CWMYSTWYTH LEAD MINES, From Copa Hill, Credigion 1993

Notes on CWMYSTWYTH LEAD MINES, Ceredigion 1996

The lead mines of Cwmystwyth are considered by some to be an eyesore, a reminder of the damage and the danger on landscape and man. When I first photographed them, back in 1989, the large tin finishing mill still stood, red and rusting, set dramatically against the grey heaps and yellowing hillsides.
Soon after the finishing mill was dismantled and I believe each piece numbered for reconstruction. I do not know where! Many other buildings scatter the valley, all were in a perilous state back in 1989 and twenty years later some have all but vanished. My most successful images were taken in a single afternoon in 1993. I had begun to use a 5x4inch field camera some months previous and this trip, a two mile cycle ride, proved to be a very creative one and the results hopefully prove this.
There is evidence of mining at Cwmystwyth from the Bronze Age and reaching a peak in the late 19th century – Cwmystwyth being one of the countries most productive mines, all the up to early part of the 20th century. It is said that the average age at death of the miners in Cwmystwyth was 32 years due to lead poisoning. It has taken many decades, after the mining finished, for fish to return to the poisoned waters of the river Ystwyth that flow at the foot of the mines.
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Photo comment By neil millington: Hello Paul, I am an artist researching the Cwmystwyth mines with the intention of producing a body of work on the area. I have just stumbled upon your photographs and would like to say how beautiful they are. You seem to have, as a photographer, captured the very essence of the place as indeed i do as a visual artist! As A Welshman myself, I have always been facinated by the Cwmystwyth valley, a mystical and powerful place. It has been quite something to have discovered a kindred spirit. Thanks, Neil

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