Cymraeg / English
Historic Landscape Characterisation
The Elan Valley:
Llanwrthwl Community, Powys
Dispersed copper and lead mining landscape of the mid to late 19th century in the Claerwen valley and adjacent upland stream valleys, comprising the Nant y Car North, Nant y Car South, Dalrhiw and Nantygarw mining sets.
Historic background and key historic landscape characteristics
Upland valley with remains of four separate mining sets, worked in the mid to late 19th century, Nant y Car North, near the south bank of the Claerwen, Dalrhiw and Nant y Car South mines on opposite banks of the Rhiwnant, and Nantygarw mine on the Nant-y-carw stream about a kilometre further west, producing copper, lead and zinc ores.
Dalrhiw occupies a fairly small area on the south side of the stream, on gently sloping ground, with the valley side rising steeply to rocky outcrops above. Early workings at both Dalrhiw and Nant y Car North, dating from the mid 19th century, appear to have been a series of adits driven into the hillside on either side of the stream. Both Dalrhiw and Nant y Car were developed on a larger scale from about 1850, the main development at Nant y Car South taking place during the 1860s and 1870s. Between 1862 and 1867 Dalrhiw mine was worked by Parry and Company. Production at Dalrhiw continued until 1881.
The Nant y Car enterprise was wound-up in 1859 but in 1863 was taken over by B. B. Popplewell, and then successively by George Tetley in 1872, Mrs Tetley in 1875 and finally C. W. Seccombe in 1878. Around 1883 a new and richer lode was discovered at the head of the valley, which was developed by Seccombe as Nantygarw mine, leading to the abandonment of Nant y Car South. In September 1886 Seccombe sold his lease to the Builth Lead Mining Company and reports in 1888 refer to an adit and a level being worked, with the dressing of ore commencing later in the same year. The company was wound up in 1893. The property then appears to have been in the possession of George Green of Aberystwyth for a short time. Green, who owned the Cambrian Foundry supplying mining equipment to mines in mid-Wales and further afield, patented his ‘self-acting dressing machinery’, which included crusher rolls, jiggers, buddles and classifiers, installed in purpose-built mills powered by water. The remains of one of Green’s processing mills survive at Nantygarw, although they are difficult to interpret.
The Nantygarw Mining Company was registered in December 1893, and although little is known of the workings, 50 men were employed, suggesting a reasonably sizable enterprise. During the week the workforce would have been housed on site in barracks accommodation, the remains of which still survive. Despite the large returns the company went into liquidation in 1897 and although some activity continued until 1899, all work was then abandoned due to the construction of the Elan Valley reservoirs.
A wide variety of structures survive which illustrate the various processes involved in winning and processing the ore. Visible remains at Dalrhiw Mine include shafts, adits, horse whim circle, a substantial wheelpit for a 52 foot by 5 foot waterwheel, ore-bins and the remains of a small crusher house, the ruins of the mine office or manager’s house are sited on the banks of the stream, the remains of a small shelter or store and low earthworks of an enclosure which may have been used as a pound for horses employed at the whim or for the general transportation of ore. Visible remains at Nant y Car include a shaft and adits driven in from the banks of the stream, the foundations for the winding house, remains of a tramway to the top of a bank of two or possibly three ore-bins, a wheelpit for an ore crusher, and stone-revetted platforms for jiggers and the remains of two circular buddles for processing ore. Visible remains at Nantygarw comprise a stone-lined shaft, remains of a mine building, a large wheel-pit to house a water-wheel drawn driven by water from an adjacent stream, and the remains of buildings which housed the Green’s processing mill, a small circular buddle, platforms for jiggers, a smithy, possible housing for workers and an explosives magazine.
The remote location of the mine must have made the transportation of ore an important economic factor. Processed ores would have been transported by horse and cart down to the Claerwen valley and then over the mountains in the direction of Aberystwyth, though from 1864 rail transport was available from Rhayader, about 12 kilometres away.
Hall 1993; Jones, Walters & Frost forthcoming; Welsh Water (undated); Regional Sites and Monuments Record
For further information please contact the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust at this address, or link to the Countryside Council for Wales' web site at www.ccw.gov.uk.
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