If you visit the site of the old lead mine today what you will see is a sad reflection of what was a thriving and once large and profitable mining operation. Nantymwyn lead mine was one of the largest and most productive mines in southern Wales and at one time employed over 400 people. It is believed that the Romans were the first to mine for ore in the hills above Rhandirmwyn although there is evidence that they may have been worked long before the Romans. (see Simon Hughes’ account). In recent times records show that the mine was in production in 1304 but it was probably the late 1700’s and 1800’s that was its heyday with a massive extraction of lead (100,000 tons) and zinc (500 tons). After much uncertainty the mine finally closed in 1932. In 1792 the artist John ‘Warwick’ Smith a respected artist of his time produced two paintings of Cerrig Mwyn (rocky outcrop above Rhandirmwyn village) and the Nantymwyn lead mine which are now housed at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
General view of Nant y Mowyn, with the Hills rich in Lead above it. The Towey in its early course extends through this valley to Llandovery & the Vale of Towey. Carreg y Mowyn has long been famed for its store of lead. Its Mines were worked by The Romans. Its present Workings have continued since the year 1742 & now belong to Lord Cawdor. The White House under Cerrig y Mowyn, was long the Residence of Mr Rolley, the Native & Experienced Agent of these mines’.
‘Interior of the mining part of Carreg Mowyn where the lead ore is principally carried in boats, through narrow level communications branching from the mines. The boats used in this subterraneous navigation are narrow, sharp at each end of about 5 tons – one man brings out several of these, sometimes using a paddle, sometimes grappling with the rock with his hands, but their favourite method is by lying down on their backs with their feet against the roof, forcing the boat along’.
We have included accounts of the history of the mine by Simon Hughes and Dafydd Dafis. We are very grateful to both for their great assistance and for allowing us to use their historical accounts on the website. Photographs are from the Tom Lewis Gallery and the Gunnel and Jeff Jones collection. If you have any old photographs or information about the Nantymwyn lead mine then please contact us. firstname.lastname@example.org Visit Llywernog Silver-Lead Mine Museum & Caverns www.silverminetours.co.uk Welsh Mines Society www.welshmines.org