Report - - South Wales Iron Mine, Glamorgan, April 2012 | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - South Wales Iron Mine, Glamorgan, April 2012


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The term 'mine' is used advisedly as although the workings of the four main entries commenced at the surface and progressed downwards following the haematite ore and could, therefore, be described as quarries, the extent of the workings eventually necessitated the linking-up of these below ground by a maze of caverns and staple shafts. Some of the caverns were eventually excavated to impressive dimensions - one being estimated to have been about 200ft long, 100ft wide and 70ft high and not a support in sight. The overall depth of the workings in 1884, at time of abandonment, was approximately 400ft. The main pit was some 120ft diameter at the surface.

Initially the mine was worked by sheer muscle power and the liberal use of black-powder with horse- powered windlass as the means for raising the ore and spoil from the depths. The ore was then transported by packhorses via tracks down the steep wooded hillside to the furnaces at an iron-works. The packhorses were to be replaced by a horse drawn tramway connecting to a lower level tramway.

Between 1842, with some fifty men and boys employed, and 1860 the mine received substantial investment. This included the driving of a 400yd long rock tunnel heading south-eastwards from the low level tramway to intersect the main working chamber some 200ft below the top surface level. This served as an easier and shorter horse drawn rail access to and from the mine and was situated close to the furnaces, doing away with the high level tramway. The tunnel also provided a much needed drainage outlet from the mine at this depth in conjunction with a Cornish beam pump to dewater the lower workings. In the early 1870's the output of ore from the mine was approx. 15,000 tons a year and capable of increase from caverns mined below the tunnel level together with some 265 tons of high-grade ochre, prepared at Melingriffith for sale to paint manufacturers in Bristol.

The mine was officially abandoned in June 1884 due to its inability to financially adapt to the new market for steel, by which time it is estimated some 700,000 tons of haematite had been removed by hand over the lifetime of the mine (some estimates are as high as 1,000,000 tons). From 1880 to 1884 the mine was producing only yellow ochre and operated by the liquidators producing 127 tons in 1880 and a mere 11 tons at time of closure.

In 1926 the mine was partly reopened on a short lease. This under-funded enterprise ceased eventually in 1936, after employing on average only 6 or 7 men, and the lease was taken over to mine the haematite but this venture also ceased within the same year. For another short spell in 1937 10 men were employed to mine haematite but this venture also fizzled out and the mine was left to re-flood. The mine enjoyed its final period of use during WW2 when it was used to store anti-aircraft shells etc in the high caverns, serviced by small diesel locos.

During the 1950?s local people with an interest in its history attempted to have the mine preserved as a tourist attraction but the then owners, weren't interested. A similar campaign during the 1990's to obtain Heritage protection for the site via the local MP and CADW also seems to have failed.


1. View down the main entrance adit.

2. Drill marks and calcite combine.

3. A pump still in situ in a side adit.

4. The pump pipe on a journey up the adit.

5. The pipe passes a platform and beyond that ?

6. Beyond that is a very, very deep blue lake within a chamber.

7. The pipe continues on upwards to an adjacent quarry.

8. View back across the lake to the chamber entrance.

9. The adit comes to an end as it has been backfilled.

10. Another substantial adit.

11. But yet again, this has been backfilled.

12. Calcite formations on the adit wall.

13. Calcite tears.

14. More adit wall colourisation.

15. The last look down the main adit before exiting.

Thanks for looking and any advice / comments most welcome.