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History & records

History of the Cardiganshire Mines,

from the Earliest Ages, and Authenticated History to A.D.1874, with their present position and prospects


Absalom Francis,

Mining Agent, Engineer, and Surveyor.

Goginan, Aberystwyth, 1874

In coming southward we next approach the


which is supposed to be the Penffrwdd Goch Mine, which was described as having been left very rich in lead ore, some few fathoms from the surface, in accounts written by different parties more than a century ago. Seven or eight years since, some old workings were cleaned from surface some 10 fathoms deep, and a rib of almost solid lead ore found at the bottom. This was accomplished by means of a small water-wheeel, and a 4-inch lift of pumps. Very little has been done here, but the ground taken or worked away yielded a sufficient quantity of ore to leave a good margin of profits if the mine were worked on an extensive scale. So little has been done on this property, that you can only form your conclusions from the results obtained. To try the property fairly a capital of not less than £5,000 should be raised, and I have no hesitation in saying that if this sum were judiciously laid out, that a profitable and lasting mine would be established. We next come to the


which is situate about one-fourth of a mile north of a village known by that name. It has been extensively worked at surface, and for some fathoms below an adit level, driven in from the mail road, leading from Aberystwith to Shrewsbury, and from it good quantities of blende and copper ores have been extracted. With the present price of blende ore, and with good machinery erected, which would cost from £2,000 to £3,000, the mine might be made to pay some profits, but in my opinion is never likely to become very remunerative or extensive. We next approach the


situate to the west of the village of Tre'rddol, about three-fourths of a mile, and in close proximity to Cardigan Bay. In fact, it stands further west than any other mineral property which has been worked in the county. It stands in a bog, or marshy ground, and consequently no adit level could be driven. It has been extensively worked for a long period, and large quantities of lead ore obtained from it. It was last worked about fifteen years ago by means of a steam engine, but the company lost a considerable sum of money on closing their affairs. It has since been wrought by different companies, and is still working. In my opinion, althoughj the lodes seem to be strong, they do not make a sufficient body of ore, where and when met with, which generally occurs at junctions with lodes or branches in the grant, to pay the expenses attending on developing the property, and I should not feel inclined to invest in it. The mine has reached a depth of about 40 fathoms from surface, and is on the Gogerddan property. We next approach the


which has been worked extensively at surface for a great length, on several lodes, as far back as 100 years ago. About 30 years ago it was taken up and worked by a London company, who erected good and powerful machinery, and sunk the mine on the main lode to a depth of 30 fathoms under the adit. At the deeper levels, contrary to expectations, the veins produced a smaller quantity of lead ore than was found in the shallower workings, and after a spirited trial for years the company wound up with a loss of many thousand pounds. It was then worked by the name of Bryn-Arian (anglicè Silver Hill). After this date, about 15 years ago, it was again tried by a party of gentlemen from Leeds, and ended in a similar manner to that company also, who lost many thousands of pounds in it. It is now being worked by some London gentlemen, and I cannot think that the old proverb of "The third time lucky" is going to be achieved by this company, but that it will end similarly to Nos. 1 and 2. The Pensarn mine is also in this grant, and has been worked by the same companies. In this part of the property, which stands to the west of Bryn-Arian, an engine shaft has been sunk on the Pensarn lode to a depth of 50 fathoms, and rich ore found, but the bunches are short and very unreliable, and in my opinion would only incur a loss if worked separately from the other portion of the mine. We next come to the


situate in the village of Taliesin about eight miles north-east of Aberystwith. This has been worked for more than a century near the surface, and about 30 years ago, under the name of Pwll Roman, received a good trial, which was made by a London company. The mine was sunk to about 20 fathoms under adit, and good and rich deposits of copper ore were found, in quantities, however, that entailed a considerable loss on its working, and that company wound up their affairs sustaining a heavy loss. It was again tried about 15 years since by a Leeds company, and good copper raised, but a like result attended their efforts as those of the Pwll Roman Mine Company. It is now at work, and good copper and lead is being obtained from it. The character of the lode is good, and I am inclined to believe that if the engine shaft were sunk 20 fathoms deeper, and levels extended eastward, that good results would follow. To prove the mine thoroughly a capital of £5,000 should be raised. The next mine to be treated of is the


This has been worked most extensively for some centuries past, and large quantities of plate made from the silver obtained from the ores extracted from these works, more than a hundred years ago, are to be seen at the mansion of J.M.Davies, Esq., of Penpompren. The main or Penpompren vein has been worked away for more than half a mile in length, over different adit levels, the deepest of which has been driven west on the course of the lode, about one-third of a mile above and to the north of Penpompren Mansion. The ground above this adit in places is as much as 60 fathoms high, and the quantity of lead ore that has been taken from it at different periods has been very great. In going westward on the course of this lode, after a back of 60 fathoms has been obtained, the ground again falls rapidly, and an adit level in this direction at the same depth has been started to go forward to meet the adit level just described. The distance between these adits is nearly a mile, and there is no doubt that by continuing them an immense quantity of profitable ground will be opened out, more especially at the points of junction, of which there are no less than five between the two adits. I consider this one of the champion lodes of cardiganshire, and is the same as the celebrated Esgair Hir Mine. We next come to the


in which there are three lodes, which all run into, and form a junction with the main lode of Penpompren. At these junctions good courses of lead and copper are found both on the Penpompren and the Penybank and Erglwydd lodes. These mines are very old ones, and have undoubtedly been worked, during different periods, for the last two hundred years. About 35 years ago, I recollect these workings, which were sunk about 11 fathoms under the adit level driven in northward from the south side of the hill, having been cleared and sunk on as far as the water would permit, without the aid of machinery. The vein is from six to eight feet wide, and is well filled with blended, copper, and lead ore, the matrix being a good gossan and crystallised spar. I recollect also to the west of these workings, in trenching for veins, that several stones of pure lead ore, locally termed "tumblers," were found near the Erglwydd farm-house; and in making the turnpike from Aberystwith to Machynlleth and Shrewsbury, some much larger pieces were found, and one of these weighed several tons, and was carried to Fronfraith, the seat of Sir Thomas Bonsall, and was crushed down and made marketable. I should fancy there must be a great deal of ore unexplored in this ground, and which will some time be found when proper trials are made for proving these mines, which are now granted with Penpompren. We next take the


which lies to the east of Alltycrib Mine, and between it and the Penybank and Erglwydd properties. This mine was formerly worked by means of adit levels, and a considerable quantity of lead ore extracted from it. Lately a company has been formed for giving it a trial, and a steam engine has been erected on it. I have examined the mine on many occasions. The lodes are not regular east and west veins, but what may more appropriately be termed caunter or counter lodes running about from 40 to 50 degrees south of East, and the same number of degrees north of west, until they enter the old Alltycrib Mine. That ore in considerable quantities may be extracted from this mine there is no question about; but that a sufficient quantity to meet the expenses of working it can be obtained is very doubtful to me, and it is one of those concerns that I should not consider as a desirable investment. Coming southward we next approach the old mine of


It is one of the oldest of the Cardiganshire Mines, and, I may safely say, it has been worked for many centuries past, and undoubtedly with varied success.

Some of the workings on the richest courses of ore have been worked to a greater depth by the old miners than any other mine that I am acquanted with in this county. There are many veins or lodes in this grant, which diverge from each other for some considerable distance, and then at about the same angle contract and fall into each other, and at these junctions they generally make some exceedingly good bunches of lead ore for some distance. This mine requires the utmost attention paid to its development, as the branches and lodes are continually twisting, and unless they are narrowly watched, may mislead the most experienced miner. The best instrument to get on with them is a constant reference to the dial.

I have seen broken from the surface, or very near the surface, one stone of lead ore that would make a percentage of 80, and about 13 oz. of silver to the ton, which weighed above 1½ tons, and a portion of this was sent to the Exhibition of 1851, weighing 17½ cwt. When first broken it was the finest stone of ore I ever saw in the county. This mine was worked very extensively in conjunction with Cwm Erfin, Cwm Ystwith, East Darren, and Old Goginan, by a Mr. Bushel, in the time of Charles I, who is reported to have loaned to that monarch £40,000, and to have equipped a small army in his defence. There can be no doubt that the mines of this county at the time I am speaking of were most extensively wrought near the surface by means of adit levels, and there can be no question that very large profits were derived from them long before that period. They have been worked continually during the past 50 years, and a great deal of work was carried on here about 40 years ago by a Flintshire company, who drove in a deep adit for 200 fathoms long; this adit came in 15 fathoms over the bottom of the old workings, but was of considerable service for ventilating the works and for taking away a considerable quantity of ore that could not possibly pay the old miners - working at such great disadvantage as they must have done. The returns during the past 25 years have been varies from 50 tons downwards; it is at present at work by a good spirited company, and a small dividend has recently been paid. The deepest workings have not been sunk but very little deeper than theyw ere 200 years ago. This will now have to be attended to, and I have no doubt success will attend their efforts.

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