mining at Drws y Coed
It is uncertain when copper
mining at Drws y Coed began. Some believe that the
Romans mined there and this was in the time when they
would work quicklime into a cleft in the rock, pack
it in tightly and leave it there to expand until the
rock split away. Historians believe that there were
rich copper workings in the area at the time of Edward
1st in 1284.
In 1756, Richard Yarrington,
parson of Llangybi, secured a lease from William Smith,
owner of the Faenol Estate to mine for copper on his
lands at Talmignedd, y Ffridd and Drws y Coed.
In 1761, men came from
Cornwall and Scotland to work at Simdde’r Dylluan near
Drws y Coed. They were successful and in the period
at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning
of the nineteenth the work flourished greatly because
of the high demand for copper during Napoleon’s war
Image: Remains of the
old copper workings.
Between 1821 and 1840,
over six thousand tons of copper ore were conveyed
by sea from Caernarfon harbour to Swansea. Before the
opening of the tramway from Nantlle to Caernarfon,
copper would be transported using mules or ponies,
following the old Roman road to Caernarfon (from the
Beddgelert direction past Rhyd Ddu, turning to the
west on the slopes of Mynydd Mawr in the direction
of Y Fron, thence down to Bodaden and across Y Foryd
to Dinas Dinlle).
The miners were paid according
to the work done – so much a square yard for opening
the workings and
so much a ton for the ore, the price of which varied
according to the quality of the vein and the percentage
of metal in the ore. Labourers, blacksmiths, stonemasons
and carpenters were paid when needed. The financial
accounts of Cloddfa Ganol show that between 1829
and 1830 copper to the value of £1,428 was won in Drws
y Coed, and 114 men and 4 boys worked there. This
a large profit for the owners.
A man from Penygroes
questioned his uncle (Peter Roberts) who worked there
in 1896 when he was17 years
could remember 350 working there at one time:
were two very large mines and another two somewhat
smaller ones. The two others were called
But after years of success, the call for copper diminished and the price fell.
Nonetheless towards the end of the century a slight revival and a number
of miners, including women (The Copper Ladies) came from Parys Mountain on
Anglesey to work at Drws y Coed.
The owners of the mine from 1911 to 1918 were the Mining
Corporation of Great Britain and the output was transported
by steam traction to Talysarn Station. There is not
much in the way of records about them. Thereafter
the business went into decline and now there are
only ruins of industry that once was there.
older photograph of the old copper works.