Welsh Mines Society
(Member of the National Association of Mining History
|WELSH MINES SOCIETY NEWSLETTER
1 1999 PROGRAMME
Summer Meet. 12/13th
June. Based on the Red Lion Hotel, Llanidloes (01686 412270) - Leader
D.Bick. This is our 20th Anniversary meet, and by way of a little
celebration a 16 page A4 publication produced by John Bennett and Rob Vernon
compiled largely from member's contributions, should accompany this
newsletter. Our thanks are due for all their efforts, and no doubt it will
become a collector's item. Free of charge too, and all this on only £4 per
Also available, we expect to have on sale at £2.95, a third and
improved edition (limited to 100) of the now long out of stock WMS BONE CHINA
As to the programme of events, this is as follows:
Saturday Meet at the Van Mine 11.45 am prompt (Grid Ref
942878). Either bring your own lunch or there are several pubs in
Llanidloes a mile or two away, which we will go through, for a 2.30pm meet at
the Gorn Mine 1 mile south of Llanidloes up a long hill. Parking
there may be a problem - I will give details at Van (not yet been there to
review the situation). You can book your evening meal at Van. There
will be the usual AGM and slide show - if you have slides taken 10-20 years ago
on meets so much the better.
Sunday Meet at Dylife on
the roadside (GR 860940) 10am. There is much to see, including the 60ft
wheelpit, deep adit and various things in Engine Dingle, hard at work 200 years
ago. Lunch - bring your own, or at the Star Inn nearby. 2.30pm
Geufron Copper Mine (GR 884856), via a very picturesque route from
Dylife. Parking here is a bit of a problem, so the fewer cars the better.
(Our meets are getting too popular for the geography).
Autumn Meet 11/12
September. Based on the Royal Sportsman Hotel, 131 High Street,
Portmadoc, Gwynedd. (01766 512015) Leader George Hall.
Meet at llam at the Old Chapel, Drwsycoed, (GR 54185344) Harold Morris leading.
Please book your evening meal with the enclosed form by 1st
September. Slides etc. welcome for Saturday evening.
Sunday 10am visit to Sygun Copper Mine Beddgelert for an
(optional) underground trip at reduced rates. Then on to Llwyn Ddu and Cwm
Buchan, led by Richard Amies.
Note Both trips are remote from pubs,
so please bring your own refreshments.
2 MORE GOLD IN WALES
Headlines in the Cambrian News 4th February,
announced that Cambrian Goldfields has renewed its licence on 154 square
kilometres from Dolgellau to Bala. John Mason the mineral expert is
involved, along with Simon Hughes. Ken Williamson is the front man, and
according to him 'we have found a fair amount of gold in the area'. No
doubt, but the question is, can it be made to pay? At any rate, we wish
Chairman: DAVID BICK, The Pound House, Newent,
Secretary/Treasurer: DAVID ROE, 20
Lutterburn Street, Ugborough, Ivybridge, Devon. PL21 ONG
3 LESS GOLD IN WALES
Another newspaper report, date uncertain,
refers to concrete dams being built at Gwynfynydd, now closed, to prevent
effluent reaching the River Mawddach. There are also worries about bats,
so how the two can be reconciled is indeed an interesting dilemma for the
authorities. But presumably there will still be access from the old slopes
coming up to daylight, or will these be blocked up as well?
Note Thanks are
due to David Seabourne for the above two items.
4 OLD GOLD IN WALES
Someone phoned me recently about a man named
SKEY who founded a chemical business over 200 years ago in the Midlands, and is
reputed to have been refining Welsh gold. If so, where did it come
from? I put him in touch with George Hall who was most interested.
5 PLATINUM IN THE HEBRIDES
According to The Guardian 12th
February, platinum has been found on the Isle of Run. Researchers from the
Camborne School of Mines have found high-grade seams, but only lcm thick in
igneous rocks, not rich enough to pay. Still worth seeing, if not worth
going to see.
6 MORE RARE MINERALS IN MID-WALES
The region is getting quite a
reputation for rare minerals, though often you need a lens or even a microscope
to see them, rendering their appeal to most of us somewhat academic.
However Mary Hyde has drawn my attention to a paper by John Mason in the UK
Journal of Mines & Minerals, No.19, with details of Cobalt, Nickel,
Antimony, Silver and Gold occurrences. It seems many of the rich silver
ores worked in the 17th century comprised some tetrahedrite containing up to 20%
silver. Tucekite, an extremely rare mineral, has been found at several
mines around Eaglebrook, and is a nickel antimony sulphide. And there is
Millerite in hair like strands, at Brynrafr and elsewhere to the east.
Many of the more exotic Welsh minerals are secondary in nature and are forming
all the time, so that the old idea of taxing minerals like a growing crop was
not entirely without foundation.
7 CWM DWYFOR COPPER MINE (GR 541505)
This venture was a disaster,
as is related in The Old Copper Mines of Snowdonia. The plant came
up for sale in 1879, including winching drums and inclined rollers.
However, it may not have been sold, as appears from a letter from William
Kellow to G J Gray dated 22nd June 1881, as follows (Ref NLW Crosier Slate
Quarry letter book Vol. 1).
"I went over to the mine yesterday. There
is a large quantity of rubbish to be removed if you only want a small opening,
say just enough to allow the water out and a man to get in. It could
perhaps be done for 30/-, but I noticed that there was a wagon in the POW
machine house and it would no doubt be better to bring it up and take up, say, a
few of the rails to the Cwm Dwyfor end of the railway and clear it all out
systematically large enough to put a wagon in. If there are rails in the
level the value of these would be sufficient to pay for the total cost which
would be perhaps £3. Which of these two will you have done?"
anyone throw any light on this? Note From this, it appears the
railway went right into the mine - DEB. Thanks are due to Adrian Barrell
for the reference.
8 CERIDIGION DEVELOPMENT PLAN Page 2
Peter Claughton has kindly sent the
"In January/February of last year I made representations
on behalf of the society, to Ceredigion County Council in respect of their Local
The council policy failed to acknowledge the importance of the mining
landscape in Special Landscape Areas - Dyfi, Rheidol, Teifi and Ystwyth valleys,
and the Cambrian Mountains - and in the Historic Landscape of upland Ceredigion,
as registered by CADW//ICOMOS. A primary objection was that the stated aim
of the council to 'reclaim' mine sites, as embodied in the upland landscape of
Ceredigion in general and mining landscapes in particular. The full text
of the objections can be seen on http://people.exeter.ac.uk/pfclaugh/mhinf/cered_lp.htm
or from Peter Claughton, Blaenpant Morfil, Rosebush, Clynderwen, Pembs.
Those representations were accepted for consideration.
However on 1st February 1999 the council decided to abandon the Local Plan and
move directly to formulating their Unitary Development Plan (UDP). The new
plan will cover the same issues and we are assured that 'the representations
received to the Local Plan will be considered by the Planning Committee and will
be used to inform the preparation of the UDP.
The wheels of local government are, as usual, moving slowly but I shall stick
with this one in order to put across the society's views. To that end, if
any member has any comments to make please contact me.”
9 WINSFORD ROCKSALT MINE, CHESHIRE
Recently I went to the Rocksalt
Museum at Winsford with John Bennett - a very interesting visit. Did you
know that the first shaft was sunk in 1844, and the last in 1973? The
working face is 25 feet high and each blast brings down 1400 tons of salt.
Production is 2½ million tons a year, mainly it appears, to be spread on the
roads in icy weather. We had hoped to arrange an underground trip for the
WMS, but parties are limited to 12, and they are heavily oversubscribed. I can
provide more details if you want them.
10 ROMAN AZURITE MINE
According to Martin Strassburger, the Romans
were mining copper ore in Germany not for copper metal, but for blue
pigments. This is very interesting because so often it is automatically
assumed that any ancient copper mine was solely for copper, and for no other
purpose. Historical metallurgists, please note.
11 NEOLITHIC IRON-ORE MINES IN THE BLACKFOREST
Two sites have been
found where hematite was mined, with c14 dates around 5,000BC. There are
in fact much older hematite mines in Africa - used for pigments, cosmetics or
12 THE SOMERSET COALFIELD
Geoff Fitton writes to say that the
Somerset IA Society has published a 68pg booklet on the Somerset collieries by
Shane Gould. There are 30 illustrations and a list of sites. Post
free at £6.95 from Geoff at Giles Cottage, Hill Lane, Brent Knoll TA9 4DF (Of
course, had he sent me a free copy there would have been a more detailed
13 THE INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY AND INDUSTRIAL HISTORY OF SW ENGLAND: A
Whether this mouthful is worth the £30 purchase price I
cannot say, but it runs to 272pages, and is a hardback with nearly 4000
references. But will they produce one on Wales? For more details
ring Merton Priory Press 01222 521956
14 OCHRE MINES AT WICK, NEAR BRISTOL
Mike Breakspear is co-author
of a paper on these unusual workings, published in BIAS Journal 31,1998.
The ochre beds were extensive but shallow, rather like a coal seam or so it
appears. Operations began about 1890 and ended about 1970. Nothing
remains to be seen of the mines themselves, and neither is much known of the
workings, though there must be old miners still alive who worked there.
15 DELABOLE SLATE QUARRY, CORNWALL
In a periodical called
Stone, October 1996, we learn that Delabole belongs to RTZ, with a
turnover of one million pounds annually. The quarry is 435 feet deep and
1½ mile round, and goes back 1000 years. We also learn that
weathering extends 200ft deep and material above is no use, prompting the
question, how was the good stuff ever found in the first place? (This is not
explained in the article). Much of the output however, is not for slate
roofs, but for tiles made of slate dust. The dust also serves as a filler
in all sorts of products, though whether Delabole dust is better than N Wales
dust is not recorded.
16 MINING HISTORY NETWORK HOMEPAGE
We are grateful to Jeremy
Wilkinson for forwarding information on the Mining History Network
which contains a wealth of information on (among many things) British and Irish
mining, coal mining, various mining history groups, and an index of mining
17 PHENRHOS ENGINEHOUSE, BRYMBO Page 3
This rare survivor, possibly
pre-1790's, has been well restored as a result of Welsh Mines Preservation Trust
initiatives, the local authority and grants. A plaque illustrated by the
well known industrial artist Michael Blackmore is to be erected with details of
history and operation, and perhaps before long the WMS will be in the district
again, giving opportunity to see the results.
18 VALEDICTORY NOTE
This is your editor's last epistle before
handing over to Mike Munro. I should like to thank all those who have
contributed to these pages over the last 20 years, and hope long to enjoy my
successor's offerings. As his first publication will be in January 2000
perhaps we should call him "Millennium Mike". But in any event, please
give him your best support - without it the newsletter will be the poorer for us
David Bick May 1999 Pound House, Newent, Glos. GLI8 IPS (01531
19 NEW ELECTRONIC EDITOR
Mike Munro can be contacted by
audio-electronic technology on Tel. 01446 748 690 or on email@example.com from inside your PC.
Please take some time to fill in the Newsletter Questionnaire and return to
Mike (via post)
20 REMINDER OF NAMHO MEETS
a) NAMHO 2000 14/18 July, Truro,
Cornwall. Hosted by Carn Brae Mining Society and the Camborne School of
Mines this is the first international NAMHO conference and will be on the theme
of "Acquire, Record and Display". For details phone Lawrence Holmes 0I872
b) NAMHO Forest of Dean Meet 24/27 September. Free Mining in
Dean and other Traditional Mining Rights Areas’. Details available from
Robin Weare, Brook House, Llandevaud, Newport NP6 2AA
21 WMS MEMBERSHIP
Annual membership is £4, (or to ease
administration - £8 for 2 years). The paid up date is shown on your address
label - and if you are overdue I attempt to highlight the date in red.
If you are "paid up to DEC 1998" or before then you are overdue and your
treasurer would be most grateful if you could pay promptly.
The address for
subscription is c/o David Roe 20, Lutterbum Street, Ugborough, Ivybridge, Devon
PL21 ONG (01752 896432).
22 WMS INSURANCE
In the last Newsletter I set out my concerns over
the cost for insurance. The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers
(BTCV) have accepted our membership under the description "The specific
activities include clearing sites, repairs to buildings and other structures,
site visits and field trips with up to 80 members in attendance.
Additionally a limited number of our members undertake underground exploration
of mines "
As a layman I interpret the policy as follows, but I emphasise that I
am a layman and the following should be read with that fact clearly in
mind. If you want further information I can provide the BTCV booklet which
gives a more precise explanation.
In summary the insurance covers WMS members for Public Liability
and Personal Accident while on official WMS activities as follows:
Public Liability £5,000,000 any one occurrence. Injury, loss or
damage to other people or property resulting in legal liability to pay
compensation and costs. Members can claim against one another should this
arise. Deliberate acts resulting in loss or damage are excluded.
Personal Accident £5,000,000 any one occurrence. Unfortunately
this excludes members over 85 years of age. Exclusions also include
attempting to commit suicide (this as always been regarded as bad form when on
Field Meetings), excessive alcohol, power driven machinery, work in active
quarries or mines or below ground, and finally using a bouncy castle.
The above obviously requires proper Health and Safety precautions to be taken
at all times - particularly when underground. Members involved in advanced
mine exploration involving rock climbing techniques should not hang on to their
electron ladders by their teeth in the mistaken belief that they are insured if
the 20 WMS members below are crushed when they fall off! Page 4
David Roe 26/05/99