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Archiver > POWYS > 1999-01 > 0915645176

From: "Barry James Price" <>
Subject: Lead Mining, Plynlimmon
Date: Wed, 6 Jan 1999 09:52:56 -0800

In Response to a query by Glyn Barrett
Re Plynlimmon Mine


I checked my books on lead mining in Wales and have the following
information on Plynlimmon Mine:

The Old Metal Mines of Mid-Wales
Part 2 Cardiganshire - The Rheidol to Goginan
DAVID E. BICK, B.Sc., M.I.Mech.E.
First published 1975 Revised edition 1983
Copyright David E Bick


The first to attract our attention is PLYNLIMMON (795856) to which a long
and rough cart track ascends from Eisteddfa Gurig. Within the shadow of the
highest mountain in Mid-Wales, its situation at 1800 ft above sea level is
bleak in the extreme, with shocking weather for much of the year. Even so,
drought often brought the water-powered machinery to a stand, so that one
way or another the elements played havoc with operations both above ground
and below. Under such conditions a considerable output of lead ore (3270
tons) was nevertheless achieved.*

The mine commenced production in 1866, after a working miner found solid
galena about 3 inches wide in the stream. Results were immediate and highly
promising; the adit penetrated 155 fathoms in good ore and when a new
company took possession in 1870, about 1000 tons had already been sold, with
one foot of galena still showing in the 12 fathom level. A new 50 ft
diameter water wheel started work on 26th October 1870 and the old 40 if
wheel thenceforth served for crushing and drawing. But water supplies proved
so unreliable that within a year an 18 inch horizontal steam engine costing
700 was installed and connected by gearing to the pumping wheel.

Captain John Garland succeeded John Paull as manager in February 1873-a
position which the latter was no doubt glad enough to relinquish. In
addition to the shortage of power, great difficulty persisted in attracting
labour to so desolate a spot, where the lack of a nearby public house
presented ' a grievous fault in the eyes of the miners '.

At the 1875 A.G.M. it was admitted that the steam engine had proved totally
useless, having almost shaken the pumping wheel to pieces, and in -the
October a breakage occurred in the line of flat rods to the new shaft (sunk
on rising ground to the east). Hardly was this repaired when the balance bob
broke in two. However these setbacks were minor compared to lack of water
for pumping, and for long periods flooding rendered the bottoms unworkable.

Although 38,000 of ore had been raised by the end of 1876. Plynlimmon still
failed to pay costs and a new concern took over in the following year.
Previously the winzes below the 24 fathom level were drained by the
primitive expedient of man power, which was soon replaced by a system of
wire ropes from the SO ft wheel to pumps via the adit. Further troubles
included the bursting of the reservoir in December 1876. But by now, lead
prices were on the verge of decline, and twelve years of struggle ended in
1878 when the 36 fathom level turned out poorer than expected.

*In general. the ore production figures quoted in Parts 1-4 date from
commencement of official returns in 1845 as given by O.T. Jones.

In spite of the record, Plynlimmon revived a few years later and yielded 195
tons of ore between 1887 and 1891. Apart from a little further work in 1895
it has lain dormant ever since.

Today the dumps (still with good specimens of galena) point like some giant
finger down the valley. with the shafts, tramroads and wheelpits forming
their own memorial to one of the most discouraging mine sites in Wales.

Another good source is:

Lead Mining in Wales
University of Wales Press
Cardiff 1967 415 pp.

I did not find the name Gollings in any of the publications.

There are a great number of mines in the Plynlimmon area. Most of the
information concerns the history of the mines and the owners and promoters,
such as Sir Humphrey Mackworth, Carbery Pryse, Thomas Bushell and the
various mine captains. Some of the more productive mines such as
Cumystwith, Goginian, Esgair Hir, etc. have a great deal of interesting
history. If you find out exactly where your relative worked I can dig a
little deeper.

I visited the area about 1984 and visited a mining museum at Llywernog and
Ponterwyd. I don't know if the museum has a website or not.

I have a map that shows the location of the Plylimmon area mines, and the
museum handouts have a good brief history. Let me know if this is of
interest and I could fax or mail it to you

Barry Price, M.Sc., P.Geo
Consulting Geologist
Vancouver, BC Canada

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