Report - - Lefel Fawr, Cwmystwyth Lead Mine,Wales, June 2013 | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Lefel Fawr, Cwmystwyth Lead Mine,Wales, June 2013

The Kwan

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Posted here for the time being until the access procedures etc are sorted out.

I finally got to see this lovely mine and despite the 6 hour drive it was worthwhile.
Visited with Landsker, We explored the lower adit and after coming to a dead end we climbed to the top of the hill to look for the upper adit and access but despite a lung busting climb up the slope we didnt find it although we learned that it is called Graig Fawr and apparently the most spectacular open cast workings in Wales, it sure was beautiful and it is rumoured that upon finding the upper adit you can do a through trip right down to lefel fawr.

The biggest thing to strike me about this mine was discovering that the average life expectancy of the miners who worked here was just 32 years of age, thanks mainly to lead poisoning.

I have shamelessly stolen some history from Landsker


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.

and the miners barracks as they once stood (picture from wikipedia)


and today

The mine was not very large and consisted mainly of stopes and ladders

A bit of video from one visit

A notice left by a group of some sort

More ladders...there were a few

This was a near vertical skip way and alongside it was once a ladder, it stretches from the lowest level right to the top and was pretty impressive



There were some impressive stopes that needed some scale

it was pretty wet in parts

We arrived back at our cars just in time to see a boy racers perguot pull up and some tosser got out and was looking into the back of landskers Type R honda, and then clocked us and fucked off...PHEW..LUCKY!

thanks for looking.


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