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Ymddiriedolaeth Cadwraeth Mwynfeydd Cymru

Summer 2017


Work in progress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2


Nigel Chapman: Cwmbyr excavations 2016 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3–7

Ioan Lord: The dressing floors at Melinllynypair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8–12

Brian Davies: The ‘Hetty’ winding engine at Pontypridd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13–17

Léon-Vivant Moissenet, translated by Robert Ireland: The Lisburne Buddle . . . . . . . . . . 18–37

Notes for contributors: future publications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

Subscription form . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . at end

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WORK IN PROGRESS spring–summer 2017

CWMBYR This year has been spent excavating the Office buildings
opposite the mine remains. We soon
found a plaster floor with items of
ironwork and parts of a Blow
George. Nearby was a brick-built
bread oven, suggesting that the
building had been used as a
dwelling. Nearby on the floor was a
blacksmith’s bellows in fine condition, complete with its metal nozzle (usually known
as the ‘tuyère’).

LLYWERNOG The overhaul of the Museum is almost complete, and a further
exhibition space has been
opened in the crusher house,
where visitors can see a
reconstruction of a Victorian
mine captain’s table, complete
with (facsimile) documents and
(real) ledgers: fragile items
such as hats and wheelbarrows
are also displayed here. Work continues on restoring waterwheels and launders to full
working order, and it is hoped to have the Penrhyngerwen jigger running before the end
of the year. A balance-box is to be reconstructed below the 50-foot wheelpit, tramways
will be laid in various areas of the mine, and the main shaft headframe is to be restored.

CAECYNON Work here is at a enforced standstill while the field is under
grass. The reconstruction of the roof is
now complete, and the interior
woodwork will be restored when access
is once more possible. The enamelled
notice-plate required by the Explosives
Acts, originally fixed to the (now
missing) door, has been discovered at
Llywernog, and a replica will be
attached to the new door when it is fitted.

Volunteers are always needed to help with work at these and other sites: Melinllynypair, Rheidol
United, and perhaps Imperial/Pantmawr await our attention. Nigel Chapman and Ioan Lord
will be happy to provide information, and a provisional programme of working days will appear
in the next News Sheet.


Nigel Chapman

Most of the 2016 season was taken up with the excavation of the stone wall separating the
upper level of the dressing floors from the buddle area. The wall, while shown on the 1st
edition OS maps, has proved to be fragmentary and built on very slight foundations. In
places a thickness of nearly a metre has been found, yet the lumps of shale were placed
in a very haphazard way with no mortar or real attempts at foundations.


The east-west section consists of two parallel walls from the upper dressing floor to the
edge of the local stream. Built above the north wall is a horizontal timber secured in
position by two piles consisting of small tree trunks. Further to the north of the west wall
a third timber pile has been driven into the ground. We are aware of a fourth water wheel
on the site and it was used to drive dressing floor plant. It is suggested that the fourth
wheel was mounted above this horizontal timber beam. With no pit for the wheel to be
placed in, then it must have been carried in an ‘A’ frame between the shale walls,
therefore up in the air. Because of the poor nature of the walling, it is suggested that
some form of timber spillway was constructed between the shale walls to conduct the
used water to the local stream. At present no other possible mounting for this wheel has
been identified; unfortunately only one timber beam remains in place. Attempts to find
the south side of the mounting have proved nothing.

The shale built wall continues in a northerly direction for about 15 metres to form a
boundary between the higher level of the dressing floors and the buddles. Now standing
at about 50 cms. high, the wall has been used to dump waste slimes from the buddles
against. Orange, grey and brown colours in the slimes were found on top of a ground
level of a buff creamy colour mixed with small pieces of shale. This very hard layer has
been interpreted as the natural ground surface. Much of the slimes deposits appear to
have been dumped, but some also could have been blown against the wall by the wind.
A noticeable feature is that in two locations distinct humps of slimes have collected
against the wall, suggesting that wooden launders from the square settling tank passed
over these points. Either the launders leaked or overflowed at times to create the humps.
After the closure of the mine, shale pieces were blown over the wall to form a sloping area
concealing the slimes. Within this shale material some large pieces of tarred roofing felt
were found. These would have originated from the roofing over areas of the dressing

Few pieces of iron have been found during this excavation, a few nails and a square rod
being the sum total. One broken clay pipe was found and two pieces of a green glass
bottle. During the 1970s forestry activities, much of this area was roughly ploughed
cutting tracks thorough the wall. To the north this wall is noted on the map as turning

west then turning back north. At this point the forestry plough has cut a track. Because
of this action the wall has disappeared leaving very little sign on the ground. This area
could do with further excavation.


Two metres west of this point the small water wheel pit is located. Two vertical tree
trunks were driven in the ground to support the bevel gears from the wheel. Clearing this
area to find any remains of this power system, a pipe line of earthenware was located.
Four pipes were excavated, still connected together and full of slimes, while others in the
pipe run had been either smashed or removed. The alignment of the pipes pointed
towards the buddles, passing between the wall and the east side of the buddles. An
excavation put in, soon located the ring of the north buddle and a drain cut into the
walling of the buddle to take the waste water from the slimes and deliver it into the pipe
system. This also proved that the buddle wall was built on a wooden curb which was
probably levelled before the construction of the walling. Water from the buddling
process flowed down to the drain in the wall and dropped into the earthenware pipe
system which had a hole cut through at this point. Nails driven into the wooden curb
suggested that a small vertical wooden door was placed here to prevent the water
escaping. When required the door could be lifted to remove the waste water into the
pipes and away to the local stream. No method of pollution control has been found, so
the particles of lead must have floated into the local waterways.


Within a rough shale slab
rectangular pit are found the
remains of a small water wheel.
It is believed to be 8 feet in
diameter and made of wood.
Aligned north to south the wheel
had a series of bevel gears to a
horizontal rod also aligned north
to south to drive the two
buddles. Several vertical posts
can be found along the line of
this power take-off. This system
was fitted to the east side of the
wheel. While on the west side of the wheel an iron serrated circular drive is fitted. Being
placed on the side of the wheel nearest to the stream, has asked questions about its use.
Was the wheel second hand coming with this drive already fitted or was a secondary
system driving plant on the buddle or dressing floors area? In the correct area for a
secondary drive is a single wooden post, which could have supported a rod for such a use.
Further work is needed here.


The finding of these earthenware
pipes resulted in a reappraisal of
a previous short run of pipes on
the dressing floor to the west of
the crushing mill. At this point
four earthenware pipes had been
placed to take water from the
series of wooden channels and
deliver it into the local stream.
The wooden channel was
reinforced with shale slabs under
the pipes and a hollow created
for the pipe to fit into. It would
appear that the water built up until the channel was filled then drained away into the
earthenware pipes. The wooden channel continued to the north until it terminated above
the overflow from the crushing mill water wheel. Water flowed into the overflow and
away into the stream. The overflow from the crushing mill runs east to west and
commences as a shale arch along side the mill. This turns into a wooden channel
continuing to the stream. It formerly continued over the stream, over the culvert and can
still be seen in the opposite bank. It ought to be noted that according to the 1st edition
OS map a culvert was erected over the stream to create a large levelled area for the
dressing floors. In more recent times all of this construction has been washed away by
the stream or collapsed into it. The remains of the culvert construction can be seen in the
west bank of the stream. Much in evidence is the rectangular wooden structure of the
channel from the crushing mill water wheel.


Much of the 2014–15 season had been taken up with excavations in and around the
crushing mill building. One early surprise was the finding of two floor levels in the mill.
The floor of the mill was buried under about a metre of blown-in shale pieces, mine
waste and collapsed material of the building.

The upper level consisted of fine ground grey lead waste with areas of brown iron traces.
Much of the iron had been deposited from water and formed dried pools and shapes in
the waste. Very hard to excavate, the waste had a depth of about one metre. Into this floor
four posts had been driven: two still retained wooden posts, while the other two had large
shale stones placed into them. These wooden posts were placed in line with the axle of
the water wheel, suggesting that they helped to carry the weight of the crushing rolls. A
doorway one metre wide was placed in the north wall with large timber slabs as the
threshold. Two timbers projecting from the east (waterwheel) wall had two long vertical
iron rods through them with large nuts at floor level. These had been used to secure
machinery in the mill. Each of these rods was placed either in the north or south corners

of the mill. To the west the lower floor was one metre below upper floor level, appearing
to have been cut down to the natural ground level. Enough wood and nails were left to
suggest some form of wooden fence was placed along the edge of the different floor levels.
Four wooden posts projected from the lower floor level, again suggesting the support of
machinery in this area. One suggestion was the mountings for a classifer to feed the
crushed ore into the jiggers. Much of the lower floor was covered with fine ore and waste
from the mill. Water and wind had deposited this material in waves over the area, some
being of brown to orange colour with areas of grey, making quite a colourful display. Into
these colours were areas of a black oily substance, suggesting grease and oil from the
machinery. Mixed in with everything were some clumps of what appeared to be wool,
probably from the use by sheep of the mill building as a shelter. Against the south wall
of the mill at this level was what appeared to be a wooden door laid on the ground,
almost as a walkway for maintenance activities. It has been suggested that the wooden
walkway was once part of a farm cart. A couple of iron hinges and straps were securing
the wooden planks of the walkway.


The wooden jigger box took up much of the west side of the mill building. The wall of
this side of the mill appeared to have been either open or closed in with timberwork. The
structure of the jigger was placed on the alignment of the mill building and just outside
it. Whatever formed the wall of the west side of the mill originated from a wooden
sleeper beam sunk in the ground. With most of this elevation taken up by the jigger plus
the series of boxes on each side, access into the mill must have been difficult. To the
south a wooden door has been used to form a walkway probably for maintenance. On the
north a wide wooden threshold lead into the mill. Under this threshold a wooden square
channel took water from the mill into a system of wooden channels on the dressing
floors. It would appear to be a method of taking lead concentrate to the settling box D
without further processing before separation on the buddles. In the middle of the east
wall of the jigger is a semi circular wooden wall protecting a drain which runs under the
jigger body.


Over the weekend of 16–17 April 2016 Rob Vernon with his wife Boo brought a Fluxgate
Gradiometer to the site to conduct a magnetic survey over the dressing floors. Quite a
series of squares were constructed with thin ropes and coloured pegs across the area to
the north of the crushing mill and some interesting (as Rob calls them) anomalies were
located, particularly a large area just to the north of the crushing mill. On April 17 a
survey was undertaken of the area believed to be the site of the turbine winding plant.
This was bulldozed during the forestry planting period, being now under the road into
the site. Two large anomalies were located and have been marked for further
investigation. Unfortunately, these anomalies are probably buried under several metres
of shale.

It proved an interesting exercise in magnetic survey work with some curious results
suggesting areas of the site worth further investigation. One of the features of the
excavation has been the apparent lack of ironwork, nails, washers, odd shaped pieces of
metal, while the survey has found plenty of magnetic hot spots worthy of further
excavation. Many thanks to Rob and Boo Vernon for the survey and the written report.
Come back again folks, we can find other areas to survey.

[The following note is repeated from our last Newsletter. Members of the Trust are not, of cou rse, amon gst
the offenders: but if they hear of anyone who is proposing to visit the min e privately, the D irectors wo uld
be grateful if this warning could be drawn to their attention. The Trust is absolutely dependent on the
continuance of goodw ill am ongst land owners and local resid ents for continued ac cess to the site .]

We have been advised that there have been a number of visitors to Cwmbyr Mine. Please note that
the mine and the access road are on private land. The increase of vehicles in this very rural area
is causing concern.

If you wish to visit Cwmbyr Mine, please contact the Trust by email — — or phone 01293 510567 / 07880 817370, and we will
arrange a visit for you.

Thank you. Graham Levins, Secretary, WMPT


Ioan Lord

Melin Llyn y Pair remains a badly-documented mine, with very few details available on
the extent of the dressing floors located below the Engine Shaft. The area has been
seriously damaged since the closure of the mine, and except for the essentially complete
smithy (6 in Fig. 1), only a few building fragments remain. This interpretation has been
complied by a study of the features discovered by the Welsh Mines Preservation Trust
during its excavations in 2016, using information from old photographs, maps and
articles found in the Mining Journal and other sources.

The first waterwheel and crusher was erected at Melin Llyn y Pair in 1851 (4), and
another crusher and a drawing machine were added above it in 1859, driven by a second
waterwheel (3). By the formation of the Aberdovey Mines Company Limited in 1870, the
dressing floors had almost reached their largest extent; an engraving from the same year
appeared in the Mining Journal, illustrating the dressing floors as they stood at this time.
This has been used as the main source for the identification of buildings on site in 2016.
Shortly after this date, a two-story office block was built beside the waterwheel shown
at 8, as well as an additional round buddle and machine jiggers between waterwheels 3
and 4. The dressing floors ceased operations in 1872, followed by the winding-up of the
Aberdovey Mines Company two years later.

Fig. 1: Engraving of M elin Llyn y Pair in 187 0. Nu mbers corresp ond w ith references in the text

The Engine Shaft (1) was sunk to a 42 Fathom Level, or 55 from surface, and was
intersected by the Shallow Adit which enters the hillside at the shore of a large pool.
This lies a few yards north of the dressing floors, whilst another adit — Little Day Level
— entered the hillside to the south of the floors. The alignment of the balance-pit, on
the Engine Shaft collar, seems to line up with the wheelpit at 4, suggesting that this was
the pumping waterwheel.

Two means of drawing were used in the Engine Shaft, both of which are shown in Fig.
1. The earlier method employed a whim at 2, which was probably horse-powered. A
flattened area, found in the trees just west of the shaft, almost certainly corresponds with
the location of this whim. The new method which replaced the whim — though this was
evidently still in position in 1870 — was a drawing machine attached to the waterwheel
at 3. From the machine, a wire rope ascended the hillside to the sheave wheel on the
Engine Shaft headframe, and raised and lowered the kibble. The building on the right
(south-east) side of the very ruinous wheelpit was excavated by the WMPT in July 2016,
and contained the walled housing for a winding drum, proving it to be the 1859 drawing
machine house.

The adjacent building on the left (north-west) side of the same wheelpit is also extremely
ruinous: excavation of the area immediately behind the building, however, proved that
this was the 1859 crusher house and revealed a unique feature below the main ore-bin.
There is a levelled area between the two ore-bins (immediately in front of the Engine
Shaft) and the back of the crusher house; this area formerly accommodated the picking
floor, from which the hand-picked ore stuff was passed down a chute into the
waterwheel-driven crusher
rollers. The picking floor at
Melin Llyn y Pair was found to
retain much of its stone-slab
flooring, which extended from
the ore-bin door to the back of
the crusher. At the point where
the picked ore would have been
passed into the (now largely
destroyed) crusher house, a
semi-circular wall of 18" depth
was set into the picking floor,
enclosing a small semi-circular
platform directly overlooking
the rear of the crusher house.
Most of the floor of this
platform survives (see Figs 2
[above] and 3), and comprises seven neatly-fitted wooden planks of varying widths. The
structure has been interpreted as an intermediate ore-bin, into which hand-picked ore
was discharged to await crushing. When the crusher was running, the ore collected on
the platform could be swept off the deck and into the crusher chute.

Fig. 3: the interm ediate ore-bin:
drawing and crushing wheel-pit above

Out of the two main ore-bins behind the picking floor, one survives in reasonable
condition. Calculations made by Prof. David James found that each bin would be capable
of holding 100 tons of ore, but such an amount was very unlikely to have ever been stored
there (see Fig. 4, below).

Fig. 4: sections and plans of
ore bins

The first crusher at Melin Llyn y Pair, installed in 1851, was constructed nearer to the
stream than the 1859 crusher which replaced it at a higher level. The lower crushing and
pumping wheelpit (4 in Fig. 1) now lies beneath a hydro-electric power station built in
the early to mid twentieth century. The crusher house was built on the south-east side
of the wheelpit, and attached to its outer wall was a small building which probably served
as a store. This wheel also had a dual purpose, and simultaneously operated the three
round buddles which were positioned on its left (north-west) side. Six slime-pits were
placed immediately south-west of the buddles and the waterwheel, on the bank of Afon
Dyffryn Gwyn, whilst Fig. 1 shows a set of five hand-operated jiggers at 5. The whole
area of the buddles, jiggers and slime-pits was bulldozed when the hydro-electric scheme
was built, and no traces remain on surface.

The one building on site which remains intact is the old smithy, shown at 6 in Fig.1,
although it has been partially rebuilt, and no longer contains a fireplace or retains its
chimney. The mysterious wheelpit at 8 has left no visible traces, but the long office
building built after Fig. 1 was drawn in 1870 can still be identified. A tall fragment of
wall containing a chimney breast and two fireplaces still stands intact. The purpose of
The waterwheel at 8 is not mentioned in the reports which appeared with Fig. 1 in the
Mining Journal in 1870, and its purpose is unknown. It might have been a proposal which
was never carried out; the wheel seems to line up with Bertram’s Shaft, which was sunk
to the 12-fathom level, and even though this shaft was never fitted with pumping
machinery, the intention to do so might explain the appearance of wheel 8 in Fig. 1.
There are no traces visible of the features (including a 5-compartment hand-jigger) at 7,
which must have been in close proximity to, and slightly above, the Shallow Adit portal.
The area of the gunpowder magazine (9) is overgrown with bracken, but a flattened area
suggested its possible location during a survey in July 2016. An intriguing feature which
is not shown in Fig. 1 is a third ore bin, isolated from the two main bins below the
Engine Shaft. This third ore-bin is almost certainly older than the others, and is placed
between the magazine and the whim: it probably dates from the 1845 period of working,
six years before the first crusher was erected, when hand-picking alone was being used
to clean the ore. The primitive dressing process of 1845 probably involved the stuff being
hauled to surface by the whim at the Engine Shaft, then passed into the ore-bin just west
of the whim. Below the ore-bin, a flattened area indicates the old picking floor, which
was abandoned when the 1851 crusher and the new picking floor were built 50 yards to
the south.

This study has used the latest information found by the 2016 excavations at the mine to
interpret the different periods of dressing ore at Melin Llyn y Pair, as well as to identify
the uses of the buildings and machinery shown in Fig. 1. The area around 4 and 5 has
been greatly disturbed since the closure of the mine, but the excavation of the wheelpit
complex at 3 has yielded many answers to the questions posed by Fig. 1, which was not
labelled or annotated to show the functions of the different structures. The plan below
has been drawn using information from the First Edition OS Map and Fig. 1, and

demonstrates our present interpretation of the dressing floors. Note that the dimensions
of the waterwheels are estimated, as no records of their exact measurements survive.

Fig. 5: surface plan of Melin Llyn y Pair Mine dressing-floors


Brian Davies

In 1874 the Great Western Colliery Company began sinking two new pits at its colliery
near Hopkinstown, Pontypridd. For the new ‘No.1’ pit they ordered a steam winding
engine that had a greater capacity than any then working in South Wales. The
commissioning of this new engine in June 1876 was therefore quite an occasion. The
directors arrived from Bristol and Cardiff in a special carriage attached to the ordinary
train on the Taff Vale Railway. To great applause in the crowded engine-house the
engine was started by the young Miss Hetty Snow, stepdaughter of Geo. J. Bryant, the
chairman of the company, who had previously broken a bottle of wine against the
headframe and another on the engine. Her name is still visible on the wall inside the
building and the pit and its engine have ever since been known as ‘the Hetty’.

The Hetty was not the first pit on this site. In 1851 John Calvert, a Yorkshireman who
had begun as a railway contractor, opened the Gyfeillion pit, 149 yards deep and worked
by a beam engine. In 1854 this pit was bought on the initiative of Daniel Gooch to supply
coal (coking coal) for the locomotives of the Great Western Railway. Ten years later
Calvert bought back the colliery, but it soon passed into the ownership of the Great

Western Colliery Company, whose relationship if any with the Great Western Railway
requires further investigation.

The two new pits were sunk to the deeper steam coal seams. The Hetty was the main
coal-winding shaft, and was 392 yards deep. The engine wound two drams (trams) at a
time, each carrying a ton and a half of coal. Output from this pit alone averaged 250,000
tons per year and manpower reached its peak of 1,210 in 1912.

The engine was built by Barker and Cope of Kidsgrove Staffs, and is a two-cylinder
horizontal simple. When built its cylinders were 40" bore by 6' stroke, working at 60 psi
and each with four Cornish drop valves. These were not arranged in pairs as on later
engines. Instead the two admission valves were on the side of each cylinder closest to the

centrally positioned regulator valve while the exhaust valves were on the outer sides of
the cylinders. The engine used flat wire rope, coiling on to two reels of 16' diameter.

For its first thirty years of operation the engine did not have a steam-brake, only a
footbrake, neither did it have any safety gear to prevent overwinding. The danger of this
situation became clear on Sunday the first of August 1880, when an overwind brought
one of the cages up through the headgear, taking a sheave off its bearings and sending
it spinning over the roof of the enginehouse and across the main Rhondda road, where
it demolished the end wall of a small cottage and came to rest on the riverbank.
Fortunately no-one was hurt.

The engineman’s controls are on a driving platform raised on fluted cast-iron pillars and
positioned centrally between the cylinders and in line with the drum. Experience
elsewhere soon proved that this put the engineman in a vulnerable position in case of
breakage of a rope when the loose end could come flailing into the engine-house and it
soon became normal practice for the engineman’s driving position to be to one side of
the engine. The Hetty footbrake was actuated by a pedal and might require the full
weight of the engineman to be brought to bear, so the engineman had to stand while
driving. Both these features remain. Mining engineering textbooks state emphatically
that steam brakes are always operated by lever, with the engineman in a sitting position.
The Hetty is the exception to the rule, as the old footpedal was retained when a steam
brake was later fitted.

By 1900 the engine was obsolescent, both because of its use of flat rope and its low
working pressure of 60 psi. Very few engines from before 1880 survived past 1900 in the
South Wales coalfield, which was expanding and at the forefront of innovation in
winding technology. The problem of how to improve the winding gear at the Hetty was
to be tackled by Hugh Bramwell, who had taken up his first post with the Great Western
Colliery Company in 1892. Bramwell was a North of England man and an innovative
mechanical engineer, who soon set about modernising the company’s collieries
particularly in respect of their winding machinery. In 1892 he installed the first
compound winding engine in South Wales (built by John Fowler of Leeds) at Ty Mawr
colliery and in 1908 he installed the first large electric winder in the UK at the
company’s Maritime colliery in Pontypridd. Nevertheless his most productive pit
remained the Hetty, with its old engine from 1875.

The normal course of action would have been to build a new engine-house either behind
the existing winder or across the pit from it, construct a new headframe around the old
one and then change over the winding ropes when the installation was complete, thus
avoiding any disruption of production. This was impossible at the Hetty because of the
extremely cramped layout of the site on a narrow strip of land between the road and the
railway. The only way to deal with the problem was to re-build the engine in-situ,
piecemeal over several years.

The first phase was the replacement of the original timber headframe. A new steel
headframe was built around the old frame by R.J. Neville of Llanelly. Completed in 1903
this is now the oldest rolled steel joist headframe surviving in Wales.

Next came the engine brake and safety gear. Hugh Bramwell stated at a discussion on the
prevention of overwinding at a meeting of the South Wales Institute of Engineers that
none of his engines had safety gear because nothing available met his requirements.
However Frank Leonard Whitmore, a prolific inventor of mining machinery, soon
afterwards designed a ‘safety device for preventing overspeed and overwinding’ that
obviously satisfied Bramwell, and the engine still has this equipment with its brass plate
announcing ‘Patent Applied For’. Whitmore made his patent application in December
1904 and it was granted in February 1905, so the device that survives on the Hetty
engine, acting upon a Whitmore steam brake by H. J. H. King of Nailsworth, may well
be both the first and the last of its type.

Then came the drum. Bramwell wanted to change from flat wire rope to round wire rope,
but the engine had been built with narrow flat rope reels (narrow because flat rope coils
on top of itself) so there was not enough room for a conventional cylindrical drum on
which round rope coils like cotton on a reel. Bramwell designed and built a parallel
drum on which the rope coils back on top of itself. This had previously been thought
impossible, because of the friction and consequent strain on the rope at the point at
which the drum is full and the next coil has to rise to coil over its predecessor. Bramwell
solved this problem by making the barrel of the drum of grooved cast-iron sections and
also grooving the flange of the drum to guide the rope up and over the previous coil. This
drum, built in 1909, was the first of its kind in the UK.

Last came the cylinders. The
two old 40" cylinders
working at 60psi with
Cornish drop-valves were
replaced over Christmas 1910
by two new 34" cylinders
working at 120psi, with
piston valves and expansion
valve-gear by Worsley
Mesnes of Wigan. Hugh
Bramwell was an admirer of
G. J. Churchward, and it
would be interesting to know
if this decision owed
anything to Churchward’s
experiments first with
compounds and later with
piston valves working

The engine wound coal until 1926 and raised a total of over 12 million tons in its
working life. Then the Hetty lived on in quiet semi-retirement as the ‘second way out’
for Ty Mawr colliery until the closure of that pit in 1983. George Downes, the last
engineman, signed off by painting his name on the wall on 26 November 1983, only a few
yards from, but 107 years after the inauguration of, ‘Hetty Snow’.

The work of volunteers over 16 years has restored the engine to working order, and a
building preservation trust has just reached an agreement with the landowner (the local
Borough Council)to take the site on a 30-year lease. Much remains to be done,
particularly on the headframe and on the adjacent fan-house, which it is hoped could
accommodate an air compressor or even a boiler.

Volunteers work on the site every Sunday afternoon, and visitors are welcome. Each
September a portable air compressor is hired and the engine is run for local school
groups and for the general public. In 2017 the engine will be running and open to the
public on Saturday the 22nd of September from 10.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m., and on
Sunday the 23rd of September from 11.00 a.m. until 3.00 p.m.

Léon-Vivant Moissenet


translated by Robert Ireland

Between 1855 and 1865 the eminent French mining engineer Léon-Vivant Moissenet
(2.viii.1831 – 8.ii.1906) made a number of study tours in the British Isles, an area, as his
obituarist Jules Micaud observed, ‘not often visited previously by French engineers.’ ‘In
the course of the journeys which he made in England and Scotland in 1855,’ Micaud
continues, ‘in Cornwall and Devonshire in 1857, 1858 and 1865, in Wales and Ireland
in 1862, and despite two serious accidents (one in a carriage near Caernarvon in 1860, the
other – which nearly cost him his life – in the Man Engine at Devon Great Consols in
1865), he learned his knowledge of metalliferous mines [...] and he studied industrial
processes, and the mechanical preparation of ores, in great depth. [...] The mechanical
preparation of the ores of tin, lead and copper in England also provided Moissenet with
the subjects for lectures which he gave at the School of Mines in 1864, 1865 and 1866,
and which earned him, in 1865, an official diploma of approval.’

Even greater approval, in Britain as well as in France, was accorded to the Studies on the
lodes of Cornwall. The rich parts of lodes. Structure of these parts, and their relation to the
bearings of stratigraphic systems, which Moissenet published in 1873; ‘a work’, Micaud says,
‘which did not escape the attention of the learned societies of the region which he had
studied, and indeed of the whole of England. After the publication of the volume in
France, the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society, the Royal Institution of Cornwall and
the Miners’ Association of Cornwall and Devon spontaneously elected him an honorary
member or correspondent. After 1874, the last-named Association decided to translate
excerpts from the book for the use of the “captains” of the mines; its honorary secretary,
Mr J.H. Collins, made a start on the project, but decided that it would be preferable to
produce a complete translation of the work. Moissenet revised the translation. Following
its publication, the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, the British
Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Mining Institute of Cornwall and
Devon elected Moissenet a corresponding member or foreign member. It may be
mentioned here that Moissenet had been an honorary member of the Royal Geological
Society of Cornwall since 1858 ... his studies also won him the highly-valued friendship
of a number of men in England, such as Mr K.W. Fox, Mr W. Jory Henwood and Mr Le
Neve Foster.’ In 1868 he had contributed, to the Annales des mines, extracts (in French
translation) from the Mining Journal and Hunt’s Mineral Statistics, and in 1872 he revised
a French version of William Jory Henwood’s Remarks on metalliferous deposits in Cornwall.

Corrected and enlarged, the text of Moissenet’s lectures of 1864–5 on the machine-
dressing of lead and zinc ores at Level Fawr and Frongoch was published in the Annales
des mines (6ème série, Mémoires, tome IX [1866]): it gives us by far our most complete and
scientific description of the sites, and of the machinery and processes employed there,
as they existed about the middle of the nineteenth century. Stupendously detailed, vitally
important and infinitely fascinating, the full text has never been made available to
English readers: what follows is an excerpt from a complete translation made by myself,
which the Trust hopes to publish — together with my translation of Bernardino
Nogara’s article on the hydro-electric plant at Pont Ceunant, already printed in the 2013
Newsletter — as a single collection, for the benefit of readers without French and Italian.

The Trust has been engaged for some years in the study and archaeological investigation
of the dressing-floors at Frongoch, and recent remedial work undertaken there by
Natural Resources Wales has brought the site even more closely to our attention. Before
this work began, our explorations of the lower part of the site revealed — somewhat to
our surprise — the foundations of the original Lisburne Buddle, the reciprocating
separator invented by John Vigus at Frongoch and first installed there in 1855. Hence
the choice of the following extracts, in which Moissenet describes and illustrates this
remarkable (indeed, unique) advance in Victorian mining technology.

The translation is as exact and literal as I could make it, avoiding wherever possible the
temptation to convert it into thoroughgoing English idiom: the patterns of thought and
expression remain, as they must, those of the French writer. It seemed more meaningful,
however, in presenting extracts only from Moissenet’s work for a special purpose, to reverse
the order in which the two blocks of text appear in the original, so that the description of
the complete plant precedes that of the Lisburne Buddle itself. For the guidance of those
who may wish to consult the French text, the page-numbers of the 1866 publication are
noted in square brackets. The English words which Moissenet generally uses for the
names of machines and processes appear ‘in inverted commas’ in the translation.

I am very grateful to Simon Hughes for providing me with the scan of his copy of the
volume of the Annales des mines from which the translation has been made.


by Mr L. Moissenet, mining engineer.

[p.1 f/n] By authorisation on His Excellency the Minister of Public Works I gave, at
the School of Mines, in 1864 and 1865, lectures on the procedures followed in England
for the machine-dressing of ores: the present report is a development of the subject
treated in the lectures of 1865.

[p.4] I express here my thanks to the courteous managers of the Lisburne Mines, Messrs
Taylor, and to their agents, especially to ‘Captain’ Vigus, in charge of machine-dressing.


[p. 51] II. Frongoch plant.

Summary of operations and notes on apparatus. — The Frongoch plant treats an ore poor in
lead, heavily mixed with blende and with a very hard quartzose gangue. Comparing the
weights of the stuff as drawn and the merchantable ore, we find that in 1859 less than 6
parts of washed galena were produced from 100 parts of rock extracted. The mine does
not employ ‘tributors’; the treatment process is free from the complications associated
with this class of workers.

The plant, perfectly laid out, extends over a huge inclined plane, or rather over a series
of gently-sloping shelves. The sketch (Plate I, fig. 2) shows its natural divisions, four in

Upper floor, where washing, sizing, sorting and breaking are carried out; also the first
sieving of the small ore and loading into the crushing rolls;

Middle floor, devoted to the final treatment of the small and in particular of the
material crushed in the large and small rolls;

Lower floor, with settling-tanks for fine sands and slimes, and washing machinery for
this fine material;

Bottom or slimes floor, equipped with stamps (not in use at present) and the third pair
of rolls which replaces it; treating also the last slimes flowing from the preceding plant.

The apparatus for washing, picking and sorting is the same as at Level Fawr. The
grate bars are spaced here at 11/2" (3.8cm), and the gauge of the griddle mesh is 1" (2.5cm).
The difference is the result of the lower schistosity of the broken ore.

The sieves (‘jiggers’) are operated by hand-levers, which allows them to be divided
into groups according to their gauge. Since each group is [p.52] next to the devices with
which it is associated, the economy produced at Level Fawr by the motive power is
replaced here by economy of transport.

There are six 4-hole jiggers for the stuff as drawn, and six 5-hole and four further 6-
hole jiggers on the middle floor.

The hand-sieves are of two kinds, those with 7 holes per inch (the only ones in the
whole plant with a mesh of iron wire), and those called ‘copper bottom’, of sheet copper
with approximately 1 mm. holes, used for finishing the washing of the fine granules.

The large rolls have a 3 × 4-hole griddle; except that there is a secondary griddle of
5 holes for the treatment of second-grade ore.

The small rolls work with a 6-hole griddle.

The ‘Welsh buddles’ are at present out of use, and there is no ‘shaking trunk’; they are
replaced by the ‘Lisburne buddle’ and the ‘sizing box’.

The ‘Lisburne buddle’, first constructed at the bottom plant in about 1855, has been
installed in the centre of the middle plant, and its introduction has resulted in a
profound modification of the sequence of operations. This very ingenious machine,
which I shall describe in great detail later, consists essentially of an inclined plane whose
head receives a sheet of water, in front of which the ore is pushed diagonally by a 21-
tooth rake making 20 oscillations per minute. It operates continuously: the ore, pushed
with a shovel to one of the upper corners of the plane, runs off into four boxes, two of
which, opposite the point of admission, constantly receive the rich products of the
washing, while the poor sands fall into the other boxes placed at the foot of the plane.

The ‘sizing box’ or water-jet classifier comprises three boxes on stepped platforms, with
their upper edges in contact. Each box receives at the bottom a rising current of water,
which [p.53] produces a vigorous eddy in the suspended sands. Ore is fed with a shovel
into the top box; the heavy grains drop down against the current and fall into a forward
container; the finer grains are similarly classified by coming to the surface in the second
box; only the slimes escape into the last level. [...] The lower plant contains three ‘round
buddles’, a ‘kieve’ with mechanical agitator, and a single revolving table. This German
machine, known in England by the name of the ‘Zenner rotating frame’, is employed
alongside the ‘round buddles’; its function in the plant is entirely characteristic.

Description of the plant (sketch, Plate I, fig. 2).

For this description I maintain the order indicated above.

Upper floor.

"$"N Tramway carrying the ore from Pryse’s Shaft on the east and Taylor’s Shaft on the west.
AA N Two o re-slides, each serving o ne shaft.
BB N Washing and sizing grates: distance between bars 1 1/ 2" = 3.8cm.
CC N Fixed tables for picking according to size and q uality. Except for waste carried to the
tramway, all the rest goes to the
DD N Shed for breaking and picking of blocks and storage of picked ore, ready for crushing: b,
heap of native blende; c, heap of blende and g alena pieces.
EE N Classifying griddles; 1" (2.5cm) m esh, over which the sm all ore passes.
FF N Circular tables, turning slowly: picking of small pieces.
GG N Boxes holding the small ore which is taken out of them to go to the first jigging.
HH N H O Six 4-hole jiggers arranged in pairs.

Output of material produced.

aa N Traps receiving the deposit from the hutches of the 4-hole jigge rs; this deposit is carried
off to the middle plant by the washing water, and com es to rest in c hannel T.
**N Tramway taking the v arious batches of ore to the first stage of the large crushing rolls.
((N Tramway taking the w aste from sorting to the dum ps.
ggN Tramway taking away the waste from the sieving of the small ore.

Midd le floor.

L Large rolls: L N small rolls.
NO, N N O N Channels and collecting-bo xes for crush ed m aterial.
P ‘Lisb urne bud dle’.
R Water-jet classifier.
P 1P 2P 3 Three ‘Welsh b udd les’ (no t in use).
SS N S O Tanks and mesh for hand-sieving on 7 holes or on a copper bottom.
T Two adjacent troughs receiving the hutch depo sits from th e jiggers H . (These d epos its
only come through when the hutches are emptied. In the meantime these troughs carry
the washing water and act as tyes for the con centration of the m iddles and tails which are
put aside durin g the rem oval of the d epo sits ob tained in th e dev ice itself.)
UU N U O Six 5-hole jiggers.
VV N Four 6-hole jiggers.
X Board platform for temporary storage of merchantable ore.

[p.55] Output of material produced.

::N Tramway taking the washed ore to the store-house.
<<N<O<“ Tramway serving the jiggers U and V. The track divides at <O by means of a turntable:
branch <O< IV takes the sterile skim ming s to the dum ps, while the main line <O<“ takes
the poor skim mings to the third pair of rolls L O in the bo ttom plant.

The fine sands and slimes are carried off by water to the various settling-tanks of the
lower plant, where the main processing of the fines is done.

L ower floor.

A 1A 2A 3 Five large, long tanks for collection of the sands. All of these tanks run off into a comm on
channel leading to the large pools (‘slime pits’). Their well-chosen position brings them close
to the ‘round buddles’ to which their products pass; all transport of the sands and the
undesirable mo ving-around of barrow-m en in the middle p lant is avoided by this means.
A 1 receives the fine material from the washing of the stuff as drawn. The water-wheel placed
at the top of the plant drives the griddles E and the rotating tables F. The w ater which powers
it enters the grates B and carries the small pieces and then the small ore into suitably-inclined
cast-iron conduits, and then flows, from the boxes G beneath the traps a, into the conduits which
take it to the ‘tye’-troughs T. There it is use d for washing in th e jiggers H and finally runs into
the box A 1, where the fines are collected.
A 2 serves the same purp ose in resp ect of the w ater from the crush ing, and rep laces the ‘pit’
which w e saw place d at L evel Fawr after the box for coarse sand.
A 3 is traversed by the water from the ‘Lisburne buddle’ and the classifier.
B 1 to B 4 Four large interconnected ‘slime pits’. Each of them is 30' = 9.1 5 m lon g an d 13' = 4 m wide and
about 6' = 1.8 m deep. T hey are surrounded by channels which are used to change the cou rse
of the water when it is necessary to empty [p.56] one of the pits. The surface area of the four
‘slime pits’ is about 145 square m etres.
C 1C 2C 3 Three ‘round bud dles’.
D1 Mr Zenner’s revolving table.
F1 ‘Kieve’ with paddles driv en by the water-wheel E 1, filled from the out-pipes of the preceding
G1 Temporary store for washed ore.

Output of material.

The waste produced from the last tails of the ‘round buddles’ is barrowed away and
forms large heaps near these buddles.

The muddy water which escapes from the last ‘slime pit’ is used to drive the wheel E1,
then goes with the outflow of all the ‘buddles’ to the bottom or residue plant. This is fed on
one side by the poor skimmings of the sieves which have been sent to the crusher, on the
other by the fines of the main plant. It includes:

LO Crusher rolls with settling-chan nels.
K1 ‘Lisburne buddle’, the first one constructed.
H1 Twelv e-head stamp s (not in use at pre sent).
N1 Five larg e ‘slim e pits’.
R1 Two ‘roun d bu ddles’.

A ton of washed ore costs about fr. 125 in labour on the bottom floor, while the
working expenses are hardly more than fr. 20 on the lower floor.

Positions of the original (1) and reconstructed (2) Lisbu rne buddles at Frongoch

Ground levels at the Frongoch plant. — From the delivery line "$"N to the round
buddles C1, 2, 3 the ground drops 12 metres, terraced in order to assist the run-off of
muddy water and the carriage of secondary products from one device to another. I have
indicated below the abrupt changes of level marked by walls, and the fall due to the
sloping ground.

Drop Slope
ft m ft m
From the tramway "$"N to the rough picking level 8 = 2.44 »
From rough picking to fine picking 4 = 1.22 »
From the circular tables to the level of the 4-hole jiggers H » 2 = 0.61
From the to p plant to the m iddle 9 = 2.74 »
From the crusher floor to the track <O » 6 = 1.83
From the tramway <O to the mix ers of the ‘round buddles’ C 1C 2C 3 » 3 = 0.91
Wall at the head of the ‘roun d bu ddles’ C 1C 2C 3 7 = 2.13 »

Totals 28' = 8.53 11' = 3.35
I.e., in sum total, 39' = 11.88 m.

There are seven water-wheels at Frongoch, six with buckets and one (breast-shot) with

Distribution of w ater power at Frongoch.

on plan
Diameter breast
ft m ft m
16 = 4.876 2 = 0.609 K Griddles and circular tables (breast-sh ot wheel).
30 = 9.144 3 = 0.914 M Two pairs of crushing rolls.
6 = 1.829 1 = 0.305 Q ‘Lisb urne bud dle’.
8 = 2.438 1 = 0.305 E1 Three ‘round bud dles’, ‘kieve’, revolving table
18 = 5.486 9 = 2.743 M1 Crushing rolls, 12-head stamps
A wheel driving the two ‘round buddles’ from below.

The outflow of the breast-shot wheel K is used for the washing of the stuff as drawn.
The main wheel M sends its water to the lower crusher wheel M1: on its way a launder
takes off the clean water needed for the ‘round buddles’ C1, 2, 3 and the revolving table
D1 .

The ‘Lisburne buddle’ receives the water which has driven its own wheel. A special
launder feeds the wheel Q and the classifier R.

Finally, the slightly muddy water which flows from the last large ‘slime pit’ goes to
drive the wheel E1, and flows from there to the bottom plant.

Detail of Moissenet, plate III, figs 4 (‘section of the rake’), 5 (‘plan of the rake’), 6 (‘trigger’)

[p.94] [...] VII. ‘Lisburne buddle’.

The ‘Lisburne buddle’ was invented by Captain Vigus and built for the first time at
Frongoch towards the end of the year 1855.
The first experimental machine was installed in the lower plant, next to the crusher
house:(1) tests [p.95] having been successful, a second was set up in the middle plant. It
is this which I intend to describe, and which I have represented in figs 1–9, Plate III.
The initial purpose of the invention was to replace the raking performed by hand on
the ‘Welsh buddle’ with a mechanical process. But the imitation could not be literal: on
the one hand, one could never hope to reproduce the work-woman’s stroke with the rake;

(1) Messrs Philips [sic] and Darlington (Minings [sic] Records, p.127) describe the first ‘Lisburne Buddle’
and give a drawing of it.

on the other hand, mechanical operation suggested the advantage of making the
operation continuous.
In the preceding chapter I described in detail the part played by the ‘Lisburne buddle’
in the plant at Frongoch; here we will examine in succession the construction, the
working, the consumption of water, motive power and manpower, the product, the
special costs per ton treated. Finally, I will give an example of the efficient action of the
‘buddle’ and a number of theoretical considerations regarding the movement of materials
on the surface of the inclined plane.

Construction. The machine consists of:

A fixed frame, wood work and rails;
A rake on a moving carriage [chariot];
A power source (a bucket-wh eel).

The fixed frame is represented in figures 1, 2 and 3. The inclined plane is 5' 6" = 1.676m
wide and 4' 3" = 1.295m long in the direction of the slope. It is built of beams 2" = 5cm
thick; the inclination is 4" in 51", i.e. 100/1275 or 7.81cm/metre.
The ‘coffers’ intended to receive the products are four in number; nos 1 and 2 are next
to each other at the left of the plane. Their internal dimensions are:
Length (down the long axis of the plane) 3' 6" = 1.666 m
Width 2' 0" = 60.9cm
De pth 5" = 12.7cm

[p.96] While maintaining the same width for these two boxes, it has been considered
advisable to widen the opening of no. 2 at the expense of no. 1: the small plank installed
for this purpose is 9" = 22.8cm long.
The shallow depth is intended to assist the emptying of heavy products with the
Boxes 3 and 4 are set back about 2m from the base of the plane, in order to avoid
encumbrance and to leave enough room beside each of them for storage of the products
which are continuously dug out during the processing of a batch of several tons.
The material reaches the boxes along two inclined channels, whose measurements are:

Len gth of bo th 6' 6" = 1.981 m
Edges: top 4" = 10.1cm
bottom 3" = 7.6cm
Width: top channel to no 3 2' 6" = 76.2cm
channel to no 4 3' 0" = 91.4cm
bottom = w idth of boxes 2' 1" = 63.5cm

The inclination of the channels is 7" in 78" (= approximately 9cm / m).
Boxes nos 3 and 4 measure:

Length (in the sense of the inclination of the plane) 3' 0" = 91.4cm
Width 2' 1" = 63.5cm
De pth 1' 0" = 30.5cm

In each group of boxes the sides at the end form a spout; the water falls into two channels
which meet each other and drop the sands into the long tanks (A3, fig. 2, Plate I) and the
fine slimes into the large ‘slime pits’.
The inclined plane receives at the top a sheet of water very carefully controlled by two
consecutive spillways. The water which drives the wheel comes through the tail-race to
a first tank, passes from this to a second, and finally falls on to the plane.
The tanks are equal in length to the width of the plane: the other principal
dimensions are

[p.97] Width of the channel 8 1/ 2" = 21.8cm
Width of the first tank 9" = 22.8cm
second tank 10" = 25.4cm
Dep th of the first spillway 6" = 15.2cm
second spillway 3" = 7.6cm

The delivery-launder has a branch controlled by a sluice-gate; water diverted through
this goes to moisten the heap of ore placed on the ground in front of the charging-
aperture. This aperture is 1' = 30cm wide, and is let in at the top right of the plane,
within an enclosure of planks fitted on this side only.
The sections, figs 1 and 3, show four vertical posts which support, at about half their
height, two lines of iron rails, and at the top two beams fitted with strips of iron on top.
This structure forms the double track for the moving component; the flanged wheels of
the carriage travel along the rails, while the rollers of the mechanism run on the flat
The rails are 5' 6" = 1.676 metres apart: the rails are 2" = 5cm high and 11/2" = 3.8cm
wide. At first they run level, 51/2" = 14cm from the inclined bottom, then they bend up
and rise about 2" over the last 12" down to the lower post.
The distance from the surface of the plane to the tops of the posts is 18" = 45.7cm.
The iron strips on top have two raised sections, one above the rise of the rails, the other
in front of the spillway at the head of the plane.

Moving part (figs 4, 5 and 6). — The rake is made up of a four-wheeled carriage,
supporting 21 identical scrapers which can be lifted separately or together.
The structure of the carriage consists of a strong cross-beam in front (on the side of
the base of the plane), two side-pieces and a second cross-beam covered with a cap locked
into position by two bolted stirrups. The faces of the two last-mentioned pieces of wood
are hollowed out into a channel where they come into contact.
[p.98] The branches of an iron fork fastened to the connecting rod are bolted to the
ends of the side-pieces.
The dimensions of the wooden parts are:

Front cross-beam 5' 1" = 1.549 7" = 17.8cm 4" = 10.1cm
Rear cross-beam [the same] 4"+2" = 15.2cm 3 1/ 2" = 8.9cm
Side-pieces 2' 7" = 78.7cm 4" = 10.1cm 3" = 7.6cm

The axles are made of 21/2" = 6.35cm iron rod; the cast-iron wheels are, on average, 8" =
20.3cm in diameter. As regards spacing, the distance from the outer face of the front
cross-beam to the centre of the forward axle is 71/2" = 19cm; the centres of the axles are
21" = 53.3cm apart; from the back axle to the top of the fork is 5' = 1.52m.
A blade or tooth (‘scraper’) is made of a sheet-metal plate riveted to a tail made of iron
rod. The plate is 14" = 35.5cm long and 6" = 15.2cm high. When the bottom edge is
worn out, it is replaced by a riveted strip of sheet metal.
The tail is 1/2" = 12cm in diameter and has a total length of about 3' = 91.4cm; at
30cm above the scraper it bends, then continues for about 46cm as far as the rear cross-
The channel let into this cross-beam and into its cap contains an iron rod which acts
as a hinge common to the 21 scrapers: each of their tails is bent so that they surround the
If a scraper needs repair, the two stirrups are unscrewed, the cap is removed, and when
the worn-out scraper has been replaced with a new one, the machine can be put back into
operation after a delay of only a few minutes.
The distance of the vertical part of the tails to the front axle is 10" = 25.4cm between

[p.99] The lift of the scrapers is 2" = 5cm: when they move they are guided by wooden
projections, some nailed to the rear face and others to the lower surface of the front cross-
beam; they are worked by an iron rod fitted with rollers at the ends.
This rod or lifter forms one of the essential parts of the mechanism: it passes beneath
the 21 tails and moves almost vertically along the front face of the cross-beam in two iron
guides or forks.
It is rectangular in section and measures 31/2" = 8.9cm by 3/4" = 1.9cm: its ends, filed
down to form round axles, are fitted with two rollers, 4" = 10.1cm in diameter and 13/4"
= 4.4cm thick. These rollers travel along the upper track described above, whose width,
measured externally, is 6'5" = 1.904m.
When rising, the scrapers must come into contact with the plane, whereas while
falling they must be suspended 2" above it. We will return later to the working of the
machine, but it is easy to see that the movement is transmitted by the rollers to the lifter
and by this to the 21 scrapers. To lower the scrapers the lifter is held in position by two
angled levers (fig. 6) moving on pivots and placed at each end of the front cross-beam:
the lifter rests on detents or notches cut into the short arms. At the bottom of their
movement the long arms of the angled levers come into contact with two straight levers
placed one on each side near the top of the vertical posts. The trigger operates and the
lifter drops out of the notches. The straight levers are 2' = 60.9cm in total length; their
thickness is 1" = 2.5cm, and their height 3" = 7.6cm. The long arm measures 18" =
46cm; the arm of the angled lever is only 11" = 28cm long.

Power source and transmission ( fig. 7: [trajectories of particles into the sorting-boxes, figs
8–9]). — The power source is a small bucket-wheel 6' = 1.828 m in diameter and 1' =
30.5cm wide. It is mounted on bearers at a [p.100] level high enough for the water to run
off from the foot of the wheel to the buddle.
At a rate of 20 r.p.m. the velocity at the circumference is 2.18m / sec.
The transmission is ingenious. In addition to the change in the direction of
movement, the difference in level between the axle of the wheel and the handle of the
rake had to be taken into account, and it was important to be able to control the running
with great precision.
A wooden structure shaped like a headframe supports an iron rod forming a
pendulum, to which are coupled on one side the connecting rod of the wheel, and on the
other side, nearer the ground, the handle of the rake. The end of the handle thus
describes an arc of a circle of large radius, which corresponds in practice with the
reciprocating movement of the carriage in a straight line. Between the points of
attachment of the connecting rod and the handle, two horizontal guides keep the

swinging pendulum in line with the vertical plane of the whole mechanism. The various
lengths have been arranged so that the travel of the rake is 3'9" = 1.143m.
It is obvious that the motive power for a buddle could be derived either from a large
wheel or from a steam engine, to suit the convenience of the plant; but it may be noted
that the quantity of clean water necessary for washing on the inclined plane will be
enough to drive the rake with a fall of 2 metres.
Operation. — During the operation of the rake the edges of the scrapers at each end
touch the sides of the inclined plane. The tails of the scrapers are spaced at 3" = 7.6cm:
there are 21 of them; as a result, the distance between centres of the tails at each side is
20 × 3" = 5'. Moreover, the angle of the scrapers is controlled by the fact that if the 14"-
long plate is projected on to a line parallel with the top of the plane, it produces a straight
line there of only 6". Now if we add the two 3" half-projections [p.101] of the scrapers at
the ends to the 5 feet [sc. between their centres], we have exactly the 5' 6" stated as the
width of the inclined plane. [...]
Figures 4 and 5 represent the carriage going up: the lifter rollers are bearing on the
flat part of the track; the scrapers are functioning; the angled lever is out of engagement.
As soon as the upward travel is finished, i.e. at the moment when the upper edges of
the scrapers are about to touch the spillway at the top, the two rollers rise by 2" on the
up-bent tracks; the lifter raises the 21 scrapers; the angled levers fall into engagement as
their long arm drops under its own weight. Figure 6 shows the position of the lifter
during the downward travel.
At the end of the downward travel the lower edges of the scrapers extend about 6"
beyond the bottom of the plane. At this moment the whole carriage is lifted by the
upward-curving part of the rails: at the same time, the impact of the tails of the angled
levers against the heads of the straight levers has disengaged the lifter from the notches
which were holding it. This component, pulled down by its own weight and that of the
scrapers, drops between its guides, and as soon as the ascending rollers reach [p.102] the
dip in their track, the scrapers begin to operate.
The ‘Lisburne buddle’ constructed according to the preceding specifications cost
about £20 sterling = fr. 500.(1)
Consumption. — Roughly speaking, the wheel consumes 300 litres of water per minute:
which gives, for a diameter of 1.82m, 546 kg / minute, i.e. 0.12 nominal h.p.
The greater part of the water from the wheel goes to the inclined plane. When fairly
fine sands are being treated and it is useful to reduce the washing water, the trap-door
of the branch-pipe is opened accordingly. — If we take the 300 litres of water pouring
down at the head of the plane, whose length is 1.676m, and if we grant that the sheet of
water at the spillway is about 6mm deep, we find that the water runs at a speed of about

(1) The first experim ental mo del, w ith 15 scrapers and delivering 24 stroke s a min ute, cost £ 31/10/0
sterling = fr. 787.50.
£ / s. fr.
Iron and blacksm iths’ work 18/10 462.50
Wood and carp enters’ wo rk 13/0 325.00
31/10 787.50
It consumed 67 gallons (= about 300 litres) of water per minute.

The work-force consists of four strong girls. One of them stands on the right at the top
of the plane and pushes down with a shovel the heap of sands being treated; the other
three remove from the boxes, as necessary, the deposits which fall into them.
Since the work of charging requires most effort, the girls take it in turns. One should
note, however, that the heap for charging is on the same level as the plane, and that it is
enough to move the material without lifting it.
Contrary to what happens in the water-fed settling devices, the loading can be slowed
or even [p.103] stopped altogether, without fear of harming the results of the operation.
The only precaution to be taken is not to force the charge. If that is done, the result is that
the sands form a layer on the plane, the relative mobility of the grains cannot play its
part, and the separation of grades is no longer possible.
The appropriate charge, and consequently the efficiency of the machine, depend on
the nature and the grain of the material.
The carrying power results here, as everywhere, from the weight of water and the slope
of the plane. The plane being fixed, it becomes necessary to restrict the admission of
water when fine and poor sands are being treated, and, as a result, to reduce the charge.
On the other hand, coarse, rich sands allow both the water and the charge to be

Output. — The quantity of material treated per 10-hour day varies between 40 and 15
tons, according to circumstances; the average at the Frongoch plant is 25 tons.
As for the weights collected in the various boxes, I will quote only two extreme
1. Rich granules, 7 to 5 mm and below; heads of crusher channels containing first-
grade ore. (The work done experimentally should be considered as a maximum.)
2. Poor, blendy sands, 3–2 mm and below; sands from the second tank of the water-jet
treated in 10 hrs. Bo x no. 1 Bo x no. 2 Boxes nos 3 and 4
tons tons tons tons
1 40 12 4 24
2 20 1 2 17

Returning to the average production of 25 tons in 10 hours, here are the figures for the
[p.104] Special labour-costs per ton treated. — Four girls, paid at 8–9d. (fr. 0.833– 0.957) per
day each, cost, if they earn the maximum pay of 9d., 36d. or 3s. = fr. 3.75, which gives fr.
0.15 per ton treated. [...]

Efficiency of the ‘Lisburne buddle’. — During my visit, the poor and blendy sands
mentioned above were being treated: the results of an analysis of samples collected at
various points in the machine will serve to exemplify its function as a concentrator.

(1) The ratio between the weight of the sands and the w ater su pplied at th e sam e tim e varie s betwee n 1:6
and 1:8.


Th e calculatio ns are based on 100 kilos of san ds (A ) treated in the ‘budd le’.

Weight Content Weight Content Weight Content Weight
of grade. % contained % contained % contained.
BOXES kg. kg. kg. kg.
No .1 5 70 3.50 20 1.00 10 0.50
No .2 10 40 4.00 40 4.00 20 2.00
No .3 40 15 6.00 30 12.00 55 22.00
No .4 45 5 2.25 20 9.00 75 33.75
(A) 100 = 15.75 + 26.00 + 58.25

[p.106] [...] Roughly speaking, the ‘buddle’ will treat 20 tons of these sands in a 10-
hour day. If the whole cost of the operation is charged on the concentrated products, we
No .1 1 tonne containing 700 kg o f galena,
No .2 2 tonnes containing 800 kg o f galena.
Total 3 tonnes at 50% 1500 (kg o f galena)

for a labour cost of fr. 3.75, i.e. fr. 1.25 per tonne.


[p. 63] The ‘buddle’, an extremely efficient device, treats materials very different in
nature, richness and grain. I have just said that lead ore, blende, and the blende-galena
mixture are put through it. The tenor is never very low, but may vary between 20 and
80% of paying ore: one might set the average limits at 30 or 40%. Finally – and this is one
of its most valuable assets from the practical point of view – the ‘buddle’ is applied to
coarse crushed granules whose maximum dimensions are 5–7.5 mm, and to coarse sands
from the ‘tye’ of 3–5 mm. At the other extreme, it will accept the tank-deposits of the 7-
hole sieve (2–2.5 mm) and even those of the copper-bottomed sieve, 1 mm in diameter.
The ‘buddle’ is a direct response to a requirement of English engineers, because it is
above all a concentrator. It is usually fed with extremely poorly classified materials, some-
times even imperfectly washed. Its four boxes yield products whose size-classification is
no less imperfect, but whose respective tenor is widely different. If sands which are
already rich are treated, merchantable ore is obtained immediately, as in the ‘Welsh
buddle’: here the machine acts as a finisher. In the opposite case it works as a powerful
coarse separator, and the deposit collected in the box is finished with a single sieving.

[p.70] I will end this detailed consideration of the function and use of the ‘Lisburne
buddle’ by giving a list of the material which it receives [...] :

(1) In the whole of the following passage this device is called ‘buddle’ for short. It is shown on Plate III,
figures 1 to 9.

List of m aterial fed into or retu rning to the ‘L isburne buddle’.

Head o f troug h or ‘tye’ T 1 derived from the tanks following 4-hole sieving of the small ore.
Mo re or less rich heads of the crusher channels.
Tanks of 5, 6 and 7-ho le and coppe r-bottomed sieves.
Skimm ings of copper-bottom ed sieves.
Sands from the second drum of the water-jet classifier.
Box 2 : if poor material
from a first treatm ent w ith the ‘Lisb urne bud dle’.
Boxes 3 and 4: if rich material @

It would be superfluous to multiply detailed examples of treatment, but it is useful to
note certain characteristic differences.
When rich tanks are passed through the ‘buddle’, boxes 3 and 4 are sufficiently good
to be passed again through the machine. Box 1, however, is not ready for sale; the muddy
state of the material fed in requires it to be finished on the hand-sieve.
On the other hand, the heads of the crushing channels of ores of first and second grade
immediately produce, on the ‘buddle’, a first box of merchantable ore.
Processing of blende alone, recovered from the channels, also produces merchantable
blende straightaway.
Finally, the blende-and-galena quality sent to the ‘buddle’ in [p.72] the form of the
tank-deposit from the first sievings of crushed ‘black and ore’ can be considered as
entirely comparable with box P2 in the scheme which I have just set out.
The value of the ‘Lisburne buddle’ at Frongoch can already be appreciated. [...] I have
no hesitation in claiming that this device, judiciously employed, can and should be
applied successfully to the washing of many kinds of mineral ore.

The first L isburn e Buddle (Phillips and Darlington, Records of Mining and Metallurgy p. 127)

Above, the plinth of the first Lisburne Buddle under excavation, looking towards the foot of the
slope: on the right, a later (Kitto-period?) round buddle and its associated box-launder encroach
on the long-abandoned masonry. Below, the edge of the plinth, looking up the slope.

Left, Moissenet’s plan (greatly enlarged) of the first
Lisburne Buddle (left) and the associated crusher
(centre) and stamps battery (right)

Below, the remains of all three structures, photographed from the foot of the buddle plinth on 15
September 2012


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