Welsh Mines Society
Cymdeithas Mwyngloddiau Cymru

Autumn Field Meet - Weekend, 7th - 8th September 2013
South Wales : Rudry Mountain & Risca lead mines, and Big Pit, Blaenavon
Based at the Swan Hotel, Abergavenny.
Organiser : Terry Evans

[ Current OS Maps : Explorer 1:25,000 Shts.OL13 and 152, and Landranger 1:50,000 Sheet 171 'Cardiff, Newport...' ]

As to the programme of events, this was as follows:
  • Saturday 7th September - Rhymney Valley
    Details of lead mining in the Carboniferous Outcrop of south Wales can be found here.
    View 1:25,000 OS Map for Rudry ore field.

    Morning - Draethen

    Met at 10:45 at Forestry car park ST 207 866 (view OS Map or Road Atlas) on Lower Machen–Draethen–Caerphilly road. (Rudry Mill Farm immediately south on Explorer 152 or 166).

    Two options were available :
    a.) A Surface walk (approximately two hours) to view Draethen lead mine remains, both surface and shaft mining dating from Roman period to mid-nineteenth century.  (Viking artefacts have also been found).  Rough ground in parts.
     Leader : Tony Jukes.
      or
    b.) An Underground trip to ‘Roman Mine’.  Dry with a small amount of flat out crawling, some upright walking, but mainly stooping.  Access via. sloping entrance using a handline.  Trip duration about an hour, plus 15 minute walk (each way) from the car park.
     Leader : Mike Munro.
    Roman Mine was rediscovered by four cavers, including J&N Tuck, of the Bristol Exploration Club in March 1965.  A copy of the subsequent report, published as BEC 'Caving Report No.15', can be found here.  An alternate copy of the survey can be found here.

    Afternoon - Rhymney

    Met 14:30 at Butetown, Rhymney, SO 104 092 (about 30 minutes up the Rhymney valley from Draethen - view OS Map or Road Atlas ).
    From this model ironworkers’ village a reasonably level walk of approximately two miles was planned to include the early Upper Furnace Ironworks (1801) and the substantial remains of the later Rhymney Ironworks, however a shortage of time prevented a visit to the Rhymney Ironworks.
     Leader : Terry Evans.

  • Saturday Evening - Dinner, 18:30 for 19:00, at Swan Hotel, 33 Cross Street, Abergavenny NP7 5ER (by the bus station, which has car parking).
    A copy of the menu can be found here.

  • Sunday 8th September - Blaenavon

    Met at 09:45 at Big Pit, Blaenavon (Postcode : NP4 9XP. View OS Map or Road Atlas) for underground guided tour (damp underfoot but not strenuous) of Coity Pit ironstone area and through the River Arch drainage level.
    This covers the earliest workings in Coity Mountain and the acknowledged oldest surviving known drainage system in south Wales and was not the normal tour provided by the Museum.
    An early start was necessitated by the need to be kitted out and descend before normal public tours commence.  Lamps/helmets/self-rescuers were provided.  Due to a limited party size, places needed to be booked beforehand on the booking form accompanying the Spring 2013 Newsletter.

    All other facilities at the Big Pit site, including the cafe, were open to those not taking the underground trip.

    At 14:00 the party re-assembled in the car park at Big Pit for a walk around Forgeside, (effectively Blaenavon Mark II), this later settlement having several important industrial remains which contrast with all else seen during the weekend.
     Leader : Terry Evans.

    Also in the Rhymney valley : the Elliot Colliery Engine House of 1891 (SO 147 027 view OS Map or Road Atlas) contains a four-cylinder tandem compound engine, built by Thornhill & Warham, with a 26 foot to 15 foot diameter bi-cylindrico-conical winding drum (aka a ‘diabolo’).  This was open during the Sunday afternoon (admission free), for those interested.

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This page created 5th January 2014 (M.P.Munro)
Last update (reformatted) on 19th April 2021

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