The Dinas Trial Mine

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After weeks, if not months, of abstinence, I finally felt an urge to go exploring with my camera. My lack of enthusiasm about pursuing my photography is more about doing other things than lack of interest. Over the past few months I have been away from WordPress also, whilst my “writing head” had a rest I’ve been busy creating a new web-site focussing on the brickworks of South Wales, this is not complete but you can have a preview at www.opobs.org.uk. But I digress, as part of the research process for this new web-site I have been studying the notes and photographs I took twenty or more years ago and decided that some of the locations needed a revisit to capture them in their current condition.

Although not a brickworks, one of the sites I’ve been meaning to revisit is a silica working up the Neath Valley. Known as the Dinas trial mine the working is located at Pwll-du-yr-byrddin on the River Neath about a mile up the valley from Pont Nedd Fechan. This trial working goes into the hillside for about 100 metres before it appears to come to an end, but as it is flooded it is impossible for me to determine whether there are any passages at the end of the visible working. I visited the mine in the early 1990s and photographed what I could but my pictures were of indifferent quality so decided to have another go at capturing the interior. Follow this link to see the photographs I took in 1992.

Pwll-du-yr-byrddin Trial Silica Mine

The first photograph was taken at the entrance to the working, one can see there is a lot of water inside but with appropriate footwear one can venture a short distance, probably about 30 metres or so without getting a bootful. The second photograph is taken inside the mine as far as I dared go, actually, I think I could venture further, but as I was on my own decided discretion was the better part of valour and I tempered my enthusiasm by remaining in close proximity to the entrance. Illumination is by natural light behind me and a hand-held flashgun fired randomly at the darker areas.

Pwll-du-yr-byrddin Trial Silica Mine

This silica mine never worked commercially, at least not for long if it did. Silica would have been taken along a tramway running parallel to the river in the downstream direction to the existing crushing plant at Cwm Gored Quarry about a quarter of a mile away, the extant remains of which can still be seen. At Cwm Gored the tramway crossed the river, the abutments of the bridge are still there, and then followed the river down to Pont-Nedd-Fechan, the trackbed is now the popular footpath to Sgwd Gwladys waterfall and many stone sleeper blocks can be found along its route. The tramway turned right at the Angel Inn (which is shown on the 1884 OS map) and followed the line of the current road to Glyn Neath where it terminated at the works of the Abernant Dinas Silica Brick & Cement Co. which was adjacent to the terminus of the Neath Canal.

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