planning application for safety work
Response on behalf of the Welsh Mines Society.
Ceredigion County Council, Planning Application No. A 000367CD
Cwmystwyth Lead Mine, Safety Work.
Submitted by Richard Broun Associates, on behalf of Ceredigion County Council.
Outline of the proposed work.
It is proposed that various mine entrances close to the county road be gated and those which are blocked but in an unstable condition should be capped. In addition the construction of a culvert is proposed to channel water into the Mill tailrace which would be replaced by a pipe under the road. For the smaller adits, Pugh's, Gill's Lower, Gill's Upper, Cross Road, Burrell's No. 4, plus an adit identified as Blue in Simon Hughes' Cwmystwyth Mines, the proposed method of closure is the insertion of a 800 mm pipe, plus up to three small diameter plastic pipes, surrounded by mine waste and faced with a stone and cement wall, all enclosed in a reconstructed headwall. A similar method is proposed for Burrell's Stope. Lefel Fawr, Taylor's Adit, Taylor's Shaft and King's Stope would be gated using galvanised grilles. Pugh's, Kingside, Pengeulan and an unnamed shaft above Burrell's would be capped.
The Welsh Mine Society's response
The Cwmystwyth Mine is probably the most important non-ferrous metal mining site in Wales. It is certainly the premier example of mining heritage in Ceredigion. Within the site there is evidence for all phases of mining activity; from the Bronze Age, through the medieval period, to its revival in the 18th century and the peak of activity with a subsequent decline in the late 19th / early 20th century. As such it has been designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.(1) The site also features prominently in the Upland Ceredigion Landscape of Historic Interest.(2)
There is considerable potential for low key interpretation of the mining heritage at the Cwmystwyth Mine. A potential which has been recognised in studies of metal mining in mid Wales.(3) Opportunities exist to utilise the mining heritage, and not just amongst those groups interested in industrial history. By promoting mining along with other aspects of local heritage, as part of the landscape and amongst groups with kinship ties to the area it should be possible to generate income in the local economy through increased seasonal visitors.(4) If this is to be realised, the integrity of mining heritage within the landscape must be maintained and that is not recognised in the current application
- This application is defective in not taking into account the extension of the area of the Scheduled Ancient Monument in December 1997.(5) All the sites of proposed work are now within the scheduled area. The application provides no justification for the proposed work within the area of a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
- Gating the various mine entrances, using the methods proposed, will have an adverse visual effect on the site. The materials proposed for use in gating the smaller adits are totally inappropriate. A combination of a grilled 800 mm pipe, with small plastic drains, set within a stone and cement face and enclosed by a reinstated headwall will present an ugly scar at the entrance to each adit. Similar objections apply to the methods proposed for Burrell's Stope. If the adits are to be gated, conventional galvanised grilles should be used and set one to three metres inside the current entrances to minimise the visual impact. The gating proposed for Lefel Fawr and Taylor's Adit are acceptable only if they are set not less than three metres inside the portal. Similarly the gating proposed for King's Stope and Taylor's Shaft should be modified to minimise the visual impact.(6)
- The invasive work proposed for the Mill tailrace and the major shafts, Kingside and Pugh's, takes no account of potential archaeological features which might be expected in the area around the proposed works. Given the condition of the latter shaft, the proposals underestimate the amount of work, and disturbance to the surrounding area, required to stabilise the shaft. The current condition of the Mill tailrace under the county road appears sound. To line that race with a pipe would reduce its capacity. In addition the proposed work on culverting the stream into the tailrace takes no account of the current path of the stream which sinks, probably into old workings, to the east of the Mill site.
- The source of the 'stone available on site' and the 'selected mine waste', proposed for use in the works, is not specified. Such material should not be removed from within the scheduled area.
- No consideration is given to the work required to gain access to, and facilitate, the proposed works. Consequently measures to protect known and potential archaeological features are not incorporated into the application. For example, 1) the work proposed in, and on the hillside east of, the Nant yr Onen, particularly on Pengeulan Shaft, would require heavy equipment. Access to those sites could easily compromise the recently discovered evidence for lead smelting during the medieval period.(7) 2) No consideration is given to the treatment of ocherous water discharges from Pugh's Adit whilst the proposed work is in progress.
Overall the closure of the mine entrances, as proposed, will have a detrimental visual impact on the site, degrading its value as an important element in the mining heritage of the area. If the closure of the entrances can be justified, it should be carried out in such a manner as to minimise the visual impact. Conventional metal grilles should be used, set well inside the current mine entrances with little or no disturbance of the existing stonework. If gated in this manner, consideration should be given to negotiating an access agreement with a responsible mine exploration group who could be responsible for ensuring the continued integrity of the gating.
One element of the proposed work, the removal of unrelated debris and abandoned cars from the site, is to be applauded However, this must be part of an ongoing commitment to the conservation of the Cwmystwyth Mine. The work proposed in this application is not framed within plans for the future of the site.
E-mail - P.F.Claughton@exeter.ac.uk
References and notes
- Monument No. Cd145(CER)
- Register of Landscapes of Outstanding Historic Interest in Wales, Cadw (Cardiff, 1998), pp. 12-16. For a comprehensive account of the mine during the historic period, see Hughes, Simon J., The Cwmystwyth Mines, (2nd edn., Talybont, 1993); for the prehistoric period, see Timberlake, S. and Mighall, T., 'Historic and Prehistoric Mining on Copa Hill', Archaeology in Wales, 32 (1992), pp. 38-44.
- See, for example, Cambrian Mountains: Metal Mines Project, by Brian Clouston and Partners, and Parkman Consulting Engineers, (unpublished report to Dyfed County Council, December 1988).
- The latter aspect has the advantage of targeting visitors from areas unaffected by the ongoing fall in the Euro, as most emigration from the area resulting from the decline in mining was either to other parts of the UK or to new mining developments in Australia and North America.
- Cadw, Notice of Revised Entry to the Schedule of Monuments, Ref. CAM 1/1/3591, dated 2 December 1997.
- Of the smaller adits, there is some doubt as to the name of that identified as 'Blue Adit', Ref. 9. Protheroe-Jones (Dyfed Archaeological Trust, Metal Mines Project, field notes, 1992-3) suggests that Blue adit is further to the east.
- Simon Timberlake, pers. comm.; the smelting site was initially identified as 'strewn smelting debris', see Timberlake and Mighall, op cit., fig. 1.
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Peter Claughton / Dept. of History
Last modified 6 December 2000