NAMHO 2002

Aberystwyth, 5-8 July, 2002

The Application of Water Power in Mining

Cymhwyso nerth dwr at fwyngloddio


Water has proved a hindrance to mining since its inception but it has also been used to the benefit of operations from antiquity until the present day. The positive use of water power was initially limited to the hydraulic working of alluvial and soft rock deposits. By the late medieval period it had been applied as the motive power for pumping and other processes ancillary to mining. Its heyday came during the 19th century when waterwheels and turbines provided the power for a range of applications on mine sites across the world.

In Wales the metal mines of the Cambrian mountains provided ideal locations for the application of water power to pumping, winding and, later, for generating electricity. A high average rainfall, and locations remote from the major coalfields, meant water generally found favour over the use of steam power. Examples of the use of water power, and the infrastructure developed to support it, from the period of Roman occupation through to the 20th century can be found within easy reach of the conference venue at Aberystwyth.

Peter Claughton, for the Welsh Mines Society organising group.


The various papers presented on the application of water power in mining have been published as conference proceedings in a special issue of Mining History, the Bulletin of the Peak District Mines Historical Society, Volume 15, Nos. 4/5 (2004). Each delegate to the conference received a copy.

For further information contact the Conference Co-ordinator -

Peter Claughton, Blaenpant Morfil, Rosebush, Clynderwen, Pembrokeshire, Wales SA66 7RE, UK - e-mail


Peter Claughton / SHiPSS
Last modified 28 July 2005