Minera Lead Mines

Pyllau Plwm Lead Mines - Meadow Shaft


Useful Information

Location: At Minera. A483, turn off onto A525 signposted Ruthin, at Coedpoeth, opposite the Five Crosses Pub take B5426 (Minera Hall Road) signposted Minera.
 Location by UK Streetmap
Open: 20-MAR-2008 to 07-APR-2008 Mon, Thu-Sun 12-17.
01-MAY-2008 to 05-MAY-2008 Mon, Thu-Sun 12-17.
22-MAY-2008 to 02-JUN-2008 Mon, Thu-Sun 12-17.
07-JUN-2008 to 13-JUL-2008 Sat, Sun 12-17.
Fee:  
Classification:  Lead Mine
Light: electric.
Dimension:  
Guided tours:  
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Minera Lead Mines, Bersham Heritage Centre, Bersham, Wrexham, LL14 4HT, Tel: +44-1978-261529, Fax: +44-1978-361703. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:55:05 $

History

 
1296first written record of the lead miners of Minera.
1349end of medieval mining because of the Black Death.
1845Minera Mining Company formed by John Taylor & Sons, mining agents from Flintshire.
1852start of production after the refurbishment.
1870sfalling lead prices and rising coal prices cause problems.
1890smining became unprofitable.
1909pumping machines turned off.
1914end of lead mining.
1988Wrexham Maelor Borough Council and the Welsh Development Agency started cleanup work.
1992opened to the public.

Geology

The limestone west of Wrexham is crossed by lead veins. They were formed by volcanism, which means hydrothermal activities which cause mineral rich hot water to circulate and deposit various minerals in the rifts. The main mineral is galena, a lead ore, but other minerals are also common. For mining the mines had to follow the almost vertical veins, which run roughly west to east.

The main metal was lead, which was needed for many purposes, like mirrors, pewter, stained glass, and bullets. There was also some zinc in the ore, which was also very valuable, mostly used to create brass, an alloy of zinc and copper.


Description

The lead mining at Minera is very old, probably 8,000 years. In prehistoric times, soon after the last Ice Age the area of Great Britain was settled by nomadic tribes from the continent, at a time when the channel was still dry. The ore was found rather easily on the floor up on Eisteddfod and Esclusham Mountains above Minera, with no thick vegetation to hide it. After millennia of mining the things have changed, the lead which was mined at Meadow Shaft is deep below the surface.

The first era of intensive lead mining was during the 13th and 14th century, probably earlier. The first written account of the mining also means a decline of mining. In 1296 Edward I hired miners from Minera to work in his new mines in Devon. But not all moved, and mining went on until it was ended by the Black Death in 1349. And during the next centuries various struggles like Owain Glyndwr's uprising and the Wars of the Roses had a pretty bad influence on the economy and thus also on the mining. During the 16th century under the Tudors local landowners and merchants tried to reopen the mines but failed.

The situation changed in the 18th century with the creative entrepreneur and inventor John Wilkinson. He was the owner of the Bersham Ironworks, and built the most reliable steam engines to pump water out of mines. The caves at Minera, located in karst and always in danger to be flooded by an underground river, were hard to mine. Deep mining became profitable because of the pumps, but when the inventors of the steam engines Boulton & Watt, who owned the patents, found out that John Wilkinson had pirated some of their inventions, he had to pay up and disputes over paying for the engines caused the stop of pumping and thus the end of the mining.

The real heyday of the mine was after 1845. The mining agents John Taylor & Sons from Flintshire took over and formed the Minera Mining Company. They had the experience to organize the mining by consolidating the mining leases, investing in new machinery and creating a new drainage level. This took some time, but in 1852 the mine again produced lead, and the market boomed. The miners found new veins, deeper and deeper.

The decline started in the 1870s, when the price of lead started to fall and the price of coal for the pumping engines rose. Then the price of other metals mined at Minera (e.g. zinc) fell too. While becomming more and more unprofitable, mining activities decreased. But it took decades until the mine fianlly closed in 1914. And still the spoil heaps were worked until the 1950s.

Later the spoil heapd became a problem, as lead is toxic, and other elements in the spoile like cadmium too. In a karst area the runoff from the heaps became a threat to water supplies. And poisonous dust from the heaps was blown to the fields nearby producing food. In 1988 the Wrexham Maelor Borough Council and the Welsh Development Agency started to clean up the heaps. But when they removed the heaps, the archaeologic remains of the mining appeared. The archaeologists tried to safe and restore the remains, to prevent them from decay. At Meadow Shaft today the whole journey of lead from the pit head to saleable ore can be seen on a trail around the site. And the work still goes on.


See also


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