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Powys Metal Mines Survey


Dylife lies in the community of Llanbrynmair in the county of Powys . It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SN85609390 . The mine is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 5648 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Dylife, CPAT photo                Lead/Zinc/Copper (Roman ?/17th c./18th c./19th c. to 1920s)

Lower Silurian Frongoch formation shales and mudstones. The Dylife lode divides into two other lodes just to the west of the village called the Llechwedd Ddu and Esgairgaled lodes. The main workings were carried out on the Llechwedd Ddu lode. Mineralisation includes copper, lead, zinc and silver.

The earliest workings consist of opencuts, levels trials and shafts on the north-western slopes of Pen Dylife opposite the Rhanc Y Mynydd cottages at SN85599388 followed by 17th & 18th century workings on the Esgairgaled lode in Nant Dropyns at SN85889418 and SN85799420 where two shafts (the Pencerig and the Esgairgaled) and two adits (the Pencerig deep and Pencerig shallow) can be seen. At the main Dylife workings area adjacent to the Afon Twymyn five shafts can be seen including Bradford's at SN85889403, Alfred's at SN85599389, Footway at SN85749395, Llechwedd Ddu Engine at SN85559392 and an unnamed shaft-mound at SN85609405. The inclined Llechwedd Ddu adit lies immediately south-west of Llechwedd Ddu shaft. Earlier opencuts and stopes breaking to the surface on the Llechwedd Ddu lode can be seen on the southern terrace immediately above, and parallel with, the Afon Twymyn. Trials to determine the western extent of the Dylife lode can be seen on the easternmost slopes of Y Grug at SN85109356 and SN85059350 and consist of shallow opencuts and shaft-mounds in two nearly parallel lines.

A number of tramways leading from the workings to the dressing floors exist within the valley bottoms of the Afon Twymyn and Nant Dropyns. The longest of these is now a public footpath through the main mine site on the north side of the Afon Twymyn and leads from the Red Wheel area to the main dressing floors, SN85599397 to SN86009400. Close to the ladder shaft remains of railway sleepers for ore wagons can be seen emerging from the surrounding spoil at SN85659395.

Two reservoirs exist on the Afon Twymyn which supplied power to the dressing floors, these are located at Pwll Rhydporthmwyn SN84759400 and the smaller reservoir at SN93908575. Two reservoirs are located on Nant Dropyns at SN853099450 from which three leats run eastwards on each side of the valley slopes. One of these leats drove the 63ft Red Wheel which was used for pumping and drawing at the Llechwedd Ddu Engine shaft, Alfred's shaft and Bradford's shaft by means of three split lines of reciprocating rods. The course of the leat can be traced both on the ground and on the first and second edition OS maps. A curious extension of this leat can be seen on the aerial photographs at SN85679402 running further west beyond the point where the Red Wheel launder connected. This was presumably to run water into the lower reservoir on the Afon Twymyn when the wheel was not in use and would have been controlled by a sluice close to the Red Wheel launder connection. The same leat initially supplied power to the Black Wheel and early processing machinery in Engine Dingle and later to the main dressing floors at Dylife by an extension from a point near Esgairgaled shaft. Another two leats to the main dressing floor area run along the south and north sides of the Afon Twymyn from Pwll Rhydporthmwyn. In later years the Red Wheel appears to have been driven by a leat running directly from Pwll Rhydporthmwyn as can be clearly seen on aerial photographs where this leat cuts across earlier leat earthworks. Overall the leat network at Dylife is very complex and clearly spans many periods of use. A detailed ground survey and transcription of information from aerial photographs would go a long way to solving the complexity. Two other waterwheels were used on the dressing floors. Two high pressure 'puffer' engines acted as standbys in case of drought at the Red Wheel and on the dressing floors, these were later replaced by larger engines. Bradfords shaft at SN85909405 was provided with a winding engine while Alfreds shaft at SN85709393 was drawn and pumped by the Red Wheel.

A full range of processing machinery was in use including 6 round buddles, a Zennor buddle, jiggers, 2 crushers and a stonebreaker plus other machinery. The main processing area SN86009399 is poorly preserved and much recent damage has been caused by the demolition of foundations to be used as hardcore in tracks elsewhere. Some timber from launders and buddles is evident close to the road bridge over the Afon Twymyn but has been partly destroyed by the use of heavy plant machinery in the area. Two wheelpits are visible on the dressing floor one of which has been partly destroyed at SN86039398 with a number of tie rods in situ. The other lies further to the west adjacent to the tramway and is filled with collapsed material SN85979398. All other building remains lie buried in collapsed material and spoil heaps.

Other features
The village of Dylife is essentially a mining village and all of the surviving buildings are of industrial interest. These include the demolished church and graveyard SN86119403, the Star Inn public house SN86309403, the miners cottages and their associated allotment gardens at Rhanc Y Mynydd SN85509400. Originally there were four inns, several chapels and a school. The present Machynlleth mountain road was probably constructed after 1864 to carry transport goods from Llanbrynmair railway station. The foundations of a smithy are visible close to the dressing floors at SN86009398.

This HTML page is reproduced from the Powys and Clwyd Metal Mine Surveys which were undertaken between May 1992 and December 1993 by Mark Walters and Pat Frost of the Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust with financial support from Powys County Council, Clwyd County Council and Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments. Further information about this site is available in CPAT's Regional Historic Environment Record.
Page produced by Rachel Stebbings and Chris Martin.