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Bro Trefaldwyn Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

Bro Trefaldwyn

Industrial Landscapes

The earliest industrial activity in the area dates to the early Bronze Age, and is represented by shallow quarry scoops in the area to the north of Cwm-mawr and Cabbulch farms, Hyssington, which probably represent the source of volcanic rock known as picrite that was used for the manufacture of distinctive types of shafthole battle axes and axe hammers whose distribution is largely focused on the upper Severn area, but extends as far as central Scotland and the tip of the Cornish peninsular. The implements were produced by a technique of slow and gradual pecking, and consequently it seems likely that, rather being manufactured on site, the implements were perhaps fashioned at the home base, possibly as a form of cottage industry, from suitably sized pieces of rock removed from the hillside.

Quarrying for building stone and road stone played a small but significant part of the economy of the area in the later medieval and post-medieval periods. Until perhaps the later 17th century a majority of buildings and defensive structures were of earth and timber, apart from a handful of churches such as Chirbury and Montgomery where 13th-century fabric survives, and a small number of masonry castles, notably the 13th-century Montgomery Castle, together with a number of lesser castles where stone structures are said to survive. The site of medieval quarries is unknown, though small quarries are widely scattered throughout the area, working deposits of shale in the area west of Montgomery and to the north and east of Forden, and igneous rocks in the area of Marrington Dingle, to the north of Churchstoke and to the south of Hyssington, some for building stone, particularly in the later 17th and 18th centuries, and some for road stone during the later 18th and 19th centuries. Small-scale gravel quarrying was also undertaken in the Chirbury-Walcot area. Other extractive industries in the area included small-scale barytes mining on the southern and western sides of Roundton Hill which had ceased production by the end of the 19th century.

The use of brick as a building material gradually superseded the use of both timber and stone from the mid 18th-century onwards, the earliest brick building in the area being the mansion, now demolished, erected by Lord Herbert of Chirbury built a new brick mansion in the inner ward of Montgomery Castle in the 1620s. Small-scale production, possibly for no more than one or two buildings in the later 17th and 18th centuries is represented by small clay pits or by field-names indicating a former brick kiln, recorded in the tithe apportionment, as for example to the west of Pen-y-bryn Hall, to the west of Gwern-y-go, to the north of Gunley Hall, to the south-east of Rhiew Goch, west of Montgomery, and near The Meadows, the early 19th-century house at the Meadows having been built from bricks made on the site. The farmhouse and large complex of farm buildings at Nantcribba were likewise built from local bricks produced on the Leighton Estate, some being stamped with the initials of John Naylor who established the estate. Larger-scale production centres, though still on a scale meeting little more than local needs, were established at Stalloe and Caemwgal to the north of Montgomery, in the area to the north of Chirbury, on the west side of Churchstoke and at Owlbury, near Snead, based on deposits of glacial boulder clay in the valley bottoms. The local brickworks continued in production in some instances into the latter part of the 19th century, eventually failing to compete with the cheaper products from further afield which were arriving by rail and then by road. A number of the works also produced drainage pipes for which there was a particular local demand during the 19th century to assist in the drainage of the low-lying wetlands and marshes along the Camlad and Caebitra valleys. The brickworks at Churchstoke also produced flowerpots and vases. Possibly only at Stalloe do any remain.

Relatively little other manufacturing was undertaken in the area in the post-medieval period, though there are a small number of light industrial units in a number of places today, as at Hen Domen, Montgomery and Forden. A number of small-scale craft industries were undertaken in the past, including smithing, represented by former blacksmiths shops at Chirbury, Hyssington, Forden, Stockton, Cwm Cae and Churchstoke, some of which still remain.

Water power was exploited by numerous corn and flour mills built on many of the major streams and tributaries throughout the area - on the Caebitra, the upper Camlad to the east of Churchstoke, along Marrington Dingle, and the lower Camlad west of Chirbury. Medieval mills of late 12th and 13th centuries are known from documentary evidence at Walcot, Churchstoke and at Stalloe, near Montgomery, and at Gwern-y-go, several of the mills being granted to the canons of the Augustinian priory at Chirbury and the mill at Gwern-y-go forming part of the Cistercian grange of Cwmhir abbey. The sites of many of the medieval mills is uncertain, though some are assumed to underlie later mill complexes that were working in the 18th to early 20th centuries. A number of mills, including those at Bacheldre, Pentre, Mellington and Broadway appear to have been rebuilt or renewed in the 16th or early 17th centuries. These, like their medieval predecessors, were probably timber-framed buildings, none of which have survived, being generally replaced in stone during the later 17th and earlier 18th centuries, and by brick mill buildings in the later 18th and 19th centuries. The setting up of a mill at all periods required a significant investment in resources, not only for the mill buildings but also for weirs, sluices, leats and millponds which harnessed the water that drove the machinery. The medieval mill at Gwern-y-go appears to have been fed by a leat up to 1km long known as the 'Grange Ditch', carrying water from the Caebitra. Bacheldre Mill was fed by a leat up to about 800m taken from the Caebitra further downstream. A number of the later mills were set up as fulling mills or walkmills, including a number of mills in Marrington Dingle. Many of the mills failed keep pace with competition and went out of production during the 18th and 19th centuries, whilst others diversified into other activities. Bacheldre was at one time used for malting, and in the mid 19th century was also used as a dyeing mill. Mellington Mill was converted to produce coarse paper in the 18th century, but had been demolished by the end of the century. Many of the mills had ceased production by the end of the 19th century, though others such as Pentre Mill, Gaer Mill and Broadway Mill continued in production until the first half of the 20th century. The only surviving working mill is at Bacheldre. Other mill buildings having either been demolished or converted to other uses, though indications of former leats and millponds are still traceable at many sites.

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