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Clwyd Metal Mines Survey


Pen-y-Fron (also known as Bryncelyn Bryncelyn West) lies in the community of Gwernaffield in the county of Flintshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ19806620. The mine is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 103159 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Lead/Silver/Zinc (1798-1913)

The Bryncelyn Lode runs easterly from the river at Nant Alyn to Rhydymwyn Foundry through a belt of Carboniferous Limestone and Cefn-y-fedw Sandstone. The eastern end of the vein runs through alluvial gravel and shale: it is the only record of ore being gained in significant quantity from Lower Coal Measures (Smith 1921).

Evidence of the mine workings, dressing floors and leats fall in a south-westerly direction from the crest of the limestone ridge, near the small ruined house at SJ19986632, in a south-westerly direction to the River Alyn. Smith (1921, 80) illustrates a cross-section of the Bryncelyn Lode, running east to west across the limestone hill, naming the shafts as follows, East Iron, Brick or West Iron, Bryn's, Whim shaft, Wheel Shaft, Rundee, Davey's, Dyer's, Taylor's, Bryncelyn, Old Engine Shaft and Waterwheel Shaft. Within the field of rough pasture to the west of the old ruined house (SJ19986632) are the remains of a shaft filled with rubble at SJ19926631, having the suggestion of a platform alongside it. The shaft and suggestion of engine platform and chimney base remain with clinker evidence at SJ19926630 and is probably Bryncelyn Shaft. A circular stone-lined shaft fenced off at SJ19826631 has a platform area to the north of it, possibly a whim site. Two shafts in woodland at SJ19846630 and SJ19816626 lie just to the north of the large dressing floor area. An adit level, with the shaft entrance collapsed above it remains at SJ19776626. The waterwheel pit site remains at SJ19756625. The twentieth century workings, lie in the limestone woodland of Coed Bryncelyn, above the Alyn valley and the woods are littered with small mounds and depressions. The West Iron Shaft, on the eastern end of the vein appears to lie in dense woodland at SJ20856650, on the site owned by the Brunner Mond Co in 1900-1902. Spoil mounds lie in an area of woodland and wasteground at SJ20356640, now a dump for modern building materials, possibly the site of Davey's and Dyer's Shafts. A single shaft and mound lies in a field of pasture at SJ20156640, possibly Taylor's and two adjacent shafts lie in an area of woodland at SJ20256635; all worked on the eastern side of the ridge. The mine was drained by a level driven in from the River Alyn and much later by the Halkyn Drainage Level.

Trackways run downhill traversing the sides of the steep limestone gorge linking the smelt mill and the valley bottom with the upper workings.

Doccumentary evidence (Williams 1987) lists a 60in Newcomen Engine already in operation at Old Engine Shaft in 1798, working one 16in and two 14in pumps and three waterwheels. The years 1824-1845 saw the amalgamation of most of the mines of Mold Mountain, under the auspices of mining engineer John Taylor. The Mold Mines invested large sums of money on engines, pumping equipment and the lavish construction of leetes to service the mines during this period. John Taylor's records list the following pumps for Pen-y-Fron 1825-30, a 66in engine with 22in pumps on Old Engine Shaft, a 64in engine with 18in pumps on Bryncelyn Shaft, a 63in engine, erected in 1827 on Taylor's Shaft. A 44ft waterwheel with a 7ft breast, worked 18in pumps at Waterwheel Shaft and 18in.pumps possibly worked by the waterwheel at at Nell's Shaft. At Rhydymwyn, the east end of the Pen-y-fron mine, a 46in engine, which also worked a whim shaft by rods across the River Alyn was in use at Brick/West Iron Shaft and a 44ft waterwheel with 8ft breast worked Wheel Shaft. Fieldwork revealed the extent of work that was involved in constructing the leat system. The leat were partly quarried out and partly walled. Well preserved sections remain and appear to have been approx 2 m wide and 1.5 m deep. The leat appears to have fed the dressing floor at Pen-y-fron/Bryncelyn (SJ1985066230) and the waste water from this ran downhill to drive Waterwheel Shaft.

The large three limestone walls that retain the levels of the descending dressing floor area near Pen-y-Fron cottage remain in a very good state of preservation at SJ1985066230. It is difficult to define any areas within the floors due to the dense undergrowth .There are no traces of washing waste. Downhill to the south another set of walls form a similar revetment. The Penyfron Smelt was built in the valley by Richard Ingleby, who owned the mine in 1786. The smelting houses, powered by two waterwheels, were alongside the River Alyn upstream from the now Nant Alyn Mill (SJ19706607). The mill was powered by a waterwheel and rolled the lead into sheets. Evidence of lead dressing and the earthbanks of a reservoir remain at SJ19876639.

Other features
A possible mine office remains at SJ19956630.It appears to be a single room construction with a fireplace to the north-east and although the stone wall remain fairly complete,the roof has gone.

This HTML page is reproduced from the Powys and Clwyd Metal Mine Surveys which were undertaken between May 1992 and December 1993 by Mark Walters and Pat Frost of the Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust with financial support from Powys County Council, Clwyd County Council and Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments. Further information about this site is available in CPAT's Regional Historic Environment Record.
Page produced by Rachel Stebbings and Chris Martin.

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