Frongoch Mine (Main Site)

Frongoch
Grid Reference: 
SN723745

Location

52° 21' 11.8332" N, 3° 52' 30.7416" W

One of the largest mines in North Ceredigion, Frongoch is a fairly famous lead and zinc mine situated near Pontrhydygroes in central Wales. Although mining at Frongoch started in the mid 1700's, largescale mining did not commence until 1834 when it was taken over by the Lisburne Mines formed by John Taylor. In 1899 a new company, the Societe Anonyme Metallurgique of Leige took over and spent a lot of money on new plant and equipment. This was driven by electricity produced by a generating station purposely built and just down the road a mile to the west.


In 1900, the mine decided to employ 80 miners from Italy. The italian miners came from Bergamo area (Northern Italy), engaged from Bernardino Nogara, an Italian engineer who previously worked in a mine in Italy the area for the same Society (based in Glasgow) that controlled Frongoch. Nogara was in Pontrhydygroes in charge for the construction of the dressing plant. He lived there for two years (1899-1900) with his wife Ester.

The story goes that there was much bickering between the Italian and Welsh miners. Allegedly there were a number of different strikes but mainly about money and that the Italian miners were given preference over the local men. In April 1900 there was said to be trouble because the Italian miners worked on Saturday afternoon and were also allowed to work underground which attracted higher wages. They apparently agreed not to work on Saturday afternoon. There were further strikes in August and November - more police were brought to the area because of all the problems. Finally in March 9th 1901, after 25 Welsh miners were laid off because of a slip in the mine, there was a dynamite explosion near the barracks where the Italian miners were living. The Italian miners had been allowed to continue working. On the following Wednesday there was reportedly an explosion near Cwmnewyddion the home of Captain Heine when several windows were smashed, nobody was hurt in either incidents. On April 13 1901 part of the lander which carried water from the leet to the top of the wheel used for pumping was said to be blown away. There are also reports of 6 Italians being attacked on the way home form a public house in Pontrhydygroes.

The neighbouring mine of Wemyss was originally independent but was taken over by Frongoch mainly so as to be able to use the Wemyss adit for drainage. This was extended into the Frongoch workings and in one place had to be re-dialled which involved blasting out the floor, a feature to be seen in other mines in the area. Although originally a lead mine, its salvation in later years lay in zinc production with over 50,000 tons of blende being produced.

Mining ceased underground in 1910.