used a flat-ended shovel, and on one occasion, after I had suggested that we
change to a pointed shovel, George told me ‘We did some calculations in the past and
discovered that more material is shifted per man-hour with a flat-ended shovel.’ This

was, of course, true. We continued shovelling and barrowing until one day, after an
extended period of heavy rain, we returned to the mine to find our tools, wheelbarrow
and wooden boards washed away as nature finally completed our task. We did not find
any blende ...
We spent many hours in conversation. We spoke of politics and religion, and disagreed
on both. We spoke of jazz. We spoke of relationship successes, failures and confusions.
George told me about Nheng, whom he had met in the Philippines, and how she was
considering coming over to share his life. These months together forged a friendship that
endured till his death.
Last year a fellow mine explorer, after a very wet and strenuous day underground, turned
to me and asked ‘When can we decide we are getting too old for this?’ I laughed. Not
many weeks before, George had asked us to accompany him into Erwtomau Mine in the
Rheidol Valley to do some mineral evaluation. George was nearly a quarter of a century
older than either of us.
With such a vast palette from which to choose it would be difficult to highlight any
particular moment in George’s life. The phenomenal task of indexing the Mining Journal
will, of course, be one of his greatest legacies and the index will, it is hoped, shortly be
published. George’s archives of papers and plans, maps and notes, are safe and will also
be made available, but it will take some months to sort through them.
A couple of days before his passing we visited George in hospital. He was asleep. His son,
Tom, roused him and I told him we had some photos of Bacheiddon Mine deep adit
which we had taken the day before. George insisted that we helped him to sit on the edge
of his bed and we looked at the pictures on the laptop. As we were discussing the pump
shown in one of the pictures I mentioned that I wasn’t certain how far the workings went
beneath adit level. George knew, of course.
Later he insisted on being helped into a chair, and there followed a lively discussion over
a local mine which he had been planning to reopen. Towards the end of the discussion
George said ‘Well, I have run out of life to do any more, it’s up to you now: there are
details in my notes.’
After a while he asked us to help him back into bed, and after bidding us goodbye he
went back to sleep.
I only knew George for about twenty years, so I was a relative newbie in his life. Some
of you have known him for considerably longer and some less. One thing we all have in
common is that knowing George has enriched our lives. He will be sorely missed.
George’s life can best be described in his own words, so I have attached the talk that he
gave to the NAMHO conference in 2011.


†George W. Hall, October 2011
My first ventures underground were just before the war, in the stone mines at Nailsworth
and iron mines near Mitcheldean, both in Gloucestershire, but neither roused a serious
However, on the outbreak of war in 1939 my school, Wycliffe, was abruptly dispossessed
of its premises at Stonehouse, in Gloucestershire, by the Air Ministry, and, after, I
imagine, some anxious searching by the staff, reassembled in the premises of St. David’s
Theological College, at Lampeter, in what was then Cardiganshire.
Wycliffe was a rather unconventional school for its day, and between lunch and supper
on Sundays we were allowed to leave the school premises, and go where we liked,
provided, of course, that we did not fraternise with the local young ladies.
Everyone had a bicycle, so we were able to explore the countryside within a radius of
fifteen miles or so, and soon discovered the remains of several old lead, and one gold,
mine in the vicinity. On our occasional whole day holiday, we could get as far as
Cwmystwyth, a mine explorer’s paradise. We examined the mines in our outdoor school
uniform of green shirt, green shorts, white sweater and plimsolls, going underground
with the illumination of candles. No hard hats, of course. We later acquired a few coils
of farmers’ rope, which enabled us, after laying a suitable piece of wood across the collar
to act as a ‘pulley’, to lower each other down shafts.
At the time, of course, we knew nothing whatever about mines, not even the names of
those we explored, still less their history, or how deep they were.
I searched my local (Gloucester) library for mining books, but these were mostly of the
‘Romance of Mining’ type. I also discovered more substantial volumes, such as Hamilton
Jenkin’s ‘The Cornish Miner’ and Gough’s ‘Mines of Mendip’, but nothing much on
During the war we were expected not to spend the entire summer holidays in idleness,
but to make some sort of contribution to the ‘war effort’, and it was then that I first
experienced working underground. Of course I liked the idea of mining, and as my
grandfather knew one of the directors of the Lydney and Crumpmeadow Colliery Co.,
he was able to get me a temporary job at the Arthur and Edward, or Waterloo, pit, in the
Forest of Dean.
This mine worked the Coleford High Delf, a splendid seam of coal, about 4 ft. 6 in. thick,
usually with a strong stone roof, the lowest of the generally workable seams in the Forest.
It was reached by a fairly shallow shaft, sunk at Upper Lydbrook, from the bottom of

which a series of long inclines, ‘dipples’, followed the coal nearly to the centre of the
Forest, somewhere underneath The Speech House.
I had comfortable lodgings, as the manager’s wife put me up. He was one Arthur Miles,
tall, with rather bushy eyebrows. He was a man of very few words, but by all accounts ran
the mine extremely well. They had not been married long, and his wife, a very pretty
young woman, from Manchester, I think, hardly ever stopped talking.
Underground I generally went round with the official whose job it was to check the
ventilation so, as I took the notes, and kept him company, we were often in inactive parts
of the mine, I was of some use. Although, as I said, the roof was generally good, there
were places where the big steel rings had been so squeezed that we had to wriggle
through them sideways.
There is no gas in the Forest coal mines, so carbide lamps were used, and at the bottom
of the coal face, where shaker conveyors brought the coal to the tramroads, literally all
that could be seen were the little flames, and the whites of people’s eyes.
I remember standing by one of the underground haulage engines one day, when the
engine man asked me what I thought of their cat. I could see that my leg was being
pulled, in one way or another, but was at a loss until he pointed to it, curled up asleep on
top of the big motor. Owing to the vibration, the cat was a blur, barely visible until
pointed out. Presumably this strange perch was comfortable, but it must have been a cool
cat to require extra warmth in the depths of a coal mine.
Ponies were then still used underground, well looked after, I can assure you. They were
pretty clever, and would learn to kick the tongue (points) across as they went over it,
ready for the return journey. I was also assured that they could count. One handler told
me that his pony would take 12 trams. One day, having got behind schedule, and
knowing his pony, he coupled two together before hooking them onto the 11. All went
well until they got to a very narrow place, where the pony came to a dead stop. My
informant, at the rear, could not get past the trams, and was reduced to throwing pieces
of coal over his 13 trams at the back end of the stationary pony, to no effect. I can believe
these tales.
In 1943 I was called up. At that time one had the choice of army or mines. Of course I
chose the latter, and ended up at the New Dunn iron mine, at Sling, in the Forest of
Dean. This was convenient, as I then lived at Gloucester, where my father had a cycle
shop, so it was easy to cycle home at weekends.
New Dunn had then been worked by three generations of the Watkins family, but had
recently been taken over by the Ministry of Supply. They wanted to raise output, and did
not think that the Watkins’ had been trying hard enough.
These mines worked replacements by iron ores of the Crease limestone, a division of the
carboniferous. They were known in Roman times, and from the vast extent of old

workings, and the huge openings left in places, must have produced in total enormous
amounts of iron. These deposits are extraordinarily irregular, and twist and turn, and
expand and shrink, in all directions, so that in places one can follow corkscrew paths
which go under or over where you have just been.
I particularly remember on the third landing (the lowest workings), south-east of the
shaft, towards Sling Pit, there were huge old churns. We broke through into these with
a dipple from the first landing, following a seam of iron, and it was a spectacular sight.
Below us the old tramway wound its way as a trench through a great field of old deads,
while above none of our lights could show the roof.
Forest iron ore comes in several forms, ‘grey ore’, where the iron has only partly replaced
the original limestone; ‘brush’, which is like demerara sugar in consistency, high-grade,
and very easy to shovel; ‘flint ore’, again high-grade, but exceedingly hard, so that
putting the drill against it caused a shower of sparks, and, if the drill had not been well
tempered, instant loss of the cutting edges; and ‘colour’. This was a smooth clay, pink,
brown, red, or mauve, and the most valuable, though for pigment, not iron. Even in those
days it attracted a bonus of 5s. a tram.
I was told that a couple of years before I arrived at New Dunn a churn of brush had been
cut somewhere towards Sling, from which a party of men shovelled for eighteen months
from the same pair of rails, while it obligingly ran out of the roof !
The mines drain naturally to a considerable depth, but the water rises and falls with the
seasons. The Watkins’ had never attempted to fight the water, but had followed it down
in the spring, and retreated before it in the autumn. This change, as I saw, was quite
sudden, and once the water started to rise, you could see it creeping up the walls as you
The Watkins’ did not attempt ‘drive and cross-cut’ exploration, but carefully followed
any showing of iron ore, no matter if it were but an inch thick, in the hope that it would
lead to a big ‘churn’. One can see why the Ministry thought they could do better. But it
is wise to think twice before discarding traditional methods, evolved to suit particular
deposits and conditions. I doubt whether the Ministry’s powerful electric pumps made
any significant difference to total output, and none of their drivages through barren
limestone found much new ore.
Most of my time there was spent tramming. The second and third ‘landings’, where we
generally worked, went quite a long way north-west of the shaft, and required two or
three trammers, one beyond the other, to bring the full trams back to the shaft, and the
empties in. This could be a lonely job, as, between the sections, the trams were collected
in ‘pass-byes’, short lengths of double track, and one might not see another trammer, or
indeed anyone, for hours.
None of the local miners wore hard hats. They claimed that a man who wore one took
less care of the roof. A good many people would dismiss such an idea out of hand, but it

is a phenomenon which has been found to operate in such cases as seat-belts in cars, and
helmets for motor cyclists.
A knack that has to be learnt is how to get a tram back on the rails without help. But it’s
quite easy with the aid of a pebble, a short piece of pipe, and judicious use of the back,
and it can be done without the pipe.
On the third landing, when the pumps were going, this job meant soaked boots and
(corduroy) trousers. This I did not find comfortable. So I caused a sensation among the
locals, miners for several generations, by going to work with shorts under my trousers.
I took the trousers off underground, and trammed in shorts and plimsolls, no socks. This
resulted in very warm feet, and when waiting for a tram I stood in the water to keep my
feet cool! I brought a towel in a rucksack, and dried my legs and put on trousers at
‘breadtime’, and at the end of the shift.
It may sound unlikely, but underground, with my sandwiches, I found a large glass bottle
of cold, sweet tea delicious, and remember it now with pleasure. But I wouldn’t fancy one
I also worked in an end at times, or stoping (though that term was not used in the
Forest). We did not have the luxury of air-legs, so the machines were hand held. Even
in those days I found top holes to be almost too much for my strength. A question I never
decided was whether it was more agonising to push a hole straight up, or pull a machine
out of a down hole, when chippings had got into it, and jammed the drill.
Mucking out, shovelling the rock broken by blasting into the tram, is easy work, once
you get into the way of it, provided you put a ‘stricker plate’ down before firing, and have
the rails well up, so that your back is right against the tram. Even now I can still shovel
quite well, if the place is convenient. Under those conditions one can fill a tram with
little effort, and almost as fast as a rocker-shovel. If I remember correctly, I could fill one
in about four minutes.
Once you get a few feet away from the tram, and this was sometimes difficult to avoid,
when a seam of iron ore rises in front of you, and the driller, the senior partner, does not
want to waste time blowing up the floor, it becomes a form of torture. Mucking meant
a change from corduroy to moleskin, as the friction of hand against knee soon wore
through corduroy.
I have since realised that one useful thing I got from New Dunn was a practical
understanding of nineteenth-century mining, as, except for the electric pumps, and
jackhammers, the only tools we had which they didn’t were good carbide lamps. Indeed,
it sometimes appeared that the management had adopted the principle that nothing
should be done by machinery if it could be done by hand.
This experience has not only helped my understanding of past workings, but has made
me sceptical of those writers who paint mining in the old days as invariably barbarous

and appalling. Working conditions underground at New Dunn, if sometimes arduous,
were quite comfortable, dry, an equable temperature, and good ventilation. I cannot see
why it should have been much worse in Mid Wales or Shropshire, except where long
ends were driven without sufficient ventilation winzes, although it would have been a
different matter in the deep and hot mines of Cornwall, or in the deadly gritstone.
During these years I learnt a good deal about mining, and came to the conclusion that
lead-zinc mines in Mid Wales, which had been abandoned in the slumps of the 1880s and
1921, ought to be workable with the improved methods and tools available in the 1940s.
Now we had diesel generating sets for constant power, instead of depending on water,
which usually froze in winter and dried up in spring, electric pumps, compressed-air rock
drills, and rocker shovels. Flotation would give a much better recovery of a cleaner
concentrate, and would enable blende to be separated from pyrite, while lorries would
be a great improvement on horse-and-cart transport.
With end of the war I persuaded my father that it might be a worthwhile venture to see
if we could revive a Mid Wales mine. We accordingly called on R. R. Nancarrow, a
mining engineer then living in Yspytty Ystwyth, who had been manager of the Lisburne
Development Syndicate’s operations at Glogfawr, another of the Lisburne mines, from
1907, and who had later constructed the Gwaith Goch mill in the Ystwyth valley to retreat the dumps at Frongoch mine, which contained a good deal of blende.
We discussed many prospects in the area, but ultimately decided that, in view of our
limited resources, the best idea would be to re-treat the large tailings dump at Esgairmwyn by re-grinding and flotation. Nancarrow had sampled this in the 1920s, and
calculated that it amounted to 60,000 tons, with an average content of 2% lead metal.
Nancarrow certainly knew a great deal about the mines in his area, but subsequent study
of the Mining Journal has surprised me at some of the things he didn’t know.
We obtained a lease from the Crown, and Nancarrow drew up plans for the plant. The
scheme was to put a pair of rolls on a concrete pillar, with a large timber bin over it, fed
by an elevator. The throughput from the rolls would be screened, the coarser particles
going to a 3-compartment jig, the finer to a shaking table. The object here was not to
produce a concentrate, though we could probably have taken some from the table, but
to discard half the material as waste.
The reason for this was that we could not find a second-hand ball-mill, and a new one
would be much the most expensive item in the plant. By discarding half the feed we
could still expect to grind 5 or 6 tons an hour with a smaller, and so cheaper, mill. This
would work in circuit with a rake classifier, with the final discharge going to a 3-cell
Minerals Separation flotation machine.
We obtained a second-hand two-cylinder opposed horizontal Brush engine, and Nancarrow planned to drive most of the machinery by flat belts from a main overhead shaft.

However, we had not got far with construction before Nancarrow took a post with the
Opencast Coal Authority in South Wales, and left us to carry on.
In those days supplies of almost everything were very difficult, we suffered long delays,
and ran into a number of unforeseen problems. We broke the valve-gear casing of the
Brush moving it into place, and had great difficulty in obtaining a fabricated replacement, and the extraordinary winter of 1947 caused substantial damage and added to our
costs. As a result the job went way over budget, and we had to give up, and sell the ballmill, classifier, and rolls to avoid going bankrupt.
My father died in 1957, but I always maintained hopes of completing the plant, and in
1970 I was approached by Bob Gunn, a mining engineer I had met at South Crofty, and
who had moved to Tywyn, who was keen to help get the place going. We acquired a
second-hand rod-mill from the Clogau mine (and had a great day out moving it, with two
Land Rovers coupled together), and set it up in the place of the Hardinge, in circuit with
a curved wedge-wire screen for sizing. We made no attempt to commission the jig and
table, but fed the dump material straight into the rod-mill, and then the flotation unit.
I will not go into any further details of these operations, other than to say that this simple
layout worked well, and we were able to produce a reasonably clean concentrate with a
good recovery. We still had problems with rate of throughput and reliability. We could
have overcome these, but ultimately were forced to abandon the project under a threat
by the Rivers Authority to prosecute us if we discharged any water into the local
This discharge only took place when we were not working – with the mill running we had
no water to spare. In view of the fact that there had been a public Planning Inquiry at
which our experts were not questioned; where no serious objections were made to our
proposals; and where the Inspector had enjoined the Rivers Authority to co-operate with
us; while subsequently complaints have been made to the Environment Agency about
pollution from this tip, which would not have occurred if we had re-treated it and resited our tailings, this left a bitter taste.
The fundamental error, which cost me dearly, had been to adopt a too complicated, and
therefore expensive, design. We should have gone for a size larger ball-mill, with
classifier, and flotation only, not raising rolls on a huge hand-mixed block of concrete,
&c. Had we done so we would have been up and away in the 1940s, and with a nice profit.
While we were erecting this plant David Bick and his father Ewart came to see what we
were up to. I did not know David then, but his father and mine had met when keen
young ‘scorchers’ (cyclists) before 1910. David already had an interest in mines, and after
we gave up work at Esgairmwyn he and I started a long series of trips to explore old
mines here, there and everywhere.
David had a motor vehicle, which I did not: a 1928 Morris Cowley. It had been abandoned, less front axle and radiator, at a farm at Apperley. Besides being an exceedingly

clever hydraulics engineer, David was an ingenious mechanic, and, from being a wreck,
the Morris evolved into an effective, reasonably comfortable, and most enjoyable means
of transport.
David cut the back seats and boot off, converting it into the form of a small lorry, with
canvas roof over the back, so that we could carry our bikes, and other gear, and sleep
therein quite comfortably at night. Over time 0A05-in. was ground off the cylinder head,
a four-speed gear box fitted, also a higher ratio back-axle, SU carburettor, Simms
magneto, and eventually a bigger, Oxford, engine, and so on, all increasing performance,
until she became quite fast.
The brakes, however, were never much good, and I well remember when, descending the
Bwlch Oerddrws at high speed, we saw ahead a line of sheep, ambling across the road.
There was no way of stopping the Bickwaggon in the distance available, but fortunately
the sheep, all of them at the same instant, suddenly realised that this vehicle was not
going to stop. Those in front leapt forward, and those behind back. Spectacular, and just
in time.
Luxuries, such as a starter motor, and a mechanical windscreen wiper, were abjured (I
especially remember the wiper, as I once had to work it by hand all the way from Betwsy-Coed to Gloucester), and we rarely had a dynamo. But we could, and did, go anywhere,
wherever the map showed a track, either in search of a remote mine, or merely for
adventure. We did, however, on one or two occasions, have to let air out of the back tyres,
in order to get out of some steep Welsh dingle, where the back wheels would not grip,
and the efforts of the crew to push were not enough to get us moving.
During the 1950s we had a long series of splendid bank holiday weekends, on all of
which the weather seems to have been good (although one day we had to rope two Land
Rovers together to get through the foaming River Mawddach at Bedd-Coedwr), camping
in some remote Welsh valley with a variety of friends. Most of them had some sort of
interest in mines, and could be pressed into helping to dig out an adit, or to get down a
Sometime in the 1950s David and I visited the Vale of Towy mine, near Carmarthen, to
find, to our surprise that, far from being abandoned, it was being worked for barytes by
one Idris Treharne. He was one the last old-style prospectors. He never went anywhere
without a pick in the boot of his car, so that he could investigate any unusual appearance
of the ground. He would also, if there had been particularly heavy rain anywhere, walk
up the affected stream beds, looking for lode material.
It was with the pick that, about this time, he discovered a previously unknown vein of
galena in the Cynnant Valley, north of Llandovery. Unfortunately, in that part of Wales,
valuable lead deposits are only developed where the lodes pass through the grit beds.
Over the hill, at Nantymwyn Mine, once extremely profitable, the grits are about four
hundred feet thick, but at Treharne’s prospect they are only six or eight feet, not enough
to make a mine.

However David and I had an enjoyable, if arduous week, driving his adit there.
This golden decade came to an end one November day in 1959, when the Bickwaggon’s
3rd gear broke up, and the oil pressure, never much, disappeared. The engine was worn
out. David had just acquired a vintage Super Sports MG, and obviously wanted to work
on that rather than rebuild the Bickwaggon. Nevertheless, she was eventually rebuilt, and
still resides in a garage in Newent.
We continued to meet for exploratory trips, and camping weekends, but the advent of
wives and children made them less frequent
It must have been about 1950 that I discovered ‘The Mining Journal’. I had, of course,
seen references to it before, but examining an original volume at the Institution of
Mining and Metallurgy library, was for me, a life-changing experience. Here was all, and
more, of the information whose previous lack had so frustrated me. Not only that, but
I met an extraordinary collection of people, many of them rogues, including the Ghost
of Mrs. Bushell, as well as novel ideas, such as that the Matterhorn was a single gneiss
Miss Oblatt, then the I.M.M. librarian, was extremely kind to me, posting me a volume
at a time, so that I could study it at leisure at home.
A few attempts at looking through, and making notes of what I wanted, convinced me
that I had to make a mss index, and this, over the course of years, I have done. At first
I dealt only with the mines in the pre-carboniferous rocks of Wales and Shropshire, as
this was David’s and my chief area of interest, and we considered the carboniferous
beneath our notice !
The M.J. has been a source of endless fascination to me. It contains an infinite amount
of information on British metal mines. Not mathematically infinite, of course, but
practically so, as there is more material in there than one could study in a lifetime – that
is, if one has any other things to do.
In time I saw that to index Wales and Shropshire only wouldn’t do. So I started again,
and have now done (e.&.o.e), and cross-referenced, all the metal mines and mining
companies in the British Isles (including the despised carboniferous) from 1835 to 1921.
I hope to publish this index on two CDs, but am dependent on the people who have
generously agreed to type out my mss., not a five minute job, especially with my first,
Wales and Shropshire, index. This was never intended to be used by anyone but myself,
and is consequently something of a spider-inkwell-hieroglyphic tangle. But we now
expect to finish the first one this year.
David and I at first set out, with the aid of 2nd-edition 6 in. maps, the Mining Journal,
and other authorities, to find all the mines on the old 1-in. Sheet 140, Llandovery, a
fascinating task. This search soon acquired a bigger target, to produce a book on the

metal mines of South Wales (pre-carboniferous, of course), an area on which almost
nothing had been published, except for the Geological Survey’s sheet memoirs. David
was fond of making jokes about some future schoolmaster telling his pupils to ‘Get out
your Bick and Hall’, although it is difficult to see what sort of school would have so
esoteric a volume in its curriculum.
However, a few exchanges of material, when I sent a draft to David, and he returned it
largely scratched out, revealed that since we could rarely agree on the construction of
even one sentence, joint authorship was impractical. I therefore wrote, and in 1971
published, ‘Metal Mines of Southern Wales’, and in 1974 ‘The Gold Mines of
Merioneth’. Both have since gone through second editions. So all those great trips and
fascinating hours with the ‘Mining Journal’ bore fruit. David produced a much longer
list of titles, including ‘The Old Metal Mines of Mid Wales’ and ‘The Copper Mines of
North Wales’.
I made a serious attempt to avoid errors, but, a warning, failed in both books. David and
I had visited Talachddu, an unusual site, being a metalliferous lode in the Old Red
Sandstone, and had found there a gangue mineral which we could not identify.
Practically everyone we asked, some being in the mining profession, gave it a different
name. So in order to be certain I took it to a well-known university, who made an x-ray
powder photograph, which they said would give a sure identification. When they said
‘rhodocrosite’, it went, although I still felt uneasy, into ‘Metal Mines of Southern Wales’.
Some time after I gave a talk to the Cheltenham Mineralogical Society, passed my
specimen round, and asked if anyone knew what it was. After some hesitation one of the
younger members suggested it was rhodocrosite, and when I asked why, he said he had
read so in a book. By then, however, I knew better, and was able to tell him that I wrote
the book, and it was wrong.
When I wrote ‘The Gold Mines of Merioneth’ I said that King Charles I had visited a
gold mine in Wales, presumably Merioneth, in August, 1636. I had read a booklet by one
A.T. Vanderbilt, ‘Gold, not only in Wales, but in Great Britain and Ireland’ (1888), in
which the author gave a sufficiently circumstantial account of this visit to convince me
that he knew what he was talking about. But he didn’t. The book had not long been
published before I received a polite letter from someone at Oxford University who
pointed out that Charles never visited that part of Wales, and on the date referred to was
in the vicinity of Oxford.
Most annoying, but I had hardly been careless. However, in the second edition of ‘The
Gold Mines of Merioneth’ I stated that when breaking rock by means of building a fire
against it, ‘fire-setting’, the process was ‘usually assisted by dashing water over the hot
rock.’ That is incorrect, and I should have known better.
The curse of such mistakes is that readers assume that as the information is in print it
must be correct. Alas, it is not so. Others copy you, and errors are disseminated. How
many people still think that Sir Hugh Myddelton brought the New River from Ware to

London with the profits he made at his Cardiganshire mines, and that his name is spelt
‘-le-’ ?
In ‘The Gold Mines of Merioneth’ I had two targets in mind. One was to produce an
accurate and balanced history and description of the mines, there was then little more
available in readily accessible print about the mines than on South Wales. The other was
a hope that it would be read by someone who would have the resources and the
inclination to do some serious prospecting there. I published the book in 1974, and early
in 1981 I received a telephone call from a person with whom I had been working on other
mining projects, to say that a colleague of his had read my book, and wished to discuss
the possibilities with me.
I accordingly took the train to London, and met my colleague and Sir Mark Weinberg
at the latter’s offices. Sir Mark had obviously read my book carefully, as he asked very
pertinent questions. To simplify the discussion, he asked me which gold mine in Wales
I would like to reopen, and, for reasons I won’t go into here, I suggested Gwynfynydd.
Sir Mark bought the surface and base-metal rights from the owner, obtained a gold
licence from the Crown, and told me to get on and organise the work.
Research for the book had convinced me that statements to the effect that Gwynfynydd
had produced 40,000 ounces from 80,000 tons of quartz, and that therefore the ore
averaged 10 dwts. per ton, were grossly misleading. The truth was that a few hundred
tons of quartz had yielded 39,500 ounces of gold, while the rest of 80,000 tons crushed
had yielded very little. In other words, in the Dolgellau Gold-belt all the gold that
matters has come from narrow and discontinuous veins of quartz yielding more than 100
ounces to the ton. So, if you can see gold with the naked eye it’s worth working. If you
can’t, it isn’t.
This deduction has been verified by experience, and the numerous samples we took at
Gwynfynydd, yet many people still won’t believe it.
It is obvious that veins of this type require little plant, are easy and cheap to mine, and
enormously profitable, while they last. The problem is to find them, without spending
more driving tunnels in barren rock than the gold vein will yield, if and when you do
find it.
We do, however, know that these bonanza veins only occur at the horizon of the black
Clogau Shales, 300 feet thick, which outcrop in the form a reversed ‘C’ around the flanks
of the Harlech Dome. It also seems that the presence of an intrusive ‘greenstone’ on one
wall of the vein may be necessary.
I knew, as a result of research in the M.J., that Pritchard Morgan had discovered such a
bonanza in the Chidlaw Lode at Gwynfynydd in 1887, and that in the mid-1890s more
rich quartz had been found at the junction of the Main and New lodes, to the east. This
later discovery lay in the Vigra Flags, the next series above the Clogau, but at a place
where these rocks are of similar lithological character to the Clogau.

Our prime target at Gwynfynydd was therefore to drive an incline down from the main
adit (No. 6 level), to encounter the Main–New lode junction in the Clogau Shales under
the old workings, and this work was begun. While it went on we had the whole mine resurveyed and geologically mapped.
The geologists then pointed out to me that in the main adit, beyond the old Main–New
lode workings, there was a block of ground 50 metres long, between the faults that cut
off the Main–New lodes going west and the Chidlaw lode coming east, where the Clogau
Shales occurred at the depth of the main adit, and where an unworked lode, which they
thought could be the Chidlaw, was exposed in the wall.
We stopped our incline, and drove west on this vein until we reached a fault which cut
it off. We put out a cross-cut, and bore holes, in the walls, but, although it was a splendid
looking lode, with plenty of sulphides, we could not find one speck of gold.
We then explored lodes to the north in this block, but without any luck, and I began to
become alarmed. We were spending a lot of money in driving barren tunnels, an
expensive exercise, and I thought that at any time Sir Mark would phone, and tell us to
tidy up and go home. Why could the old miners keep finding some gold, if not much,
while we couldn’t see any at all ?
After much thought I told Robin Daniel, our contractor, to go back to the original drift
on the Chidlaw, and strip another 5 feet off the footwall. Robin said he was sure we had
been on the footwall, which past records indicated was the right place to look, all along.
I said that nevertheless we should do it, and in a few yards we came across a little vein,
not much more than ¼ in. thick, but full of gold.
We then went after this by sinking a winze from the main adit, cutting the lode 40 feet
deeper. There we had a magnificent vein, only a couple of inches wide, but carrying a
great deal of gold, certainly 100 ozs. to the ton. This, in situ wet, looked as though it had
been painted with mustard. I had heard this expression used, but had never really
expected to see such a sight myself. When I did, I realised how appropriate the words
Unfortunately I left Gwynfynydd in the summer of 1984. After we found gold Sir Mark
appointed a manager, leaving me with no particular role, and when I let it be known that
I thought the mine was being worked in the wrong way, I was asked to go.
Before leaving Gwynfynydd I would remark that we once had a conversation about the
plant we had erected, underground, for extracting gold, and, later, galena and blende.
This had been subjected to several modifications, and someone remarked : ‘No industrial
archaeologist coming here in a hundred years time is going to be able to decipher this


When I started exploring mines, in the early 1940s, although, of course, anything saleable
in the way of plant had gone, they were otherwise as they had been when the last shift
worked. In fact, Nant Iago, in the upper Wye Valley, had been left absolutely complete,
everything was there. I afterwards met Mr. Onslow, who had been one of the owners, and
he told me that they had suspended the mine in 1921, when blende was virtually unsaleable, intending to return when market conditions improved. But this did not happen
until it was too late.
I have always maintained, to anyone who would listen, that the most interesting, and
historically important, mine sites are not those with the most impressive built remains,
but those which had been least disturbed, because those are the ones with the most
valuable story to tell. But I have the impression that, while great efforts have been made
to preserve old mining buildings, sites without such have been regarded as of no interest
and importance, and have been, and continue to be, thoughtlessly destroyed.
In Mid Wales there is hardly a mine which someone has not been paid (out of taxpayers’
money) to wreck. David Bick used to say of mines, ‘They’re usually older than you
But in my lifetime most of the surface evidence of ancient working, and its history, has
been bulldozed away and lost forever.
Of course I like to see engine-houses preserved, and I think that what has been done in
Shropshire by the Shropshire Mines Trust and the Council is splendid, or will be once
the Snailbeach ‘M’ has been put right. But engine-houses, though good to look at, rarely
tell us anything we don’t already know. There is usually a written record of the size and
type of engine, and the date of its installation. What else do we need ?
An undisturbed mine site, however, be it only a modest arrangement of waste heaps, may
not only be much older than we might at first suppose, but can tell a story that cannot
be found elsewhere. If any sites are of historical importance, and are worthy of
preservation, it is those which are older than recorded history, and I would therefore like
to suggest that our various Societies prepare lists of such sites in their districts, publish
them, and keep a vigilant watch thereon.
To review my ‘Obsession with Mines’, it may be expected that a school boy, exploring
some wet and winding tunnel with the light of a candle, gets a thrill from venturing into
the unknown. What is around the next corner? But I, for one, from the start wanted to
know much more about the mine workings and their history. As I’ve said, the discovery
of the ‘Mining Journal’ changed my life, because here was a great mass of material which,
when sufficiently dug into, was going to give me the answer to most of the questions I
wanted to ask. It gives me and, I suppose, all of us satisfaction to add to the library inside
our heads, and we get pleasure from being able to call to mind the layout and history of
some old mine, the efforts of those who laboured therein, and the fortunes of those who
lost or gained money by adventuring in them, a record of human endeavour.


And, of course, it is satisfying to hold the first, clean, copy of a new-printed book the
cover of which carries one’s name !
But don’t let us get too serious. Mining history, unless we refer to a study of a mine to
see whether it still has the potential to be productive, is of negligible importance. It is
really only a hobby, albeit an enjoyable one.
There are people who consider that every fact is important. I don’t agree. There are a
great many collected facts about British mining history (and other subjects) which are
not of any importance whatever. But the garnering and examination of them not only
provide material for amiable conversation, but give us a pleasure for life. Mining has not
made me rich, but it would be churlish to regret this, and, besides this pleasure, the
exploration of mines has taken me to many beautiful places which I would probably not
otherwise have visited.
I am now of an age which many of you must consider not just old, but antique. But I get
as much enjoyment as ever from mining research, pottering round some old mine, trying
to work out why this is there, and what that was. I may yet produce another book, and
one thing that prevents me from leaving this world behind is that there is always something that I really must investigate tomorrow.

George William Hall
14.ix.1924 – 14.vii.2013
photograph by Jonathan Wright



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