Gold in the Valleys

Ann Hills examines new National Trust properties in South Wales.

Thirteen lorry loads recently transported 1930s pithead gear, shaft cages, compressors, a winding engine and three cavernous corrugated iron workshops, from North to South Wales. The cargo was destined for the National Trust's Dolaucothi Gold Mines near the village of Pumsaint (which stands on a Roman fort). Today the pithead structure stands beside the metal workshops erected and stocked with equipment previously used in extracting lead from Olwyn Goch near Mold, owned by Courtaulds. Courtaulds, having no use for redundant gear, offered it to the Gold Mines: the Trust accepted the gift and raised £125,000 for transportation and resiting.

Dolauchothi closed in 1938, when the last gold ore extracted had to be processed on the Pacific coast of the USA because no firm in Europe could smelt it. The 1930s miners found gold following a 2,000 year old tradition. The Romans, using opencast pits, were said to have made a small fortune here using slave labour, as is explanined in a video shown in the visitor centre.

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