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Report - Aldersons & Herberts Adits, Cwmystwyth Lead Mine, Mid Wales - March 2014

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by cunningcorgi, Mar 16, 2014.

  1. cunningcorgi

    cunningcorgi 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Apr 12, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Visited with two non members.


    After mining ceased at Cwmystwyth the site became derelict and land ownership passed to the Crown Estate. In 2012 they spent a great deal of money on safety and consolidation work before transferring the whole site to the Cambrian Mines Trust after a lot of persuasive work by Roy Fellows.

    With the transfer of the site to the Trust, a number of previously closed adits have been opened. The Trust is 'dedicated to the preservation and restoration of such remains and has the power to reopen and recreate for the benefit of the public, mines, quarries, pits, levels, drives and drifts, both surface and underground associated features, and where appropriate to promote and set up museums, visitor centres and visual and aural aids in connection therewith.'

    Cwmystwyth Mines probably constitute the most important mining site in central Wales, and just like many other sites have something of a chequered history making fortunes for some while bankrupting others. The first recorded history starts in 1184, however stone hammer and mauls discovered on Copa Hill to the east have been attributed to the Romans.

    The early mining was controlled by the Abbot of Strata Florida Abbey but it wasn’t until the Elizabethan formation of the Society of Mines Royal that the first intensive mining started. Under the society there were several lease holders including the ubiquitous Sir Hugh Myddleton and Thomas Bushell. In 1693 the Mines Royal Act ended the monopoly of the society and laid the way open to the Company of mine Adventurers under Mackworth and Waller.

    In 1759 the mines passed into the hands of Chauncey Townsend who engaged the services of Thomas Bonsall from Derdyshire to manage the mines. Bonsall stayed on after the death of Townsend in 1770 working the mines for Townsends son who inherited the lease, later in 1785 he took on the lease himself. Bonsall did quite well out of the job regularly earning £2000 a year out of Cwmystwyth, Castell, and Rhiwrugos mines which he also owned.

    A lot of the well known works are attributable to Bonsall, and towards the end of the 18th century his earnings had reached £2000 to £3000 a year from Kingside and Pughes mines alone. He was also responsible for Bonsalls level and Level Fawr. Bonsall died in 1807 and the lease passed to his son, and then was taken over by the Alderson Brothers from Swaledale and James Raw who has local descendants.

    Unfortunately the price of lead plunged in the 1830s and the Aldersons were declared bankrupt. The lease was then taken by Lewis Pugh of Aberystwyth who had the luck of the devil as metal prices started to soar immediately and he made a fortune from stocks of ore in hand when he took over the lease.

    In 1848 John Taylor of Norwich took over the mines, another for his collection. The mine was being worked on the cost book system and in 1885 after a period of poor output the mines passed to a new company ‘The Cwmystwyth Company’. Almost immediately the mine was split between two concerns ‘The New Cwmystwyth Company’ and ‘The Kingside Mining Company’ who worked the mines until 1892 and 1893 respectively.

    In 1900 the mines were taken over by The Cwmystwyth Mining Company Ltd under Henry Gammon who poured a fortune into development work and investment n new plant and machinery; however the new company struggled badly to make it pay. In 1905 the company was reformed as Kingside Zinc Blende Ltd but still struggled to turn a profit. By 1909 Gammon had blown all his money in the place but managed to attract Brunner Mond to invest in his existing company.

    In 1912 the mine was again split into two sections, with part being taken over by The May Mining Company formed by one of the old mine captains John Howell Evans in partnership with a Charles Stocks. This company is notable in one of the few metal mining concerns that used Kell Drills developed by Moses Kellow of the Kelldrill Works at Croesor Slate Mine near Blaenau Ffestiniog.

    Kellow was another Cornishman in Wales being born at Delabole in 1862. Besides being the owner of the Kelldrill Company he was manager of the quarry. These drills worked on hydraulic pressure using water, and are arguably the most powerful rock drills ever produced. High pressure water acted on a Pelton turbine, later a reaction turbine, which drove the shaft of the drill by elliptic gears. The drill developed 55h.p. and was twice as efficient as a modern rock drill.

    History was to repeat itself however and these two companies went to the wall in 1915 and 1916 respectively.

    In 1916 two gentlemen named Thomas and Stocks managed to form a new company Cwm Ystwyth Mines Ltd which struggled on until 1923 when the mines passed into the hands of the British Metal Corporation. In 1925 the mines were being worked by a partnership of a Craig and Herbert and finally The Gallois Lead and Zinc Mines Ltd until 1950 when the mines were finally abandoned.

    Eventually the ownership of the land and mines passed into the hands of the Crown Estate who in 2012 spent a great deal on money consolidating the remaining buildings, and then in 2013 whole site was acquired by Cambrian Mines Trust the present owners.

    History courtesy of cambrianmines.co.uk


    With a few days off, instead of going to Cheltenham and losing the shirt off my back backing Irish horses, I decided to make a long overdue visit to Cwmystwyth to see what was now open. I didn't really intend to take any photos as it was more a visit to see the lie of the land but after lugging ourselves all the way the side of the mountain to Aldersons and Herberts, I decided to get the camera out. It was a lovely morning starting out but by the time we got in, a heavy mist had descended, some of which followed us into the mine, especially in Herberts where the stope goes to the surface.

    Herberts adit was driven northwest to intersect the Kingside Lode around 1670 while Aldersons adit was driven beneath Herberts to drain the old stopes and to open up more ground allegedly in 1825. John Taylor and son had an incline constructed to assist with exploratory work in the two adits in 1870.

    1. Heading into Aldersons

    2. Drive towards Herberts

    3. Stopeage

    4. Waterfall

    5. Bend

    6. Colour

    7. End of the drive

    8. Entering Herberts

    9. Rock on false floor

    10. High

    11. Approaching the open stope

    12. Herberts Stope

    13. View back

    14. Under the stope

    15. End of the line

    Thanks for looking !

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  2. The Wombat

    The Wombat Mr Wombat
    Regular User

    Oct 14, 2012
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    Excellent shots -especially the reflections in No8 Herberts
  3. The Kwan

    The Kwan Easily Led
    Regular User

    Mar 28, 2011
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    Some sexy stope action here Mr CC, lovely photos and its quite some place :thumb
  4. Morrisey

    Morrisey 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Apr 8, 2007
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    I too still need to get my ass over to have a look. Good set of photos.

    PS, I always thought the Irish had the all the inside info when it came to the Gold Cup?
  5. Dark Prince

    Dark Prince 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Apr 4, 2006
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    Number 12.....the only bit of underground to make me speechless when i first saw it!.

  6. cunningcorgi

    cunningcorgi 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Apr 12, 2011
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    Cheers all !

    Isn't it just some place indeed - bleak, in the middle of no where but very inspiring !

    Well someone usually has but unfortunatly I keep missing them at the bar !

    After 20+ years though, spending £60 to get into a glorified AC/DC mosh pit, paying nearly £5 for a pint (more a half by the time you get away from the bar) of warm piss and funding the bookies winter break in the Bahamas, I decided enough was enough !
  7. hughball

    hughball 28DL Member
    28DL Member

    May 4, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Nice Pics. Thanks. History of mining at Cwmstwyth goes back at least 2000 BC. The Cambrian Mines Trust has updated (or even down dated) its website .
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