Notes on CWMYSTWYTH LEAD MINES, Ceredigion 1993

This image shows the corner of a ruined building with graffiti (magic mushrooms) on the bottom right and shadows from trees on the left.

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.

Although I have visited the mines more times than I can remember - I lived only a few miles away - 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.

Mwvnoloddiau Plwm Cwmvstwvth. Ceredigion 1993
Mae rhai pobl o'r farn bod mwyngloddiau plwm Cwmystwyth yn salw a'u bod yn eu hatgoffa o'r niwed a'r perygl i dirwedd a dyn.

Ceir tystiolaeth o fwyngloddio yng Nghwmystwyth o'r Oes Efydd. Daeth y gweithgarwch hwn i uchafbwynt ar ddiwedd y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg. Roedd Cwmystwyth yn un o fwyngloddiau mwyaf cynhyrchiol y wlad, hyd at ddechrau'r ugeinfed ganrif. Dywedir bod y mwynwyr a oedd yn gweithio yng Nghwmystwyth ar gyfartaledd yn marw yn 32 mlwydd oed a hynny oherwydd gwenwyn plwm. Aeth nifer o ddegawdau heibio ar ol i'r mwyngloddio ddod i ben cyn i'r pysgod ddychwelyd i ddwr gwenwynig afon Ystwyth sy'n llifo wrth droed y mwyngloddiau.
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CWMYSTWYTH MINES, Ceredigion 1990

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