Cwm Pennant/Cwmystradllyn, North Wales

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This is a bit of an archive report. This collection of photos were taken through the course of the 1980's and 1990's around Criccieth on the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales. It was at a time when urbexing probably didn't exist as a term. Back then it was just a fascination with derelict buildings. There aren't enough pictures of one particular place for individual reports so here is a combined report for a number of sites. That said I've previously done a report for the one place where I did have a number of pictures of (Brykir Hall and folly) which you can find here:

The majority of these pictures were taken in Cwm Pennant and Cwmystradllyn, two idyllic mountain valleys with fast running streams just north of Criccieth itself. Apologies for the lack of quality - these are taken on 35mm film (colour and black and white) and then the negatives scanned. Back then film was precious and processing expensive so you tended to take far fewer shots. Also film wasn't as versatile in low light hence the lack of internal shots. Anyhow, hope you still find this report interesting.

Pont y Pandy (Ynysypandy) Slate Mill, Cwmystradllyn
Completed in 1857, the mill, owned by the ‘Bangor and Portmadoc Slate and Slab Company’, was built to process slate slabs from the unsuccessful and short-lived (just eight years) Gorseddau Quarry nearby. The slate mill was sited here due to lack of a suitable water supply at the quarry itself. It was powered by an 8m diameter waterwheel and was served by two tramways: one bringing slate from the quarry, the other taking the finished product to the port at Porthmadog. The company went out of business in 1871.

B+W archive 280 by HughieDW, on Flickr

B+W archive 086 by HughieDW, on Flickr

B+W archive 283 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The Prince of Wales quarry, Cwm Pennant.
The quarry was also a fairly short-lived operation that closed in the late 19th century. It was financially disastrous for the owners. It had its own railway to Porthmadog that was also extended to the end of the valley to service a copper mine there. The mine was also unprofitable producing around 34 tons of ore in its short life - less than the amount of rock excavated in laying the rail trackbed from the quarry to the mine.

Below is a picture of the ruins of the mill at the quarry. This only dealt with slate slabs. All roofing slates were cut and dressed on the working levels. It was powered by a water wheel.

Wales 52 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The following shots are of the ruins of the manager's house. Note the slate quarry on the adjacent hill.

Wales 42 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Wales 46 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Wales 35 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Wales 56 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Two interior shots of the manager's house showing the sad remnants of the fireplace and cooking range:

Wales 48 by HughieDW, on Flickr

B+W archive 012 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Abandoned car, Cwmystradllyn:

Wales 43 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Derelict house-stead, Cwmystradllyn:

B+W archive 088 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Inside a ruined farmhouse, Cwm Pennant:

Wales 44 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Abandoned farm house, Cwnystradllyn:

B+W archive 098 by HughieDW, on Flickr

B+W archive 079 by HughieDW, on Flickr

..and slightly further on an abandoned barn:

Wales 55 by HughieDW, on Flickr

...and yet another abandoned farm house:

B+W archive 089 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Abandoned shop, town centre, Caernarfon.

Wales 57 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Abandoned church, Anglesey:

B+W archive 276 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Cwmystwyth Lead Mines, Ceredigion.
Considered by some to be an eyesore and a reminder of the damage and the danger on landscape and man. The large tin finishing mill used to stand, red and rusting, set dramatically against the grey heaps and yellowing hillsides before it was dismantled, each piece numbered for reconstruction. Many other buildings scattered the valley, all were in a perilous state back in 1989 when I visited. Twenty-five years later some have all but vanished.

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.

B+W archive 015 by HughieDW, on Flickr

B+W archive 010 by HughieDW, on Flickr

15746069108_92a2685471_b.jpgWales 60 by HughieDW, on Flickr

15311278504_b3d58701b6_b.jpgWales 59 by HughieDW, on Flickr

15933506425_984ac43bff_b.jpgWales 58 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Plas Gwynfryn, at Llanystumdwy, near Criccieth
The house, built with brick but with a stone outer was constructed by Hugh John Ellis Nanney and completed in 1876. It remained a family home until 1928. During this time it was the home of Conservative MP Hugh Ellis-Nanney. After it became a retirement home for the clergy, a hospital and then a hotel. It burnt down during 1982 and has remained that way since. I was in Criccieth the Summer after it burnt down so these two pictures were taken shortly after the fire. In 2011, the house was one of nine historic Welsh buildings whose heritage campaign group Save Britain's Heritage said were at risk of being lost. Things took a further turn for the worst in April 2014 when a further fire broke out.

Wales 37 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Wales 51 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And finally...

Gwylfa Hiraethog, Denbighshire
Abandoned in the 1950’s, isolated high on Denbigh Moors, the ex-hunting lodge can be spotted whilst driving past the Sportmans’ Arms Inn between Bylchau and Pentrefoelas. Once said to have been the highest inhabited house in Wales, former war Prime Minister Lloyd George addressed a large crowd here from the balcony just after it was built in 1908. The lodge replaced an earlier wooden chalet that had been imported in prefabricated sections from Norway in the early 1890s. Before it descended into rack and ruin it ooked like this:

The first of my three pictures (the colour one) was taken in 1991.The two black and white pictures date from around 1999. The deterioration is quite dramatic. Now today it is nothing more than a pile of rubble.

Wales 38 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Wales 45 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Wales 41 by HughieDW, on Flickr

OK, that's all. Thanks for looking!
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Fantastic photos and very informative. Keep up the good work


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Greater Unthank
Lots of intersting information backed up with wonderful atmospheric pictures. Very enjoyable.


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Cheers for the kind words folks. Really enjoyed going back through my old negs and scanning them. Brought back some happy memories wandering through the Welsh Valleys. Really beautiful neck of the woods round Criccieth.