"Mango Tapes two"

This is the second tape recording of the Rhiw Manganese Mines, by Wilf Ryan,  Huw Jones  and  Lewis Jones.


1902?  He started work in  1902  did he? 

1902,  iawn.  Er mod i yn yr ysgol.

Ydw i yn cofio bod ni yn gweld yr hen drên bach hono yn mynd heibio Bodwyddog pan o’n i yn yr ysgol.

Ym be?

Oedd na hen drên bach.

Oedd, o’n i efo’r hen beth bach hono yn hir iawn.

Yn dreifio honno?

Do yn tad, yn hir iawn.

He was one of the drivers.

Was he?  On the engine?  That went from?

Right down from the beach up to the big farm, Bodwyddog.


Yes, I see.  From there up to the mine you went by cable?  On the drum?

The other mine was working on the cable, you see.

I see.

The mountain went down to Hell’s Mouth.

That was the top mine, was it?  If you’d rather speak Welsh, speak Welsh.

Both mines were boundering one another.

Yes, very close.

They were saying you were coming to my territory and I’m coming to yours.


Oh, yes.  The surveyors were there often enough.  You know Ty Rhedyn?  Huw knows Ty Rhedyn, won’t you?


Hen Richard Jones Ty Rhedyn yn deud i bod nhw o dan dy Ty Rhedyn.

O ia?

Dwad o Nant y Gadwan rwan.

Ia,  ia.

Fynna fo ddim nag oeddan nhw o dan dy Ty Rhedyn.  A saethu medda fo, nes oedd o yn clywad y gwely yn codi o dano fo.  

Ha  ha  ha.

Fuo’n cael surveyor yno.


A tanio pan oedd y surveyor yno, a’r surveyor yn deud, “I don’t hear.”  “They’re there,”  medda fynta,  “It’s my territory, they are there.”

Os ydi well gynno chi siarad Cymraeg, you can speak in Welsh.

Please, please speak in Welsh because probably it’s easier for you, oh, I can translate this in the winter, my Welsh is very limited.

Not long ago, three weeks I think, there’s a lady here had heard of someone born in Rhiw, John Bryngoleu.

Oh ia?

Glywsoch chi sôn amdano fo?


Ag oedd arni isio some history about Rhiw, he had a good life, but he has not had many of these correct, you know.  She’s correcting them for many years, they wouldn’t be right at all to book them in as they were, they were proper lies.

Yes, that’s true.

The people who’s been telling her was not old enough.


Only, you have heard me say, yes, and then I’ve heard someone else say, and the two stories were not the same.

Was this Eilwen Jones?  The young lady from Rhiw?  Do you know Tecwyn Jones?  Do you know Tecwyn Jones from Rhiw, do you?

Tecwyn Tanmuriau?

I think so, yes.

I thought he’d got a mini-bus.

He’s got a sister, Eilwen Jones, who has written something about the mines of Rhiw.

Oh ia?

You haven’t met her, have you?

Chwaer Tecwyn.

Olwen ia?  Mae wedi sgwennu rhywbeth. There is some relations to me, but it doesn’t matter.


There is some relations but the lady told me that Olwen Jones has been telling about this like this, and this like that, she’d got it written in a book.

That’s right, a thesis.

I told her, believe me, that is not right.  She said “I will leave it as it is, and put what you say down.”  Those two stories are absolutely different, you know.

Yes, this is the problem, you see, that’s why I want to try and get an accurate statement now before everybody forgets.


You know. I went to school in when, when, well it was nineteen what was it?  I was about six years of age when I went to school, it wasn’t compulsory that time for you to go to school, but some were going, the children who were nearer school, they were going at five, something like that, but I was six, and I remember many, many things, there is nobody alive today that can tell you.

That’s right.

There isn’t anybody.

I know.

Because I am, how old I am?

Twenty five.

Ha  ha.

I’ll be ninety in February next.

Will you?

I thought so.

If I’ll be alive.

Oh you’ll be alive all right,  ha  ha.

 What have you got for me to start with?  In the very beginning when I was at school, the mine was going.

In Nant Gadwan, Porth Ysgo?  In Nant Gadwan or up here?  Where was it going?  Was it going?


And Nant Gadwan as well?



Yes, when I was at school, we were running down at meal-time you know, esgob, not a meal you know, we got a crust in one hand.

Ha  ha.

And down to Porth Ysgo to look at them working, then we were about an hour-and-a-half coming to school in the afternoon.

Cane then?

Ew annwyl, yes.

Well, it was working.

Well, before the First War.

There was no sign of any war, you know.

Well I wasn’t there, but where were they sending the manganese to?

That time, you know, they were sending it to Scarborough.


Yes, to start with, then Germany was having all the stuff you know.

Was it?

Uw annwyl yes, every ounce of it was going to Germany.

Germany, before the First World War?


To prepare for the war.

That’s what they were like, every pound.  They were sending ships to Porth Ysgo.  Well I’m sure some of them were carrying two thousand tons, you know.


As big as that?  Big ships like that?

Yes, from Germany.

Two thousand tons?

They were sending them from Germany.  They were going there, without not half their load they were taking away, there was not enough water for them to float, you know, with not much more than four hundred tons.


They were going to Germany with four hundred tons, and they could carry two thousand.

A ha.

So that must have been very important to them.

Well it was very important for them, or they wouldn’t send two thousand ton ships to get four hundred tons.

And they had enough water to load four hundred tons?

That’s right.

Then they were digging up in the mountain, we say Gwaith y Mynydd, a’r llall yn Waith Gerddi, the lower one, Gerddi Ty Croes, ynte.  Well, they were working there in the mountain, and was named British Manganese.

British Manganese, that’s right.

The other was  .  .  .  There was manganes and iron wasn’t there?

Yes, in the mountain, we call, we call Gwaith y Mynydd, this was up in the mountain, then they were working a vein that was about four yards wide on that ground, I can’t tell you how high it was, and they stored it outside in the mountain, and I think there is some there today.

So we saw.



They sent some of that away to Gwaith Isa, They both came to Porth Ysgo.  Quarry load was this, it wasn’t a big load, about three hundred-weight, then three hundred tons, they took it to the blast furnace.


Yes, somewhere, I can’t remember the name of the bally thing now.

Ha  ha.

I know that there was a blast furnace there somewhere.

That’s right, yes.

Well, this load went off to somewhere, to Gwaith Isa, gentleman came there a couple of weeks after that, and told them they would not pay them a single penny for what they had sent them.


That that wasn’t manganese at all.


It was muck, they said.


This gentleman owned the furnace, you see.


“You know we have to clear our furnace now, and re-build it, the furnace is damaged.”

Ah,  and this was from the seam that was four yards wide?

Yes, well there you are, stop there and go somewhere else.  Then a short time after after that, you know,  Germany was listening, it must be, because this went to their ears, the story about destroying their furnace, and they came there and wanted to see it, talking in Gwaith y Mynydd, I’d been taking samples of it for him from half-a-dozen banks or more than that, and then they were taking them away to Germany.


After taking them to Germany and analysing it in Germany, the Germans said, “We are coming there for the whole bally lot you’ve got,” and they say there were about four thousand tons, that’s a big heap, I remember that alright, you know.


They took away every ounce, and there was no more, they were not going to work it, and they said they would pay the men for digging it up, well, it was no use putting two different kind of men working, was it?


You were on that vein and I was on this one,  they haven’t had it anyway, but the thing is, what did Germany found in bank that you’re sending such a goods to carry it away?

A ha.

It was funny, wasn’t it?

Very funny,  very funny, and the Chester people didn’t think it was manganese?

It wasn’t at all, and yet they called it manganese glas.


Blue manganese they called it, I’m sure there’s some of it there today, and about there somewhere, you know.


It wasn’t as hard as the ore, you know.  No, not half as hard,  that ore in Gwaith y Mynydd, in the top thing, you were chopping it with the sledge myn diawl.

You’d beat the sledge?

It would sing like a bell.

Ah,  yes I know, I’ve done it.

There was something in it, you know.


The manganese in the other mine wasn’t the same thing altogether, more reddish colour.


That’s the mountain manganese.

Blue, black.  Black-blue, yes.

Black, that’s at the top of the mountain.

I’ll go and find some, yes.  Most of the manganese I’ve seen has been either reddish, a reddy colour, or blue-black.

Where did you find that?

On the mountain near the mine, Second World War, the one by tan y Pisgah.

Ty Canol, it’s bluey-black, nearly black.

That is not the same quality at all, as  the mountain.

The mountain is better quality, is it?

O wannwl yes, many times,

I see.

You couldn’t get that, Analysing it would be very good for you to get forty per cent.

Yes indeed.

Very good.  Yes, .  .  .  it was doing about fifty, fifty to fifty-five.


More than that at times you know.

Ty Canol, I read that Ty Canol was doing from twenty to twenty-five.

I thought it was more.

You think it was more than that?

Oh yes, yes it was between thirty and forty.

And the top one about sixty or seventy?

Oh yes.

That’s very good.

They wouldn’t tell you how much they were analysing, you know, in the top.

No  no, I bet,  ha  ha.

When they came there during the last war you know, they were working there during the war, weren’t they?  Soldiers.




Those Canadians?

Canadians.  They came along and found new rocks that nobody has ever been near them.

That’s right.

And they know where they are today too.

I don’t know, yes.

They know.

Do you know?  Do you know where they are?

Well, I know.

Down below?

I know in some places, how deep they were this time.  They were not so deep when we were working there.


They were working above two levels, you know.

Where’s this now?  In Nant Gadwan, or the hill?

On the hill.  When we were working last.  Have you been down in Nant Gadwan?


Well, been just down on the beach have you?


You know that we were working below the sea level down there, when we were working there last, we were below sea level.

Is that why you had water trouble?  You had trouble with the water?

They had to get some electric pumps to find the other ones once.  They couldn’t do anything with it, you know.

Couldn’t they?

Oh no,  when them electric pumps came there to search for the others, a foot pipe, and that was when the water was going all day, a lot of water going out, wasn’t it?


Going like hell it was too.

Huh  huh.

There were electric pumps, where was this?

In the last war.

In Nant Gadwan?

Yes,  oh yes, they broke into certain water, they lost the pumps, so much water in, they couldn’t get any at all.


Duw annwyl, yes.

They didn’t work in Nant Gadwan the last war, did they?

No, there was nowhere to carry them away, the pier was gone.


We had that engine out, remember?

Oh,  yes.

Mr. Roger Prys.

Yes,  Roger Prys, Roger Prys didn’t know anything about the dying wonder.

He did all right.

By gum he did some good money out of it.

Oh  yes.

Ew wannwyl, he made money out of it, he didn’t know anything between manganese and muck.

He  he  he.

But he owned the mineral rights, did he?  He owned the rights to all the minerals?

Yes, yes, the estate you know, Nanhoron, he was some agent in Nanhoron, wasn’t he?

Yes,  and then once he got some manganese out, well, the Ministry came in then, didn’t they?

He had full house to it, it was their station.  Oh he did all right, didn’t he.  He wasn’t chewing the bones, but the flesh.

And putting on fat.

He did all right, and every time, I don’t see him very often, you know, he ask me, “Sut wyt ti heddiw, Llew?” 

Do you see him sometimes, do you?

Oh  yes.

Is the solicitor still alive?

Yes,  he lives towards Rhyl or somewhere.

Yes,  away,  he comes to Pwllheli quite often, I’ve seen him, “Sut wyt ti heddiw Llew?”   Then, we were at school, and there was some noise that there was something coming up to Gwaith y Mynydd, we were talking about Gwaith y Mynydd now, the mountain, and there were some big engines coming there or something every day, for things to come, I wanted to get off four o’clock, then along to Lôn Parciau, to see if there was anything, and one day it came, two steam engines, dwy hen dracsion fawr, yn dwad a nhw, y weiran i fanno.

Oeddan nhw yn mynd a nhw i Borth Neigwl, Lewis?  Ffordd fydda yr hen dybia rheini yn mynd, hen betha rheini oedd yn mynd ar y weiran?

They are still there.  One is still there.

Over the top to Porth Neigwl.

I Borth Neigwl oedd rheini yn mynd?

Ia,  mae co’ gen i iddyn nhw fynd i Nant Gadwan.

‘Dwi’n cofio hono’n mynd, pan oeddan ni yn yr ysgol yn hen blant, heibio Bodwyddog.

One of these engines is one I showed you last night.

They are still there, you said?

Yes,  one is still there.

Wedyn, mae yr hen injan stêm ar yr ochor yna o hyd, medda fo, oedd hi yn mynd?

Do you see that?  I’ve got photographs of this, and I didn’t bring them with me, you see.  I left them in London, which was a big mistake.

When I went, when I was at school, about the time for me to come out from school, it was  1902,  was it?  I was at school in  1902,  I remember these mines were working then, and in the time from  1902  to three four fives, something like that, the aerial ropeway came to Gwaith y Mynydd, you understand Gwaith y Mynydd, don’t you?

Yes  yes.

Mountain Mine.


That aerial ropeway came to Gwaith y Mynydd.

Over the top to Hell’s Mouth?

Towards Hell’s Mouth.

To Craig Ddu?

To Craig Ddu, yes,  and then, I think they say it was ten tons in weight, that two tractors were dragging it there from somewhere, I don’t know, and gone on the road after they passed just when you enter by the incline to that bottom mine, the two tractors stopped, the two broke their axles at the same time, and the two steam engines were in the ditch, they had to get more big tractions from Felin Newydd;  William Felin Newydd used to store many kind of things, you know, and he had two very, very big steam wagons, same as they had working the hobby-horses, you’ve seen them, haven’t you?

Oh  yes, yes.

He’s got two like that, at Felin Newydd there, and he brought them there and pulled the two to pieces and take them away, and take the aerial rope-way up to the mine, and on the way, very near to get through to the mountain from the road, something happened again to the reel, and it went and smashed into the ground.


Well by gum.

How big was it?

What was to do after that?  So they went for the carpenter, and he put some new ends to the drum.


And they got it together, finish it then took it to the Mynydd, then there it was on the stand, ready to be pulled down to Hell’s Mouth, and they came, I remember all right, we were at school the first day that the cables were actually working, the schoolmaster was alright, that they were going on to work, and he was watching for us through the window, and when they started, and he said “Get out now and everybody to be silent and must not get to the road.  If anybody get on the road they must come in to the school.”  And there we are, and it went on to Hell’s Mouth, then it turned on to the wheel, and now then, they want to get the other end up now, they were winding them, you know.


Until it went up to the top of the mountain.

Well, that was the end of the rope-way?  The end of the rope-way was near, was it near the crossroads in Rhiw?

Not far.

Further on towards Sarn?  In the Sarn direction?

It was only a few yards off the road.

A hundred yards?


On a big circle and the wires down another big wheel at the bottom, and wires back up, but there are no signs of the foundations there now, I can’t find any.

They’ve gone years ago, they carried the foundations away to somewhere, the scrap merchants have been there, getting all the iron up, more than that too, they took everything that they could get hold of.

Did they?

Yes.  When they were loading the boats on Hell’s Mouth, I told you about some boats coming from Germany, and in the end, in  1912,  Hitler came over with the manganese and straight all over us.

That’s right.

Remember?  Remember that, don’t you?

Yes,    no, I wasn’t born.

Get away.

I wasn’t born until  1917,  I’m only a boy, I’m only sixty three.

It was at Porth Ysgo, the incline was working there, you know.


Running them down.

What was driving the incline, was there an engine there for the incline?


Weight of the one truck pulling the other up?

The full ones pull the other up.

That’s right.

They put the aerial along the jetty.

Did they?

Yes, but the thing didn’t work.

I see.

Didn’t work at all, you know, it was the same principle altogether, there was an engine turning that wheel, it was a cog-wheel, that was the engine, but it wouldn’t go, they had to take the old-fashioned, the heavy ones to pull the empty to the top.

How old do you think he is?

He’s just told us, he’s just a boy isn’t he, just a boy,  he’ll tell us about you shortly.

I’m sure.    (Much laughter).

What was the old engine that we took up?  Pumping?  That old engine that we took up.

Oh yes.  The water.  Do you know where that is?


Well, we were told that someone came here to buy, bought it and took it away to India somewhere.

Ew, it went to India?

Yes, they took it to India.  They couldn’t get one anywhere else.


I don’t know.  Aeth honno i India?  Pa fêc oedd hi?  Pa fêc oedd hi, dydw i ddim yn cofio?  National?  Dwi ddim yn cofio, oedd hi yn injan fawr yn doedd?  Trio dyfeisio pw fêc oedd yr hen injan oel oeddan ni, ond fuo chi â’r hen John Criga Bach yn dreifio hono.

Na, fuo Jac ddim arni, ‘doedd John Criga Bach ddim yno amsar hyny.

Yn yr hen Nant Gadwan?

Na, efo ryw hen graen oedd hen John, ysdi.

O ia?

Craen coch oeddan nhw yn i alw fo.

O duwch.

Fuo’n dreifio’r hen graen.  Y boi ddoth a hi,  .  .  .  Glywsoch chi sôn am hen Owans Barbar yn dre na?

O do.

Oedd o yn frawd i hwnnw.

Oeddan ni yn sôn am osod yr hen injan fawr yma hefyd ynte, y ddwytha.

O ia.

Yr hen beth fawr hono, oedd hono yn fawr gynddeiriog, yn doedd.

Oedd, faint o bowar oedd hi?

Ow, oedd hi’n beth ofnadwy yn doedd.

Eso bach oedd.  Fedra’i ddim cofio.

Mae yr hen waith yma yn mynd ers talwm felly, yndi?   Rhwng Gwaith y Mynydd a phob man, yn tydi?

Ew yndi, ers dau neu dri chan mlynedd yn ôl.

The Gwaith y Mynydd was the first mine, then the Nant Gadwan was second, then back to Gwaith y Mynydd.

There was .  .  .

All going together?

Yes.  There was a mine at Ty Canol as well.

At the same time?

Yes, same time as Gwaith y Mynydd.

But not the same company?


Then there was another mine at Tyddyn Meirion, yes, that was another company.

I see, so there were four companies?

Four companies there.

O lle ‘roedd yr hen dracsions yn cario yn y Rhyfal Cynta, Lewis? Lle oeddan nhw yn llwytho, dwch?  Oedd ‘na hen dracsions a Martin a rheina efo nhw, ‘dach chi’n cofio? 

Oedd gynnyn nhw le i lwytho?

Oeddan nhw wedi gneud hopar felly te, fedra nhw fagio yr hen dracsion.

Run fath ag oeddan nhw yn llwytho y tro dwytha?

Ia.  Oedd ‘na ddwy neu dair o’r hen dracsions mawr rheini yn mynd, yn doedd.

Oedd tad, oedd ‘na bedair.  Â mynd.  Mynd nes oedd cwbwl yn dipia.  Pedair welis i.  ‘Dwi’n cofio Martin yn dwad o’r dre,  oedd Martin ddim yn cweit iddi, ysti, amsar hono ces i leisans dreifio, ysdi.


Fuo raid i mi fynd efo Martin.

O ia?

I’r dre, ne ddou y diawl ddim adra y diwrnod.

Oho  ia.

Ddou o ddim adra y diwrnod, oedd raid i minna’ fynd efo fo, i nadu iddo fynd ar y bws, ar y bws, o ni yn ei nadu o waethaf yn fy nannadd.  If he went there for more than a glass, the whole dealing would be off.

Ha  ha.

But,  mi fuom yn dwad efo fo rhyw dro efo llwyth o lo, a oedd yr hen dracsion yn y gwaith amsar hynny, yn y gwaith.

O ia?

Ac oeddan ni yn pasio yr hen dracsion yn Beudy Bigin, efo’r motor, yn de, a Martin yn mynd fel y fflamia a gafal yn yr olwyn i gadw fo ar y lôn, de.

Ho  ho.

Yn Congol Cae fanna, mae ‘na bwll mawr, dwn i ddim ydio yno o hyd ai peidio?

Mae nhw wedi i gau o rwan.

Wel dyma Martin yn i gneud hi yn union ô’r lôn i’r pwll, i’r blydi pwll, i’r blydi pwll.  Wel dyna fo, oedd rhaid mynd a trio crafu i agor y drws, ar gamfa-lêd ar i gefn o, a trio mynd at i ben o.  Mi ddoth Martin odd’no dat i groen.  Oedd Martin ddim yn gwbod rwan, y dracsion i ddwad i fyny, de, a dyma nhw yn trio, a beth oedd wedi digwydd iddo fynd i’r pwll?  Ddaru o ddim trio peidio, me fi.  Mi roethon cheinia, fydda nhw byth heb cheinia, heb ddigon o cheinia, wedyn ar ryw ochor wedi iddi fwrw glaw, myn diawl, a mynd a rhaffa a cheinia efo ni i bob man lle bydda ni yn mynd, yn de.  Rwan, dyma y cheinia yn yr hen lori rwan, dew, off a ni, trio cael hyd iddi, wel, gaethon hyd iddi, y stîm wagon, a’i phen blaen at y wagan, y motor, yn de.  Na hi ddim cynnig, ddim cynnig, dim ond troi a malu’r lôn yn dipia, wel, “Dos a hi i droi yn fanna a tro hi yn ôl,”  mynd a hi, i gael i gwynab hi at y lôn, mi trowd hi yn ôl, a cheinia wrth yr hen fotor, a bachu yn rwla fedra chi, te.  Ceuson ni hi, mi startiodd beth bynnag, lluchio rhyw friga a ryw eithin, mi cawson hi, mi ddoth, ond roedd Martin wedi mynd, odd o yn chwil gaib, wydda Martin ddim byd lle oedd o, wydda fo ddim lle oedd o.  Wel rwan, doeddwn i ddim wedi pasio yn ddreifar, ar y rôd, yn te.  Oedd raid i mi i dreifio hi rwan, o fan’no i Nant Gadwan.  Duw, iawn taswn i yn cael heddwch, oedd Martin yn deud mod i yn rhy ara deg, wel doedd ô ddim yn rhy ara deg, nagoedd?  Waeth pa’r un, mi ges i un (leisans), ymhen hir a hwyr.  Oedd ‘na le ar y cythral yno.

Oedd yr hen dracsions yma, oeddan nhw yn cario o Nant Gadwan hefyd, Lewis?

Nag oeddan, nag oeddan, dim ond o Benallt, ia, o Benallt oeddan nhw’n gario fo, fedra nhw ddim mynd, fedra nhw ddim i gâl o ô Nant Gadwan, ysdi, fedra nhw ddim mynd i lawr.

Na fedran siwr.  Wedyn pan oeddat yn ei godi o, oedd o yn mynd i lawr inclên, yn doedd?


How did you become the driver of the engine?

Well, the first licence,  -I’ve got it today,  -  in  1912,  and I got it.

Wel wedyn, fuo chi yn dreifio yr hen injans yn y gwaith am flynyddoedd felly, Lewis, yn do?

Do,  do yn tad.

O,  fuo chi ar yr hen drên bach hefyd yn do?

Do yn tad achan, duw do, fuo fi ar yr hen loco yn hir iawn.

Wel, oedd hi yn mynd a dipyn o wageni, Lewis?

Pedair, pedair.

Ah. A wedyn mynd ar hyd y dydd yn ôl a blaen felly?

Ia, reit hwnna arni dywydd glyb a ballu, a dwad a phedair wag yn ôl.  Ond oedd raid i chi dendio am ych bywyd efo mynd a phedair i lawr, pan fyddai yn ‘lyb.

Mae’n siwr, yn doedd.

Ew annwyl dad, oedd.  Un waith oedd hi yn dechra llithro, oedd ‘na ddim ond trio i dal hi a’i phen i’r clawdd, un waith y dechra gwelach chi hi yn slipio, y munud hwnnw, dim i weitiad i udrach stopia hi, oedd hi yn no good, achan.

Oedd ‘na dipyn o waith wedi bod i wneud y rêl bob cam, ‘doedd, i Nant Gadwan.

Wannwyl oedd.  Oeddan nhw yn gosod yr hen rêl pan oeddwn yn yr ysgol,  ‘ffyla oedd ‘na i ddechra, pedwar o ‘ffyla mawr gynddeiriog, hen ‘ffyla o Birmingham ne rwla, hen ‘ffyla duon.


Horses doing it.


Before the locomotive.

Yes.  Ah, I thought they were.

Horses, he said.

Four horses.  Oeddach chi’n nabod ‘r hen Griffith Ty’n Cae, d’wch?

Ô’n tad.

Hen Griffith oedd efo nhw fel certmon, te.

O ia?

Wannwl oedd golwg arno ngwas annwl i.  Oedd o yn frawd i Owan Plascoch yn doedd.


Oedd yr hen Griffith yn frawd i Owan Plascoch.

Dwn i ddim.

Oedd.  Owan Benallt a Griffith Benallt.

Where were the horses stabled?

At Ty Croes Bach.

Where’s that?

Just by,   the farm by the road just opposite.

That’s it.  There is, yes.

Dwn i ddim, ddaru nhw fildio, ddaru nhw fildio un stabal yno, do.

Ella wir ichi.

Where was the engine shed?

Down in Nant Gadwan.

There’s a ruin there now, the old ruin is still there, I think.

In Nant Gadwan?

In there, I don’t know.

Let’s see if I’ve got a picture.

Dos na neb yn fyw sydd rwan dest yn cofio, Lewis, yn cofio dim am yr hen weithydd yma.


Dydy nhw wedi mynd i gyd.

Meddyliwch faint o bobol oedd yno yn gweithio, yn gweithio de, adag es i yno o’r ysgol, oedd ‘na tua pedwar cant yn gweithio rhwng y ddau fein.

Ew, oedd?

Can you see that?

About four hundred people working there when he went there.

In  1912?

Pa bryd aethoch chi yno, Lewis, i’r gwaith?

Beth oedd hi dwad?   1906.

O   ia, and there were four hundred people working there altogether?


Between Nant Gadwen and the Mynydd?

Oh yes.

Was this the old engine shed?


I thought it might be, you can see where it veers in, you can see where the line used to go into the shed and then come out on the main track, I thought it was when I went down there, ah  well, that’s cleared that mystery.  I don’t know if you’ve asked him about the drum, Huw?

In the field above, you can see it in the distance, hold on, do you know that drum?

Gai roi ‘r hen sbectol yma?

Do you see it?

Yes,  yes,  oh yes, this is the wire rope, isn’t it?

It is still there.

Ew annwyl, no.

Yea, it is, we saw it today.

Not the rope?

The rope is there, yes.

Is it?

Yes, a bit rusty, but it is there.

I thought it was scrap, that it had been taken away.

Look, there is another, the same one, and you can see the rope on that.

Oh yes.

You can see it on that, can’t you Huw?


I took those pictures about three months ago, so it’s there now.

You know the fellow living there or next door or house after, he wanted you to come with him, he heard about the mines like this and the mines like that, his grandfather was working there, duw annwyl, his grandfather had gone and know nothing about it, nothing there that the grandfather  .  .  .  he was out of time, the time was good when the first war was over.

Pity,  so they operated between the wars, but not very much, then they stopped in  1945.


Why did they stop, do you know?

When the war stopped.  There was nobody there, no marketing, the war, you know.

I see.

After that they couldn’t get it away, the ore, and that was expensive, very expensive.  The two jetties have gone, Porth Neigwl and Nant Gadwan, they’re in pieces.

Loris oedd yn cario rhyfal ddwytha, loris.


Was the quality of the ore getting poor?

Oh no.

Still good?

There’s plenty of it.  You know, the deeper you get down the better the thing is.


Yes, every time.  Because I’d been talking to them borers, that were there during the war, “Is it any better or worse the deeper you go?  Better or worse?”  “Every foot you get down it’s better.”  And they, wannwyl,  got no idea how many feet they’ve been drilling down, they’re drilling for days and days, you know, on one hole.

And bringing up the samples?  About that long, were they?  About that thick?


Smaller than that?  Something like  .  .  .  top of a cup?

Not as big as that neither.

Two inches? 

Somewhere about that size.

Were they analysing them on the spot, or were they sending them away?

They took what they think the best for samples, and then put samples in some certain box, and send them away, then number one and number two, then get results back in certain time, you know.

These were the Canadians?

Yes, they’re not Canadians, they some nationality, not Canadian, some Russian-Canadian or something like that.

I see, not real Canadians, they were mixed with some other nationalities.

Yes,  there were some buggers there you know, uw annwyl, you had to mind yourselves, myn diawl.  There was a sergeant there, he is afraid of them, he was shaking like this when he was talking to them for to do something, he was afraid to tell them something like this and like that, ew annwyl, so he went away and left them, they’ve done  good job too,  I wouldn’t stay with the buggers either.   Ew annwyl dad, they were ready with their knives, you know, ew annwyl, yes.

Turning in those diamond drills.

Yes, and how was it, forty and forty five diamonds on the drill, it would be a good job to fix them to the point of the drill, forty on some, forty five on the others, they were only a ring like that, and they were boring small holes there, then a chap would bsht with a sledge, and the diamond was good, and they put a sledge on top of it, but it was there all right.


They drove the diamond into the metal, and it held it while it drilled, that’s all it wanted, wasn’t it?


How long did they last?  How long would a drill last before it wore out?

Ew, they’d be boring for hours.  They’d be boring for hours and hours.

They’d be industrial diamonds, wouldn’t they?

I remember em coming in about one o’clock, thank God they’d finished in that place, they’d been there for twenty hours, drilling one hole.  But mind you, that was the length of it, the depth of the ore, it was yards and yards, wasn’t it?

Yes.  Through very hard rock.


‘Cause all the rock around there is hard, isn’t it?  Even if it isn’t manganese, it is granite and dolerite?

Some of it is, yea, there is good granite in places, rhyw hen chwaral Rowlands oeddan nhw yn i galw hi, mae ‘na granite da yna.  They’re not going to play with manganese that I’d been playing with, uw annwyl, it’s hard enough for you to handle all the time.


To handle it all the time, I’m sure.  That side would be into it.

What sort of wages would they have got?

 Labouers would be eighteen shillings, and miners a pound a week?


Not very good, is it? That was the First World War, I suppose?

Ew annwyl,  ia, they’d say a pound to hell today, wouldn’t they? Ew annwyl.

     It wasn’t very much in the last war,  how much, Lewis?  A few pounds/

Four pounds, something like that.

It wouldn’t buy you cigarettes now.

And it was wet in Porth Ysgo there, Lewis, wasn’t it, it was very wet underground?

You were standing one side of the shaft, at the bottom, and it was dry this side, and the water was pouring down, we couldn’t see one another from here to there, that’s the kind of water it was.

That’s in Gwaith y Mynydd?

Yes,  coulsdn’t see one another, it was no use to put drive in, you wouldn’t be down for three minutes and you’d be soaking wet, the only thing is to wear ragged clothes, then change them for dry ones in the dry house, and put other warm on, you know, and dive in and start working like hell to keep warm as soon as you get in.  You’d be soaking there.  That’s how it was dangerous to health, you know, no use, you’d get out of the place, you’d have to go like hell and put dry ones on.

Was Ty Canol wet as well?

Not half so much. 

Not half so much?

No, there was nothing like that there, it was deeper, you know, into the mountain.

I see.

You go into the hell of a water, a stream, ew annwyl.

Ty Canol went about two hundred feet deep, the shaft?

I don’t think.

 Not as deep as that?

No,  ew annwyl, no.  No, I don’t think, say fifteen to twenty yards, somewhere about that, the depth of the shaft.

I see.

They get into the main ore then.

And then they went on levels then?

Yes, and it was something funny, you know, I remember we were working on a vein, you know, oh, we’d been on going for months and months, on a vein, it was four yards or six, something like that, and we fancy one day that the top was dropping down, we talking to one another, “Diar annwyl, we’ve got to go somewhere else to find some more ore, is this going to finish?”  Duw annwyl yes, every time we were blasting, the top was coming down.

Coming in, yes.

One evening we were working on the night shift, and one of the fellows said, “I’m going to put a hole right in here, to see, this side is sounding hard, but this one is not, the other side of the cutting, this side is hard, I’d put a hole in here.”  And here they are drilling, after it went about eighteen inches, there was a change in the thing.  “I going into something harder now, carry on.”  Went up to two feet, them we are in the rock.  “Be ‘nawn ni?  What shall we do now, shall we blast?”  Ew, yes?”  I went for the dynamite, fill it up, you know, there was another surface twice as big as the one we had just gone through, the veins lay on one another, about two feet of muck between the two.  Well, I’d been there, they’d been there for two or three years working on the vein.

And didn’t know the other one was there?   They worked on one vein and they found the other.

Oh no, they didn’t know it was there until the bit of top was coming down.  And that’s how it is in Nant Gadwan too.


The top is dropping down there all the time.  ’Doedd o yn gythral o le yn doedd.

Wannwl oedd, oedd ‘na ddwr yn gynddeiriog yn Nant Gadwan, Lewis.

Alla i ddim deud wrthat ti, oedd dwr y môr yna, odd na le iddo ddengyd, ne mi fasa wedi boddi, yn basa.


Thanks to Mr Wil Williams, for all his help.


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