The Mines of Llywernog


T Boyns. National Library of Wales journal. 1976, Winter. Volume XIX/4

Extracted onto the pages of GENUKI with the kind permission of the National Library of Wales

This is a complete extract of this article apart from one Table and a diagram (Gareth Hicks May 2003)

ABOUT a mile out of Ponterwyd, on the main trunk road to Aberystwyth, a Mining Museum was started at the Llywernog mine in January of 1974. 1
The buildings, which had not been used very much, if at all, since the first decade of this century, were in a bad state of repair. The other mines in this valley, cut by the river Llywernog, were in an even worse state. During the last century there had been four mines, Powell's, Llywernog, Clara and the Ponterwyd (or California of Wales), working within a mile radius in the valley, but Llywernog is the only one with any visible building remains left. Another mine of some considerable importance in this Ponterwyd district hiding further in the hills away from the road on the northern side of the valley was the Bog or Craignant Bach mine. During the 1840's and 50's it was quite active in the hands of John Taylor and Sons, but after the collapse of several companies, the mine ultimately closed in the early 1880's.   2

Here we will try to trace the history of the Llywernog mines, viz Powell's and Llywernog itself. Where information has been available on Clara and Ponterwyd, this has been fitted in to show the overall development of mining in this valley. The mines are by no means the oldest nor the most profitable; they have no great claim to fame as being large producers of ore, like the Van mine in Montgomeryshire, or Frongoch and Cwmystwyth in Cardigan, nor for any other salient feature. They were just ordinary mines. They were worked during the mining boom of the late 1850's, 1860's, early 1870's, and generally when the price of lead ore was high. In this way they would seem to show a fairly typical picture of what happened in many of the valleys of Ceredigion. Details will differ from area to area, of course, so will the people involved (though less so since mine agents' fingers seemed to be in several pies at the same time) but the overall picture remains the same --- hard work, little return, and a multitude of different companies each running the mines for short periods.

The history of these mines goes back to the late eighteenth century, after the landowners had won their rights to the minerals on their land which previously had lain with the Crown. At that time the turnpike road had not yet been made. The dividing line for the land was the river. To the north, the land belonged to the Gogerddan estate. To the south ---the picture was more complicated. Part of the land was owned by the Lloyds of Abertrinant, part by the Parrys of Llidiardau, and another part by the Rowlands of Cefn-Coed, Goginan. Furthermore, the Powells of Nanteos claimed rights over the land during this early period as Lords of the Manor.

The largest of the mines on this southern portion was the Powell. The central portion of this mine, which in the middle of the 19th century was to be split by the turnpike road (see map), was owned by the Parrys. It was here that the dressing floors and the main mine buildings stood. The rest of the mine which covered a semi-circle, half a mile in radius, was owned by the Powells --- although part had ...................

.................... been previously owned by the Lloyds. To the east of, and contiguous to the Powell mine was the Clara mine, most of which was situated on land belonging to the Rowlands of Cefn-Coed. And further east again, and also crossing the trunk road was the Ponterwyd mine, a fairly extensive sett which was gradually broken up during the mining boom of the 1860's.

Having described the area with which I am concerned I will now try to trace out the events of the period since the middle of the eighteenth century. Most of the statistical information relating to the mines is contained in Appendix A, whilst in a second appendix the details of leases and so forth can be found.

O. T. Jones's book on the mines of North Cardiganshire and West Montgomeryshire   3  mentions two mines included under the name Llywernog, the western of these, or as it was to be called in the nineteenth century, Powell's mine, being situated some quarter of a mile to the west of the Llywernog mine. During the middle of the nineteenth century it is certain that these two mines were operated by different persons and companies.

Indeed the mines were situated on two different estates, as indicated above. However, they did have one thing in common - the lode which runs from the N.E. to the S.W.

On the face of the available statistical evidence, however, it would seem that the lodes were richer at the Powell's mine end, even though there is a junction of two lodes at Llywernog which generally leads to an enriching of the ore. This will be looked at in fuller detail later on, but first let us look at the more general situation during the middle of the eighteenth century.

At this time Cardiganshire was divided into ten commotes, of which the three northernmost were Geneu'r Glyn, Perfedd and Creuddyn. 4  The Llywernog mines were in the Cwmmwd y Perfedd (or Perveth commote), which extended from the River Clarach to the River Rheidol, and in 1742 the land belonged to the Crown. However, Thomas Powell of Nanteos was in dispute with Messrs William Corbett and Charles Richards for the mineral rights of the commote. Powell had a grant from the Crown which he was 'determined to enjoy'. 5  He wanted to avoid a contest over the land but if one was to arise he was determined to stand firm. As he put it in a note to William Corbett, 'if it must be a contest we will see who will be most obstinate, you in pursuit of glittering visions and Richards' golden dreams or I in the possession of Durty Terra Firma and dull lead ore'. 6  The result seems to have been that Corbett and Richards got their lease for digging mines in the commote from the Exchequer. The lease was to be for 31 years from 1742 but it appears that neither they, nor Corbett's son Thomas, worked any mines in the Commote during the period up to the middle of the 1750's. 7  This being the case, the lease was duly forfeited.

In 1744, Lewis Morris made his first major impact upon the mining scene in Cardiganshire. In this year he produced his 'lists of all the mines, trials, etc, in Cardiganshire', 8  recording all the mining activity which was taking place and even going so far as to record lodes, etc, which had been discovered, but were ...............

At this point in the article is a diagram headed 'The Mines of Llywernog' which is not copied . It serves to show where each mine was relative to the others and the turnpike road.

..................as yet untouched. The 'book' was extremely detailed and not surprisingly we find our first reference to Llywernog there---the mine being in the possession of John Pugh Pryse (who was aged four at the time), the son of the ailing Thomas Pryse of Gogerddan. 9  The mine is referred to as 'Llawerneg' but unfortunately the book is no longer complete, pages 16 to 31 being missing and the plan and the description of the mine which appeared on pages 21 and 22 are lost forever. However, elsewhere in the book, mention is made of the Llawerneg vein crossing the lands of both Thomas Lloyd, Abertrinant, and David Johnes's Freehold. These two plots were contiguous and were situated approximately at the site of the Clara mine given on the accompanying map. Further, a tenement of Thomas Parry's, Blaen Llawerneg (this is possibly the farm bordering the Powell mine to the north-east), was also found to be situated on a vein of potter's ore. Thus, even at this early stage, it was known that many veins of ore crossed this area.

In 1746 William Corbett was appointed Steward of the Crown Manors of Cardiganshire, and as his deputy he appointed Lewis Morris. Subsequently, Morris replaced Corbett, being appointed the Agent and Superintendent of His Majesty's Mines in Cardigan and Merioneth on 15 July 1752. In 1756 he leased a mine called Llawerneg from D. Jones (presumably the same David Johnes mentioned in his book of 1744) for 21 years at a dish, i.e. royalty, of one-twelfth. This information is contained in Morris's History of the Manor of Mevenith 10  prepared specially for Pryse of Gogerddan, and alongside the entry he writes the comment, 'Potters Ore'. The mine this juncture would most probably have been no more than a series of trenches dug along the line of the vein, althongh several of the larger mines did consist of levels and adits driven into the mountainside. How much activity took place and how much ore, if any, was raised, are unfortunately impossible questions to answer, or even to attempt to answer.

Most of the published sources that exist on the mines in Cardiganshire all agree that the two mines at Llywernog were started in the 1770's. Francis 11  in 1874, talks of both the Powell's and the Llywernog mines being worked extensively for more than a century, as had Spargo 12  four years earlier. The earlier sources of Davies 13 and Meyrick,  14  (from which Spargo and Francis probably obtained their information) again give 1770 as the date of commencement. Meyrick (1808) says there are two mines discovered about 40 years ago at Llywernog, and Davies (1815) says that the mine, later called Powell's, was discovered about 44 years back. However, he states that Llywernog has only been lately opened.

Documentary evidence, on the other hand, from both the Nanteos and Powis Manuscript collections, held at the N.L.W, puts the discovery of Powell's mine as 1780, 15  ten years later than the published sources suggest. The first mention of mines in Llywernog, after L. Morris's lease of 1756 is in a letter 16  from George Parry to Thomas Bonsall respecting the new mine discovered on Ystumtuen Fach, i.e. Powell's mine. It is clear from this letter dated 4 May 1780, that Bonsall is working the land for minerals without the consent of Parry who believes he is the rightful owner of the land. Dr. Powell of Nanteos also claims the right to.....................

...................... this land, being Lord of the Manor but according to Parry, Powell has 'not a foot of land within a mile of the place'. Parry hoped that Bonsall would stop working until the ownership was settled, but as he did not, Parry threatened to file an injunction. At last an agreement was made between Parry and Bonsall 17  and a lease was drawn up in 1781. The agreement was to last 21 years during which time Bonsall would pay him 6/- a ton for every ton of lead ore to be raised on Mynidd Llywernog.

It would seem that little work had previously been done at the mine work, since Bonsall was to start working in the open ground. However, Parry agreed to allow him to drive a level in order to drain the work. If, in driving this level, any ore should be discovered, Bonsall was to pay 20/- per ton not 6/-. Mention is also made that if a deeper level was to be driven along the vein, a more thorough trial could be made of the work.

Where ore is mined underground, it is normal practice to leave pillars of rock to support the roof--- known as Cranch's (according to W. J. Lewis) 18  or Cranckes (Powis MS 9096). Bonsall, however, as he had done in other mines in the district, just worked them as open casts, i.e. leaving no cranckes or supporting pillars. This was evidence that he was out to make a quick profit and then abandon the mine, rather than to work it properly by leaving cranckes, opening up new reserves of ore, and working it on a long-term basis. At this time, the deepest bottom was 28 yards (i.e. 14 fathoms) with another at about 10 or 11 fathoms. The ore in the lower level was being raised at £2.8/- a ton whereas that in the other at £3.5/- indicating that the ore in the lower level was of a better quality and / or easier to mine. At the time this document (Powis MS 9096) was written, 50 hands were employed.

Whether or not Bonsall was evicted from the Ystumtuen Fach or Powell's mine we do not know. However, on 31 May 1794 he took out a lease for 21 years of the minerals under 'Erwdome, Llanwenog, Dolfawr and Tanllan' all in the parishes of 'Llanfihangel y Croyddin and Llanbadarnfawr'. Bonsall, and a Pierce Evans, Esq., of Piercefield, leased the lands from the Lloyds of Abertrinant, but surrendered the lease 31 months later.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Llywernog valley mining was taking place at Llywernog itself. The land on this side was all part of the Gogerddan estate, and the first mention of work actually going on there is in a letter from John Pierce, the Gogerddan agent, to Pryse Loveden (later Pryse Pryse), dated 14 October 1791. 19  The letter is a summary of the situation at several of the mines under his control and of Llywernog he says, 'There is 60 miners employed at Llewerneg out of which there are 16 sinking down the engine shaft, 12 men keeping out the water, and the remainder raising ore, cutting ground and making preparations for the Engine, etc'. This 'Engine' of course would be a totally wooden water wheel. In the event it would seem that at least one other wheel was erected since in a letter dated 25 July 1795, Pierce mentions that work has stopped owing to a scarcity of water to supply the 'wheels'.

In fact, water has played a somewhat ambiguous role at the mines in Llywernog. On the one hand there have often been stoppages due to the lack of water, and on the other, there have been stoppages because too much water was coming into the levels. In the 1780's remarks were made on how quick the water was to seep through the rock after rain. But, if there is no water for pumping, then water will build up naturally in the levels, even if it isn't raining on the surface. The shortage of water was to cause great problems later on during the 1860's for all the mines in the valley.

In 1808 Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick first published his book ' The History and Antiquities of the County of Cardigan'. In the introduction, in a section on mineralogy he gives a potted history of the mines in the county and under 'Llewernog' he notes, 'There are two works of this name in the same vale; one worked by Sir Thomas Bonsal, and the other by Mr. William Poole, tenant of Gogerddan'. If this is correct then it would seem to indicate that little change in ownership had taken place at either mine for many years, since William Poole had been linked with Llywernog from the 1790's, and of course Bonsall had been so with Powell's since 1780.

However, it is quite possible that the mines were not working for the whole of this period. If they were not working, and there is no mention in any documents of Bonsall still working at Llywernog after the turn of the century, although he was working other mines in Cardiganshire, then it is quite possible that Meyrick's references would be to the mines' last operators.

Meyrick also tells us that an engine has been erected on each mine, and the water which had prevented their operation for a long time was cleared off. He mentions that the mines contain lead ore, quartz, and black jack, though 'it is of a poor quality, and in a very small proportion', about one part of lead ore to four parts of quartz. He records that the price of lead ore in 1806 was £18 per ton, a price which was to be very rarely, if ever, seen again during the 19th century. In fact, although there were many fluctuations of prices during the period the overall trend was one of decline, culminating with the collapse of the price to £6 a ton in the mid 1880's.

In 1809, it seems another water wheel was erected at Llywernog (or Powell's). In a diary for 1813 by Walter Davies 20  it is noted that the Llywernog lead ore mine is about to be let (a promising mine according to an old miner). Also there is mention of a water engine having been erected about four years previously. Thus it would seem that the mine had been lying idle for part of the beginning of the second decade of the nineteenth century. The erection of this water wheel is also mentioned by him in his book, although no mention as to the state of the mine is made.

No information on the mines is then available until the middle of the 1820's, when Michael and William Williams of Scorrier House, Gwennap in Cornwall, arrived in the county. At various times between 1825 and 1840 they leased many ........

..............mines in Cardiganshire, among them being Darren Fach, Darren Fawr, Blaencwmsymlog, Grogwinion, Cefn Cwmbrwyno, and Llywernog. Unfortunately the lease for Llywernog no longer exists but it was probably executed on the 10 August 1825, as were two other leases for four of the seven mines (including Llywernog) included in a draft lease of April 1825. However, in October, two years later, the Williams's were asking Mr. Marice, the Gogerddan agent, to persuade Pryse Pryse to take back the leases of Llywernog and Allt-y-crib,   21  the reason for this request being the fall in the price of lead ore. Having spent £7,000 or so on Pryse's mines, for £1,500 worth of ore they wished to continue with Darren, Cwmsymlog and Bog and jettison the more unprofitable concerns, 'until a change takes place for the better in the lead trade'.

How long it was before this rise in price occurred is uncertain but the next mention of Llywernog occurs in 1840. 22  During the January of that year the mine was being worked by a Mr. Lewis who it seems was prepared to sell it along with another mine on the other side of the road (presumably either Clara or Powell's), for £500. The buyer was one Robert Dunkin of Llanelli, and from some letters he wrote to Matthew Francis, a mining agent living in Goginan, and the older brother of the Absalom Francis who wrote the ' History of the Cardiganshire Mines', which are in the Smythe Collection at the National Library, we can learn about the transaction. For his £500, Dunkin was to get the two mines, including the waterwheels, of which there were two, the pumps and all tools and implements, plus 12 tons of ore already dressed at the surface.

The plan was to buy two other mines, a couple of miles south-west of Llywernog called Nantglas and Rhiwrugos and run them all via a company to be called the Rheidol United Mines Company. On 7 February 1840, Dunkin wrote to Francis and said that the owner of these mines wanted £1,200 for them, but that if he wonld reduce his demand to £1,000 they would come to an agreement. An interesting comment in the same letter is 'I am sorry you have recommended a Welshman as Manager in Llwernog ...'. The original company was to have a captital of £500 divided into one hundred shares of £5, and was for Llywernog only. The major shareholders were to be Dunkin and a J. H. Shears with twenty shares each, Matthew Francis and the seller, Mr. Lewis, each with ten. This information was contained in a letter of 31 March 1840, but in October of the same year talk was about the Rheidol Company and not just Llywernog.

In the Rheidol United Mines Company's prospectus it gives the captial to be £2,500, in 100 shares of £25 each, and the Management Committee to be Robert Dunkin, William Lewis and Matthew Francis. As David Bick has pointed out, this venture provided jobs for some of the unemployed members of the Francis family since George Francis, Junior, was appointed Resident Manager of the mines, under the control and direction of Matthew's uncle, Captain Absalom Francis of Halkin, in Flintshire, but it is doubtful whether it was very successful. By 1843 the mines were all in the hands of J. H. Shears, one of the shareholders mentioned...............

..................above for Llywernog in the early days of 1840. Whether he was actually a shareholder in Rheidol United is unclear, but the remainder of the former shareholders seemed prepared to go along with him when he carried on the mines under the title of the 'Llywernog Mines Company'. 23

Despite this fact, Mr. Shears seems to have had problems taking over the company. Dunkin kept withholding documents relating to the former purchase of the mines from him, and as well Shears was not too happy that some of the shareholders would pay up if a call on the shares was made. Further, labourers and merchants who were owed some £220 from the Rheidol United's exploits were threatening to commence legal proceedings if they were not paid. To cap all his problems, the owner of part of the land, Mr. G. M. Parry, was pressing for work to be started at Llywernog or he would let it to somebody else. (The Parrys owned the portion that was to become the central part of the Powell Mine in the 1860's, and so it would seem reasonable to assume that the mine on the other side of the road referred to in the letter of 27 January 1840 from Dunkin to Francis was Powell's and not Clara.)

Nevertheless, Shears managed to get the mines going smoothly and in the following year, 1844, he applied to Colonel Powell of Nanteos for leases of lands adjoining Llywernog on the one hand, and those in Erwtome adjoining Nantglas and Rhiwrugos on the other. 24  The reason given for this expansion was that he wished to increase his capital outlay at the mine, but to make this a worthwhile proposition he wanted more lands in which to be able to carry out his prospecting. The extra lands alluded to at Llywernog were those to the west of the Llywernog mine, and if this latter term includes the Parry part of the later Powell's Mine, then these lands could be what later became the remainder of the Powell Mine, i.e. the large semi-circle shown on the map. What the immediate result of this application was, however, remains a mystery.

If the above assumption regarding the lands involved is correct, then it seems unlikely that Shears got his land. This is because in 1845, Messrs. Gower and Co. leased most of the mines on the Nanteos estate, including 'Estymtien Fach otherwise Llewerneg', where a minimum of four men were to be employed in making trials for ore. At this period it was customary to include such statements relating to the number to be employed at a mine, in order to keep miners in the area employed. This venture at Powell's did not last long either, since on 5 May 1848, John Taylor, senior, and John Taylor, junior, took a lease of Powell's for 21 years at a royalty of one-tenth.

At Llywernog itself, the mine was being worked during the latter half of 1851 by a James Holdsworth on a take-note from Captain Pryse. He subsequently tried for a lease of the mine 25  and not without some trouble he secured this on 31 March 1852. Firstly he was asked to prepare a draft lease, which the Gogerddan Agent, John Williams, rejected virtually in its entirety. Further he suggeseted that the sett for which Holdsworth had the take-note was now to be divided into two parts, Llywernog and Ponterwyd, and that he was only to have Llywernog. Shaken .....................

......................by this turn of events, Holdsworth wrote to Captain Pryse explaining that most of his trials had been carried out on land that was now to be part of the Ponterwyd sett, and seemingly the Bog sett, and that it was not usual to issue a take-note without then issuing a lease if the holders of the take-note so wished. Eventually he got his way and the lease for the whole Llywernog sett was signed. Despite his efforts in keeping the sett together he does not seem to have stayed there long, and as we shall see below the sett was broken up eventually, only for the newly formed Ponterwyd sett to be joined to the Clara and Bog mines during the early 1870s.

The Llywernog, Clara and Ponterwyd Mines

In 1858, the first attempt to run any of the mines in the area together was made. Previously, of course, Shears had tried to run Llywernog with Rhiwrugos and Nantglas, but the attempt made by the Llywernog United Mining Company (Ltd) covered the Bog, Ponterwyd and Llywernog mines. The venture, however, seems to have been an optimistic one, with very little being accomplished. The glowing prospectus accompanying the Company's formation alluded to the property as containing 'with one or two exceptions' more lodes than any other mine in the county. The Llywernog and Bog mines were mentioned as returning thousands of pounds worth of ore and it was said that at all the mines good deposits of ore had been opened upon. However, according to the returns in Hunt's Mineral Statistics (see Appendix A), virtually no ore at all was returned. Three tons of lead ore were recorded for Ponterwyd in 1857, and although this was before Llywernog United was floated, the persons working the mines were the same. They had, according to the '58 prospectus, spent £7,500 on 'sinking shafts, driving levels, erecting machinery, etc'; if so it would seem very unlikely that they got very much of this back.

Of the five shafts mentioned in the prospectus only two appear with any regularity in reports in the Mining Journal --- the Llywernog engine shaft, and the boundary shaft at Ponterwyd. This latter shaft had previously belonged to the Clara mine, but in a settlement of July 1855 it was 'thrown '  26  into the Ponterwyd sett. The shaft at Llywernog was down to the 36-fathom level at this time and in early 1859 it was drained to below the 25-fathom level. However, despite the £7,500 spent, the small lift of pumps and the relatively small 20 foot water-wheel were not enough to drain the mine down to the 36-fathom level and very little was done. In fact, it is interesting to note that at the very end of 1859, J. G. Williams, the Gogerddan agent, was recommending his cousin John to purchase Llywernog   27  --- it is therefore quite possible that the mine was idle for most of 1860 and early 1861.

But Llywernog Utd did get something out of their venture --- they were paid £2,000 for the mine by Balcombe & Co. When this company took over at Llywernog in the October of 1861, having been running the Clara mine for several months prior, they bought a 40-foot water-wheel from the Bodcoll mine, south of Llywernog near Devil's Bridge, in order fully to drain the mine. This ......................

......................... wheel, as well as pumping the mine dry, was able to drive a full-size drawing machine and a crushing machine. They set to work to instal the 40-foot waterwheel --- which was to remain until the middle of the 1870's --- but despite all their efforts, which were constantly thwarted by either rain or frost, the wheel was not in action until May of 1862. Their problems did not end here. The pitwork of the mine-shaft enabled only a small lift of pumps to be used and the draining of the mine took a further three to four months. In December preparations were being made to sink the shaft from the 36-fathom level to the 50-fathom one. 28

In early 1863 14 men were working in the mine --- this seems to have been an average number throughout the period --- and they were also erecting a new crusher house. This had its first use at the end of the year when 5 tons of lead ore and 15 tons of zinc blende were ready to be carried to Aberystwyth. (From the Nevill records we know that the Clara sold 5 tons of lead ore on 2 January 1864 to the Panther (smelting) Company for £13/2/6 per ton). At the Clara mine itself a trial was taking place early in 1864 with a boring machine supplied by the Cambrian foundry in Aberystwyth. It was used in the Dolven deep adit but despite some alterations to the working parts, breakages were frequent occurrences aud the men were reported as preferring to use manual labour.

During the second half of the 1860's work seems to have continued at the mines in fairly unspectacular fashion. Ore was returned in the official statistics for both Clara, in 1867, and Llywernog in 1865 and 1866 (see Appendix A). At the latter the burning question was more capital to develop the mine. It was decided at an extraordinary general meeting in February 1868 that a new company, to be called the Llywernog Mining Company (Ltd) should be formed to run the mine and that every member of Balcombe & Co. was to be entitled to one share of  £15, credited £12 paid, in exchange for four shares of the present company. 29  J. B. Balcombe, himself, became Managing Director of the new Llywernog Company but retained his links with the Clara mine for a couple of years afterwards. By the summer of '69 the shaft at Llywernog had been driven to the 62-fathom level, but it was in such a bad state that lengthy repairs had to be undertaken. The crusher was also repaired and in the middle of June these repairs were finished. However, the crusher had only been working a week before it was stopped again owing to insufficient water to turn the 40-foot water-wheel fast enough. Water started building up in the lower levels at Llywernog and had reached the 50-fathom level by the middle of July. It was another month before there was enough water to turn the wheel, and the mine was flooded up to the 40-fathom level. A further couple of weeks were needed before this water was pumped out of the mine and work could continue in the bottom levels.

In contrast Powell's continued to work throughout the entire summer, having been 'not the least retarded in consequence of the drought'. 30  This was possible because a steam engine had been installed at the mine, which would be used to operate the pumps, etc. when there was not sufficient water to turn the wheel. The running costs of the steam engine were high but at least the mine was able................

................... to carry on working. The relationship between the two mines had not always been of the best with regular boundary disputes, and one can imagine the feeling of the men at Llywernog, idly twiddling their thumbs watching the steam-engine across the valley at Powell's sending puffs of smoke into the sun-drenched skies. In fact, the situation became unbearable for the men of Llywernog and not to be outdone, on 27 November they started installing their own 16 h.p. Barrows and and Stewart steam-engine. 31  The engine was tried out, successfully, on Christmas Day and they could look forward to the following summer without any qualms.

The use of the steam engines at both Llywernog and the Powell mine was regulated by the cost of coal. By the time it had been shipped to Aberystwyth from South Wales and then carried the 11 miles by road, the price was high. The engines were only used when it was impossible to run the water-wheels. Often, water would be stored in the ponds so that the wheels could be used for short periods for crushing the ore, while the engines kept the mine pumped dry. This technique was employed at Llywernog in March 1871; the engine's function, however, being achieved by only running it for 24 hours a week ! Water was again short at Llywernog in May and the engine was again being used.

On 21 October 1871 Llywernog reported in the Mining Journal that its shaft had been sunk to the 72-fathom level --- this increase in depth of 10 fathoms taking about 16 weeks in all.

The men sinking the shaft were paid £195 for the work and were to have got an extra £5 if it had been completed by the end of September. The total number of miners being employed at Llywernog at this time was 20 (a decrease of 4 over May of the same year).

Having increased the depth of the shaft attempts were made at the end of 187I to wind up the Llywernog Mining Company voluntarily, as its capital was exhausted and in turn to form a new company. In November, at an Extraordinary General Meeting, however, the shareholders were not disposed to carry on the mine, and as a consequence very little took place in the mine during December and early in 1872, only 10 men were employed in January, and this was reduced to 6 in March. Although there were only 6 men, they were being paid £11 per fathom to drive a cross-out at the 72-fathom level. Considering the exhaustive state of the company's resources and even though the wages would include all the miners' requirements and the dressing of any ore into a merchantable state, the amount seems excessive. The yield at Llywernog was rarely much more than 1 ton of lead ore per fathom and with the low prevailing price of lead ore, there would seem to have been very little prospect of profits for the shareholders. Perhaps they expected to find large reserves of ore, but this does not seem to have been the case. Eventually the company was wound up and a new Llywernog Company was floated, again with J. B. Balcombe as Managing Director.

Under its chief agent John Evans, Llywernog continued quietly throughout 1872 although it was stated that the mine badly needed the power which a larger water-wheel could provide. Evans seems to have had no more success than his .............

...................... counterpart across the road at the Powell mine, despite the fact that the board of the new company had given Balcombe the power to introduce a 50-foot wheel at any time he thought it necessary. He also planned to sink the main engine shaft at Llywernog down to the 82-fathom level, but, as far as the records that have survived show, this never took place. We do know, however, that a shaft was sunk on a new north lode, some 90 fathoms to the north of the engine shaft. This was the result of opening up an old costeau pit. 32  which was assumed to have been the work of the owners some 40 or 50 years earlier. Work on this shaft continued at a rate of about 2-3 fathoms a month, but in June, when it was down 4 fathoms and 4 feet, work stopped owing to a flood of surface water.

Everything seemed to be going on well at Lywernog, with 24 men employed in June 1872 and even 18 in December but on 19 March 1873 John Evans wrote the last report from Llywernog to appear in the Mining Journal. 33  Water had apparently been rising up the mine, and a heavy storm of wind and snow had torn down the wooden launders feeding water to the wheel and thrown them many yards. He noted that good orestuff was to be found at the bottom of the mine and that the stopes in the 72-fathom level were yielding 25 cwt of lead ore per fathom, and those in the 50-fathom level 20 cwt. Despite these apparently glowing prospects of orestuff, the reports stopped. In fact at Llywernog little seems to have been done during the remainder of the 1870's. It remained idle during 1873 and for part of 1874 and was then run by Balcombe and another company. He, with James Rhodes, had leased Llywernog from the Gogerddan estate in March 1870, but ore returns from Llywernog terminated in the Official Statistics in 1872 and in the Nevill Records in 1873 (just 12 tons recorded for the year). It seems therefore that little resulted from Balcombe's last venture, other than the erection of a 50-foot water-wheel during 1875. 34 This was presumably the same one that towered over the A44 up until January 1953 when it was finally dismantled for scrap.

One major factor enabling such a large wheel to be erected was the clubbing together of the mines in the valley to construct a leat system some 6 or 7 miles from the Llywernog Pond back to a stream called the Glandwr. The main reason for the system's construction was the prohibitive cost of the steam engines being used at Llywernog and Powell. The value of the leat system to the mines in the valley was summed up by Absalom Francis in his book thus: 'Too much importance cannot be attached to this, and it will be the means of putting to work many mines that would otherwise have lain unworked, or if worked, could not be wrought with profitable results'. 35  Looking east from Llywernog, part of this leat system can still be seen along the hillside.

The most interesting, and novel, occurence during the latter half of the 1870's was the attempt by the two mines, Powell's and Llywernog, to link up their workings underground. According to Absalom Francis 36  this work would take some 18 months to 2 years to complete but, when completed, would greatly facilitate the working of both properties. The union, which was probably to be................

.......................made by the 20-fathom level at Llywernog, the nearest of all the levels to the boundary with Powell's was never accomplished as far as can be ascertained. In 1879 Llywernog was virtually idle.

In connection with Llywernog, we mentioned that during the 1860's both Clara and Ponterwyd were being run by Balcombe and Company. In 1868, however, this company decided to concentrate its resources at the Clara mine, even though according to Spargo, 37  the mine had been closed for a period during 1863 and 1864 owing to a dispute over the ownership of the land which had resulted in litigation. The company sold the Ponterwyd mine to two London men, Joseph Lamert and Edward Ashford, during 1868 and as we have already seen let Llywernog be taken over.

Despite this rationalisation, Clara was itself taken over in April 1870 by the Clara Consols Company with William Battye to the fore . 38  This company, which was capitalised with 5,000 shares of £5 each, carried on at Clara until 1881 according to Hunt's Mineral Statistics. During this period the mine worked slowly but steadily. The main shaft, Sandford's, was sunk from the 32-fathom level in 1871 to the 44-fathom level by March 1872 and it was during these two years that Clara returned its best output figures, viz, 80 tons during the two years 1871/2 according to the official returns. Due to lack of capital the mine subsequently only produced single figure yearly ore returns throughout the rest of the 1870's. Clara's heyday, such as it had been, was over, and in 1881 Clara Consols gave up. Operations at Clara were finally suspended after a brief attempt at re-opening by one S. Stringer of Manchester who also attempted to work the Old Bog mine simultaneously, in 1883.

At the Ponterwyd mine on the other hand, there was great activity for a short period. Soon after Lamert and Ashford had bought the mine from Balcombe and Co. in 1868 they wished to split it up. The Ponterwyd sett was made up of three portions : 39 the western portion, where Lamert and Ashford were concentrating their efforts with a shaft down to the 18-fathom level in 1862, and a water-wheel being erected; the eastern portion, which bordered the Clara mine; and the central portion, which in the opinion of Sampson Trevethan, junior, was the best of the three. Despite this opinion Lamert and Ashford wished to get rid of the eastern and central portions. Such an attitude to the eastern one was surprising since its shaft, 10 fathoms deep and close to the Clara mine sett was the one which had been thrown into the Ponterwyd mine sett in July 1855 as a result of a boundary settlement. This eastern portion was in fact bought by Clara Consols for £800 sometime during 1870 or 1871. The remainder of the Ponterwyd sett became part of the Old Bog mine sett by 1875 although in 1871 and 1872 it was recorded in Hunt's Mineral Statistics as being run by the Llywernog Mining Co. Ltd. The oddest part, however, of the entry for 1872 is the recording of 244 tons of lead ore for Ponterwyd (see Apendix A).

The Powell Mine

After the lease of the mine in 1848, no evidence remains until the 1860's. In 1862 Captain Samson Trevethan, senior, and Mr. Rowlands, the owner of part of the land on which the Clara mine was situated, took over the Powell mine on a take-note from the Powells of Nanteos. They subsequently formed a company to run. the mine and in 1864 the first ore from the venture was recorded --- 20 tons of lead ore. The same was recorded in 1865 and twice the amount, 40 tons, in 1866. In 1867, however, there was a gigantic leap to 170 tons with new reserves of ore being discovered. In 1868 because more capital was required to exploit fully the mine's potential, the Powell United Silver Lead Mining Co. Ltd was floated and in September it leased the mine at a royalty of  1/16th for the next 21 years. In 1868 and 1869 the mine was producing over 300 tons of lead ore a year --- a feat which had probably never been witnessed in the valley before and except for 1871 it was never quite to see again.

Besides being the most productive mine in the area, the Powell mine was also the most innovatory. One such innovation was its use of steam power in 1869. Water had, of course, been one of the most important factors in enabling mining to take place in Cardiganshire. Many of the fast-flowing streams feeding the main rivers of the county, the Rheidol, the Ystwyth, and the Teifi, had provided the means for mines to be sunk lower and lower into the massive rock stratas, not only by providing the power for machinery to pump the lower levels dry and to crush the ore, but also to help in separating out the lead and zinc ores from the waste rock. However, in the Llywernog valley, the streams often dried up during the summer, causing work to be stopped for days and even weeks on end. Thus, to make sure that they could continue work at the mine during the summer, Powell United bought a steam engine in 1869 which could take over the pumping and crushing roles of the water-wheels, if the streams dried up. As we saw when talking about Llywernog, the cost of running the steam engine was large and greedily ate into the firm's profits and capital.

By 1871 the company's capital had been used up and on 6 May of that year it was recorded in the Mining Journal that the mine was to be worked by a limited company with a capital of £48,000 in £5 shares --- the capital being required not for exploration, large masses of ore having already been laid open, but to pay off preferential charges incurred in bringing the property to its present condition and partly to erect efficient machiney for its more vigorous and economical development. The new company was to be called the Powell Consolidated Lead Mining Co. Ltd, and a new lease was drawn up for the mine to last 21 years from 29 September 1872. Although the previous company had been wound up eighteen months before --- the decision being taken at shareholders meetings on 24 March and 8 April 1871 --- the mine was still producing ore. In fact, the mine never really changed hands --- the company's name had changed, and thus a new lease was needed, but the lessees were the same as those named in the earlier lease of 1868, viz Henry Hulse Berens (of Kent), Charles Frederic Devas, Frederick Halsey ........................

..................... Janson, and William Steven (all of the City of London) and lastly, the proprietors Fund Trustees of the Guardian, Fire and Life Assurance Company. (These were presumably the major shareholders --- directors of the company.)

The fact that the formation of the new company took so long must have much grieved the mine's agent. In May 1871 he recorded that ore had been intersected at the 72-fathom level and the prospects for expansion seemed good. He wrote in the Mining Journal of 8 July 1871 'we have at present but 24 miners employed and by their labour we return 30 tons a month. I can with confidence state that our returns may be 80 tons a month within a short time if the desired change (of improving the machinery, etc.) be effected at a monthly expenditure of £400'. These 'necessary' changes never in fact took place, even after the new company bad been floated but if the agent's estimate of the cost was correct it is difficult to see why not. With the price of lead ore at the time in the region of £11 per ton, an extra 50 tons a month would have grossed £550, leaving a net profit of somewhere around £100 to £150 a month!

Despite the company's failure to seize this opportunity, Powell Consolidated ran the mine up until 1878, with Nicholas Bray taking over as Chief Agent / Manager from John Trevethan and throughout this period the mine's output dominated that of the others around it. Between 1873 and 1878 according to the official returns, the mine produced 941 tons of lead ore and 2,211 ozs of silver.

Thus, by the end of the 1870's, both Powell and Llywernog were idle, Clara was about to be closed down for good, and Ponterwyd no longer existed. However, all was not gloom. In the Mining Journal of 7 February 1880, it was recorded that both the Powell and Llywernog mines were to be started again with fresh capital. Powell's was taken over by the Powell Mines Company, with Nicholas Bray in command, and although it does not seem to be the case that they also ran Llywernog at this time, in June 1882 it had fallen under their control. E. Butler was asked to prepare a report on Llywernog at this later date and from this document we can learn a great deal. 40

The lease to J. B. Balcombe and James Rhodes of 1870 was still operative, although nothing seems to have been done underground for several years --- a violation of the terms of the lease. Records and plans of the workings had not been kept and it was not possible to go underground since the mine was flooded up to the 40-fathom level. However, from the best information he could get, Butler thought that the shaft had not been sunk to below the 72-fathom level, and although the level from Powell's which had been extended with a view to linking up with Llywernog had reached the boundary of Sir Pryse's land, no such union had taken place.

As a recompense for violation of the terms of the lease, Butler recommended that the lease-holders should be fined £50, or the lease to be cancelled. Although the Deed of Revocation was served on 1 May 1886   41  by Messrs. H. Hughes aud Son (Sir Pryse's solicitors), mining still continued at Llywernog. Evan Hanson, who had been secretary to the Powell Consolidated company from 1873-79, was ....................

................... still connected with Powell's. He and Bray continued their occupation of Llywernog mentioned by Butler in June of 1882. They spent 'over £3,000'   42  erecting new machinery and in developing levels, but without success --- a familiar story at the mine. The price of lead ore at this time was very low, due to cheap foreign imports and this was given as the reason why no more had been done at the mine. Although they had previously refused to pay a Dead Rent, after the Deed of Revocation had been served, Bray offered Sir Pryse £16 a year for the remainder of the lease's life, i.e. until March 1891, which was accepted . 43

The Powell Mines Company continued to work both the Powell mine and Llywernog until the end of the lease's life and then work stopped --- at Powell's, for good. Between 1880 and 1891 Powell's returned 788 tons of lead ore (producing 605 tons of lead), some of which during the major part of the period would presumably have emanated from Llywernog. It is interesting to note that the situation at these two mines had turned half circle during a period of just over a century. Back in the 1780's they had been known as the Llywernog mines, when the stopped working in 1891, they were the Powell mines.

This was not, however, quite the end for Llywernog. At the beginning of the twentieth century a Glasgow-based firm, Scottish Cardigan Mines Ltd, dabbled in several mines in the county. During 1907 and 1908 they had a period at Llywernog but not very much was done --- like many others before them they had trouble with the water supply. Since 1910 the mine has been idle, save maybe for a few odd miners who may have tried their hand from time to time and taken a take-note in order to try to 'strike it rich'. One of these was a Thomas Jenkins in 1914 but he met with no more success than his predecessors.

Thus the history of these mines is one of a series of stops and starts. During the period of 170 years spanning the time from the first mention of mining in the Llywernog valley to the final closing of the Llywernog mine itself, just prior to the First World War, periods of activity were closely followed by periods --- some quite long---- of idleness. Companies came and went regularly with, on many occasions, very little to show for their efforts, either in the way of profits or in the physical layouts of the mines. Was this just a question of these companies' business ineptitude, or because the mines were marginal ones? Although the first reason may help to explain why some attempts at operating the mines failed, the underlying cause was the marginal profitability of them. If the price of ore fell, as it did generally throughout the nineteenth century, then the mines could no longer be worked profitably and so fell idle.

The price at which a commodity can be sold is always the main determinant of how much of that commodity is produced and sold, but it is not the only one. A major problem affecting the mine owners was that although many veins crossed the valley, lead and zinc ore did not occur in such abundance as it did in other parts of the county. Further, the lack of an adequate source of water to supply the needed power for the mines caused great problems especially with regard to the.......

............... continuity of production. The continuity was also affected, though to a lesser extent, by the constant changes in ownership that occurred. As the mines were sunk deeper and deeper, more capital was required to supply better equipment to enable the mines to be worked efficiently, and new companies were formed to fulfil this task. However, sufficient capital was never forthcoming to develop the mines on a large scale --- if it had, then the situation may well have been very different.

The situation generally was one of a limited amount of capital gradually being used up over a period of, maybe, five or more years. With very little, if any profits being returned, shareholders would become very pessimistic about their investment and the company would be eventually wound up. The mine would then often remain idle for a year or more, until prospects of a rise in ore prices increased, or somebody was persuaded to try their luck with the mine. Such was the case at Llywernog in 1858, 1861, 1868 and the early 1870's, and at the Powell mine in 1868 and 1872. This latter attempt at the Powell mine seemed destined to lead to an even more profitable working of the mine than had occurred in the previous three years. However, the decline in the price of lead ore towards the end of the 1870's coupled with the reluctance of the mine directors to take more risks than were absolutely necessary meant that the picture became far less rosy and the optimism of the early 1870's remained unfulfilled.

The risks inherent in metalliferous mining are high and greater than those in coal mining. The veins of ore are much thinner than coal seams, are generally vertical rather than horizontal, and are more likely to peter out or disappear totally due to faults in the rock strata. This makes the probability of finding the vein, and of its continuing for any considerable length, much lower than that for a coal seam, and hence the industry is that much more risky. The mines of Llywernog in fact tended to be more risky than some of the other, better known and historically more productive, mines. 44  The ore reserves of the Lywernog mines never seem to have been estimated by prospective owners as high --- rightly or wrongly as this might have been. When optimism in the industry was high, the small return on these mines seemed attractive and they were re-opened, only to be closed again when the bubble burst. It was during one of these boom periods, 1868-1872, that an attempt was made to counter the water shortage by the use of steam engines at the mines, but the attempt was thwarted by the prohibitive cost of coal. A further attempt was made shortly afterwards in 1872/3 to construct a long water leat system to carry water from the Glandwr stream to the mines, with the provision to continue the leats back to the Rheidol river. Although the first part of this ambitious scheme was completed, the down-turn in ore prices which occurred immediately afterwards, effectively nullified any gain which the leat system may have brought.

Thus, whichever way the mine owners turned, they were confronted with one overriding fact, viz, the price they were receiving for their ore was declining. The reason for this fall was the ability of smelting companies to import .................

.................cheaper ore from abroad. The advent of this factor caused expectations of higher ore prices in the remaining years of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century to fall to very low levels. These expectations were borne out by the march of time with the result that the marginally profitable mines became unprofitable and ceased production, many for good. Although some mines in the district continued to produce into the 1930's, e.g. Cwmystwyth and Loveden, they were few and far between and in any case, much less marginal than the mines of Llywernog.




The major source of published statistics on Lead Mines is Robert Hunt's ' Mineral Statistics', 45.  In ' Mineral Statistics', Hunt lists each mine by county, recording the output of lead ore, the amount of lead obtained from the ore, and also the amount of silver obtained. Although Hunt was the first to realise the need for statistics and to collect them, his efforts, especially in the earlier years, met with mixed success. It should be pointed out that ' Mineral Statistics' refer to nearly all minerals --- there are statistics on coal, iron, copper, tin, zinc, slate, etc --- and therefore lead held no particularly high place in his efforts. The figures given in the volumes would most likely be those supplied to him by agents in the various mineral districts --- there would most likely have been one in Aberystwyth. The accuracy of these returns would, of course, leave something to be desired. It may have been difficult to obtain completely accurate figures due to the fact that a company may not have wished them to be known. Another problem was the names of the Welsh mines and even if these were recorded correctly, the amounts recorded against a particular mine may have been confused with that of another.

One major inaccuracy that occurred would seem to be that for the Ponterwyd mine in 1872. As we saw in the text, this mining sett consisted of three parts of which the eastern was taken over in 1871/2 by the Clara Mine and the central and western parts were worked by the Llywernog Company. There is no evidence of a great ore find in this area at the time and certainly no glowing reports in the Mining Journal. Despite this, and never having had any output recorded against its name since 1859 the 1872 Mineral Statistics gives a return of 244 tons of lead ore for Ponterwyd. This is, in fact, greater than the total of 190 tons recorded for the other three mines, Clara, Llywernog and Powell's together (see table) ! The most probable explanation of this would be that either the collector, or the typesetter has put the figure against the wrong mine. Although this will not usually cause problems when studying the figures for counties, or even for Wales, when one is looking at an individual mine, such aberrations can be misleading --- as with a lot of historical statistics one must be wary how one treads.

Another useful piece of information given in Mineral Statistics since 1857 is the name of the company running the mine, and its chief agent or manager. Again, however, one has to be wary of taking the facts given there at face value, since there was often a lag after a firm had ceased working a mine, sometimes of several years before the name was changcd or at least omitted. This information was continued from 1882 in ' List of Mines' published by the Mines Department of the Home Office as parliamentary papers annually. Thus from Mineral Statistics and its various off-shoots, statistical and other information can be obtained, but generally the figures for an individual mine and therefore counties, etc, tend to err on the small side.

The only other published source of statistics is the Mining Journal. In this we have not only the reports from individual mines, which often include the numbers employed and the amount of ore they have ready to sell, but also records of the weekly sales of ore at various places, e.g. Holywell, Aberystwyth. These, of course, give us a very useful means of cross-checking the official statistics mentioned above. Another very useful cross-checking source is the Nevill papers, a manuscript collection in the National Library of Wales. In this collection there is a series of Lead Ore Offer Books, 46  recording all the parcels of lead ore that the company ever made an offer for during the period 1 January 1858 to March 1875. Although it will not necessarily be the case that every parcel of ore sold in this period will be in these books, the small size of some parcels recorded, viz, 1 ton of lead ore, makes me think that it is likely to be very accurate. This would seem especially so since it was a business company which would want to know and in whose interest it would be to know, of any parcel of ore being sold.

In these books are recorded the mine's name, the date, the amount of ore and its expected percentage content of lead (this will have been estimated from a sample they will have been sent, or on past experience of the particular mine), the price offered by the Nevill Company, the actual purchasers and the price paid, and the name of the seller. Thus we can obtain a lot of information although there is a drawback in that every parcel for every mine --- foreign as well as English Welsh or Irish --- is recorded and obtaining figures for one or a few particular mines is a laborious but rewarding task. Unfortunately, the last book in the National Library ends in 1875. As can be seen in the table below, the figures obtained from the latter source are generally slightly higher for all the mines than those given in the official returns. Thus for each mine I have listed the figures obtained from both the official statisties and the Nevill Papers alongside each other, the Nevill figures being the more accurate.

The Table referred to above and below has not been copied. It is styled 'The Lead Ore Output of the Llywnernog Mines' and has ouput tonnage figures for each of the Clara, Llywernog, Pontyrwyd and Powell mines (where relevant) for the period 1845 - 1891- the sources being Mineral Statistics and the Nevill Papers.

There are a couple of points that ought to be noted about the Nevill Papers figures before a straightforward comparison between the two sets of statistics is made. Firstly, although little is returned for Llywernog during the 1860's it does not necessarily mean that the mine's output was zero. As we saw in the text, Llywernog was worked by the Clara Company during this period, so it is quite likely that the figures attributed to Clara from 1862-67 include the output of Llywernog. Secondly, where figures for a year differ, this may be because of a time lag, i.e. if a parcel of ore was sent to, say, Aberystwyth at the end of December it may well be recorded in the Nevill Papers for that year, whereas it might not have been sold until January and therefore appears in the Mineral Statistics for the following year, or vice versa.

With these points in mind let us analyse the figures given in the table. The first thing that is obvious is that for the period covered by the Nevill Papers, ore is returned for more years than in Mineral Statistics, for both Clara and Llywernog. The amounts returned for Clara are much higher, especially in 1859 and 1860, before they took over Llywernog. Thus David Bick's statement, 'Clara's best years, such as they were, lay ahead with 80 tons returned in 1871/2; this being almost a half of the mine's total output', 47 would seem to be a bit wide of the mark. Even if we attribute all of the Clara output during 1862/67 to Llywernog, its total output is still 337 tons between 1859 and 1861, and 1870 and 1875. For Llywernog itself, it can be seen that it had its main production period during 1871 and 1872, the fall off in 1873 coinciding with its closing down during the year (the last report of Llywernog in the Mining Journal was 19 March 1873). The two sets of figures for Powell's Mine show almost identical trends except for 1866 and 1870. The figure for 1866 does not look too out of place, whereas the 1870 one seems to fit the fact that it was supposed to be producing 30 tons a month during this period.

The Mineral Statistics' production figures for Powell's show in a simplified form the story of the mine. The first ore being marketed during 1864 with the climb to the peak of the early 1870's followed by the winding up of Powell United and the take-over by Powell Consolidated late in 1873. This obviously accounts for the low output figures for 1872 and 1873 but then the mine increases its pace through the mid-1870's only to close in 1879. The first part of the pattern is repeated between 1880 and 1883, but then there is a slow decline until 1891 when the mine shuts for good (these latter figures of course may well include some output from Llywernog).

A final source of statistics is the Royalty returns made by the mining companies to the owners of the land. For Llywernog only a few of these royalty returns remain and these are kept in the Gogerddan Lead Mines Records, a manuscript collection kept in the National Library of Wales. The existing returns relate to the period 1858-1860 and 1866, and almost entirely agree with those in the Nevill Papers --- not surprisingly since nearly all of the ore was sold to Sims, Williams, Nevill & Co. The figures from the Royalty returns refer to quarters and generally not all the returns for every year are available and so the total figures are less than those given in the Nevill Papers. The major difference between the royalty returns and the Nevill Papers occurs in 1866 when 67 tons of lead ore are recorded in the Llywernog royalty returns, but nothing is recorded in the Nevill Papers. It is quite possible that the former is the output for both Llywernog and Clara recorded under Clara in the Nevill Papers for this year.  The only really new information that we can obtain is that of the amount of zinc sold --- 7 tons during the whole of 1858;  9 tons in the quarter ending mid-summer 1859 ;  21 tons in the quarter ending Christmas 1860; and 14 tons during 1866.

The returns of zinc for Llywernog for these odd times would indicate a fairly high level of output, but in the official returns, zinc ore is only recorded in 1859 and 1865 with 8 and 14 tons respectively. This is in sharp contrast to Powell's where during the late 1860's and 1870's a total of 252 tons of zinc was recorded in   Mineral Statistics. In fact, the royalty returns made by the Powell's mine are all still available for the period  1870-91. They were recorded, along with other mines on the Nanteos estate, in an Account Book kept by the Nanteos Agent, whereas the Gogerddan returns were made on separate slips and over time some of these have become lost or been destroyed. Although the Powell's Mine royalty figures still exist, only the monetary amount due to the Nanteos estate and not the amounts of ore involved were recorded. Because royalty was paid on both lead and zinc ore, whose prices were so different (zinc ore was about a quarter or a fifth of the price of lead ore), and which varied over time, any attempt to calculate the amount of ore sold from the amount of royalty paid would be fraught with difficulties and has therefore not been undertaken here.



(Those leases and take-notes marked with an asterisk (#) can be found in the Gogerddan Manuscript Collection; those marked with an $ in the Nanteos Manuscript Collection).


  • 1756    --- Leased to Lewis Morris by D. Jones for a period of 21 years at a royalty of one-twelfth.
  • 1780    --- Leased to Thomas Bonsall by Mr. George Parry of Llidiardau for 21 years at a royalty of 6/- per ton.
  • 1794 (31 May)   --- Leased to Sir Thomas Bonsall for 21 years (royalty unknown) by the Lloyds of Abertrinant.
  • 1796 (21 Dec) --- Lease of 1794 surrendered by Sir Thomas Bonsall.

Nothing is known then until -

  • $1845 (2 Dec)   --- A draft lease was made up for Messrs Gower & Co.
  • $1848 (5 May)   --- Leased to John Taylor senior, and John Taylor, junior, for 21 years at a royalty of one-tenth.
  • $1862 (22 Sep)  --- Granted on a take-note for 2 years at a royalty of one-sixteenth to Sampson Trevethan and John                                 Rowland.
  • $1868 (8 Dec)   --- Leased to the Powell United Silver Lead Mining Co. Ltd, (from 29 September 1868) for 21 years                                at a royalty of one-sixteenth (Dead rent of £25)
  • 1872 (25 Dec)   --- Lease of 1868 surrendered by Mr. Handley the Liquidator of Powell Co.
  • $1872 (25 Dec) --- Leased to Powell Consolidated Lead Mining Co. Ltd, on same terms as lease of 1868.
  • 1879 (2 Dec)    ---  Terms of Royalty of lease of 1872 reduced to one-twentieth.


  •  1789 (1 Oct)    ---      Leased to John Pierce and William Poole, by Margaret Pryse (not executed).
  • #1825 (April)   ---      Leased to the Williams, of Scorrier House in Cornwall at a royalty of 28/- per ton of lead ore                                     and one-tenth on other ores. (Draft copy in Manuscript collection)
  • 1851 (Oct)      ---        Held on take-note by J. Holdsworth. 
  • 1852 (31 Mar)   ---     A lease for Llywernog expired on this date.
  • 1852 (31 Mar)   ---     Leased to J. Holdsworth for 21 years at a royalty of one-fourteenth.
  • 1868    ---                   Deed of Revocation (not executed) of Lease of 1852.
  • 1870 (26 Mar)   ---     Leased to John Barton Balcombe and James Rhodes.
  • 1886 (24 Apr)   ---     Deed of Revocation of Lease of 1870.

PONTERWYD (Lands of Craignantfawr, Craignatfach and Ponterwyd)

  • #1836 (29 Sept) ---       'Craignant' included in lease to Michael and William Williams of Cornwall for a term of 14                                       years.
  • #1842 (31 Dec)  ---       'Craignant' leased to the Taylors.
  • #1853 (22 Nov)  ---       'Craignantfach' and 'Craignantmawr' leased to Thomas Fuller for 21 years.
  • #1868 (31 Dec)  ---       Craignantfach, Craignantfawr and Ponterwyd leased to Joseph La Mert and Edward Ashford                                       for 21 years at a royalty of one-fourteenth.
  • #1881 (5 Nov)   ---        Deed of Revocation of 1868 Lease (copy only in Manuscript Collection)
  • #1897 ( ---                     Craignant Bach (or Bog Pool) taken by Captain William Northey and Mr. Edward Evans for                                       12 months on a take-note.


  • $1873 (29 Sep)  ---       Leased to the Clara Consolidated Silver Lead Mining Co. Ltd, for 21 years (from 25 March                                       1871) at a royalty of one-sixteenth - Dead rent £25.


1 The mine is run by the Mid Wales Mining Museum Ltd, and I wish to thank the directors, Bob Griffin and Pete Harvey, for their help in enabling me to write this article.

2 See D. Bick The Old Metal Mines of Mid-Wales, Pt 2, Cardiganshire - The Rheidol to Goginan, for further information.

3 O. T. Jones, Lead and Zinc. The Mining District of North Cardiganshire and West Montgomeryshire. (Vol. XX in Special Reports on the Mineral Resources of Great Britain, Memoirs of the Geological Survey).

4  D. Jenkins, 'The Pryse Family of Gogerddan', N.L.W. Journal, Vol. 8.

5 Letter from Thomas Powell to William Corbett, Esq., 20 Mar 1742, Nanteos MS Collection N.L.W.

6 Idem.

7 Powis Castle MS 9098, N.L.W.

8 N.L.W. MS 603 E.

9  D. Jenkins, op. cit.

10 Powis Castle MS 21900, N.L.W.

11 Absalom Francis History of the Cardiganshire Mines (1874).

12 Thomas Spargo The Mines of Wales (London 1870).

13 Walter Davies General View of the Agriculture and the Domestic Economy of South Wales vol. II (London 1815).

14 Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick The History and Antiquities of the County of Cardigan (London 1808).

15 Letter from George Parry to Thomas Bonsall dated 4 May 1780 --- Nanteos MS Collection, N.L.W.

16 Idem.

17 Powis MS 9096- N.L.W.

18 W. J. Lewis The Lead Mines of Wales.

19 Letter from John Pierce to Pryse Loveden, dated 25 October 1791 - Gogerddan MS Collection, N.L.W.

20 N.L.W. MS 1756.

21 Letter from Richard Williams to Mr. Marice, dated 16 Oct 1827---Gogerddan MS Collection, N.L.W.

22 Letter from Robert Dunkin to Matthew Francis, dated 27 January 1840, Smythe Collection, N.L.W. I am indebted to Mrs. Mary Tucker for furnishing me with copies of all the relevant letters contained in both the Smythe and Druid Inn Collections.

23 Letter from J. H. Shears to John Hughes, Esq., dated 26 February 1844, Nanteos MS Collection, N.L.W.

24 Letter from J. Shears to John Hughes, dated 26 February 1844---Nanteos MS Collection, N.L.W.

25 Four letters to and from James Holdsworth, Captain J. G. Williams and Captain Pryse, all dated March 1852---Gogerddan MS Collection, N.L.W.

26 Report by S. G. Williams on the Ponterwyd and Clara mines, Mining Journal July 1855.

27 Letter from John Williams to his cousin Captain J. G. Williams dated 7 January 1860--- Gogerddan MS Collection, N.L. W.

28 Report on Llywernog, Mining Journal, 18 December 1862.

29 Report on the Extraordinary General Meeting of the Clara Utd. Mine Co. held in February 1868--- Mining Journal.

30 Report on the Powell Mine --- Mining Journal, 17 July 1869.

31 Report on the Llywernog Mine --- Mining Journal, 27 November 1869.

32 A costeau, or costeen, pit is one that has been sunk down to the bare rock in order to find the direction of the lode.

33 The Mining Journal, 22 March 1873.

34 Letter by S. Trevethan entitled 'Mining in Cardiganshire'---   Mining Journal 27 November 1875.

35 Absalom Francis (1874), op. cit.

36 Letter by Absalom Francis in the Mining Journal 24 March 1877.

37 Thomas Spargo (1870), op. cit.

38 Letter by W. Battye on the 'Clara Consuls Silver-Lead Mining Co.'--- Mining Journal 1 April 1871.

39  See letter from S. Trevethan, jnr, in the Mining Journal.

40 Report by E. Butler to Sir Pryse (?) dated 9 June 1882 - Gogerddan MS Collection N.L.W.

41 Letter from H. Hughes and Son to Colonel J. G. Williams, dated  May 1886 --- Gogerddan MS Collection, N.L.W.

42 Letter from Evan Hanson to Colonel Williams, dated 10 October 1884--- Gogerddan MS Collection, N.L.W.

43 Two letters from Nicholas Bray to Colonel Williams, dated 9 June 1886 and 1 September 1886--- Gogerddan MS Collection, N.L.W.

44 Absalom Francis, in a map of the mining area of mid-Wales produced in January 1878, estimated that the returns of the following mines since their first operation were: Cwmystwyth- £1.5 million; Lisburne mines, Frongoch - £0.6m; Powell - £0.1m; and Llywernog- £0.6m.

45 R. Hunt, FRS, Mineral Statistics 1853-1881 published as Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain. They were then continued until 1896, published by the Home Office.

46 Volumes XXXV-XLV, Nevil Papers, N.L.W.

47 D. Bick, op. cit.