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Powys Metal Mines Survey

Cwm Elan

Cwm Elan lies in the community of Rhayader in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SN90006510. The mine is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 5945 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Lead/Zinc (1796-1877)

There are at least two lodes striking east-west in Silurian Llandoverian rocks with galena and zinc mineralisation.

These consist of two shafts, two or three levels and two adits which belong to the later workings. Both of the shafts are open. A level has been driven westwards in the rock face above the westernmost shaft. The other level on the south side of the stream is blocked. The earliest workings appear to have worked outcropping vein material on the northern side of the stream which runs past the dressing floors and consist of shallow openworkings and blocked levels. There are some dry channels running down the slope from west to east and passing through the early workings which are reminiscent of prospect hushing channels though they may have been created by the rupturing of leats contouring the slopes from north to south.

There are earthwork traces of tramway beds leading from the southern level out onto the small tip while others can be discerned running out of the main engine shaft onto the tips. There are two leats contouring the valley slopes from north to south which supply water from Nant Mechan to the dressing floors. The stream which runs past the dressing floors also supplied water to the mine. These features are however dwarfed by the engineering feat of cutting a nine mile leat course from Llyn Cerrigllwydion Isaf (SN 844700) to the Cwm Elan Mine in 1876. This work took only three months to complete and the complete course of the leat can still be traced.

There are three wheelpits on the dressing floors. The largest of these pumped the engine shaft and measured 36x4ft. The crusher house wheel drove two crushing rolls and a Blake's stonebreaker. Below the crusher house wheelpit is a smaller wheel pit which presumably powered the buddle.

A large crusher house housed two sets of crushing rolls. The large rolls support beams still survive propped up against the wall. The water wheel axle survives and is situated in the crusher room. There is a single round buddle with surviving wooden basal frame struts and a covered leat exiting to the east. There are numerous low stone-lined platforms to the north of the buddle which probably represent jigger platforms. There is a large tailings tip to the north of these platforms. There are two surviving ore bins below the engine shaft with the possibility of a third damaged example adjacent to these. There are numerous earthwork platforms running down the slope alongside the stream which are associated with small areas of manual ore dressing. These probably date to the earliest phase of working in the eighteenth century.

Other features
There is a mine office/ store building north of the jigger tailings which has two rooms. To the east of this building is a house which may be the main mine administration building. Immediately east of this is another house of more recent construction which appears to be an unfinished dwelling. Below the southern level at the western extreme of the mine site is a small single roomed building which may have been the magazine.

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.