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Mine Exploration Forum

Author Gwynedd Archives
Karl Marx

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Posted: 05/07/2018 11:28:46
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I'd like to survey some experience us mining folk have had with the Caernarfon Record Office.

I've been fiddling around in a number of the Welsh local records offices and as you would expect, they've almost all been excellent. What stands out like a paedo at a pool party is the Gwynedd services; chiefly their photography policy. THEY HAVE NONE

I have not come across this anywhere else I've been in the county or even the country at large with regards to council R/Os whom have custody of for example, Mining Records Office plans. Upon enquiring why there wasn't information relating to personal document copying I was told:
"Unfortunately we do not allow the use of digital cameras in the search room."
This is despite the fact that all other local records offices in the country that I know do not share this policy.

A4 scanning is offered at 30p a sheet. Seeing as I'm a typical, dirty hole-goer however, I am in terested in mine plans which are much larger. I asked what options I have given this:
"We do have an A2 flatbed scanner but this is the maximum size available. Digital scans are available at £11 each."

£11 per scan???

My reply stated: "Is there a more economical means of document copying for researchers of mining history? If personal photography is prohibited and scanning is £11 per scan, how would you recommend I record source material?
Obviously, it is easy enough to record notes for letters or written documents during a visit, but this means would not be applicable to mine plans. My usual approach with R/Os which are custodians of plans or maps have been to purchase a day or week photographic pass and 'snap away': I get the impression this approach is not applicable in the Caernarfon Record Office."

The gloriously developed and courteous response to my enquiry stated:
"Unfortunately we do not operate a photographic pass system. Photocopies of any relevant parts of maps and plans are available on the day at 30 pence a sheet."

Is this not damaging to scan large scale maps, some 200yrs old on an a4 flatbed scanner?? They do not mind plans being traced either, which in comparison to photography is immensely damaging to delicate documents. Bearing in mind I firstly made sure to mention it's a 300mile trip each time I want to pop in, so it's essential I have good copies of the source material.

Needless to say I haven't bothered visiting.

Many private archives have more 'commercial' style to document copying, which I disagree with but is well within their rights as physical owners of records. Local records offices are operated on council expense. They are typically custodians of documents and for these reasons tend to abide by the suggested code of the National archives or Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals under which document copying is charged on a "cost recovery basis".

Has anyone had any experience with the Gwynedd archives on their travels? Any suggestions on how to go about recording the musty old stuff?

KM
IP: 173.239.232.119
JohnnearCfon

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Joined: 22/12/2005
Location: Sir Caernarfon

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Posted: 05/07/2018 13:40:35
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The Dolgellau office have a beautiful coloured mine plan of Maen Offeren Slate Quarry it is a real work of art (and a lot more understandable than some). It is very large. They offered to PHOTOGRAPH it for me. At the time it was going to cost £8 per photo. I dread to think how much that would have added up to.

One thing that might be useful to you (but not in the case I mentioned) is that the Coal Authority did borrow a few of their mine plans and scan them in to their system.

I share your frustration with GA service.
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ChrisJC

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Posted: 05/07/2018 19:18:25
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For the record, I have been getting Inclosure Maps from the National Archives at Kew, for £38.75 a sheet. That is a photograph shipped as a TIFF file.

Chris.
IP: 94.126.234.198
Karl Marx

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Posted: 05/07/2018 20:20:28
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The difference with the NA is that you are permitted to photograph these things yourself.

Large scale scanning is a premium service. If that's on offer, then great, but when that's what you are compelled to do, that's appalling for a council R/O.
IP: 173.239.232.165
Tamarmole

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Posted: 05/07/2018 22:19:49
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Dealing with archives and libraries is getting increasingly difficult (for difficult read expensive). As an author I find reproduction fees for images has, in some cases, become prohibitive. For example I recently wanted to use four 18th century images in a paper, the archive who held the collection wanted a couple of hundred quid in reproduction fees. Given that I am not making anything on the paper, in fact it has probably cost me a few hundred quid in visits to archives etc I cannot justify the expense. Consequently my paper is the poorer for their omission and the images will continue to lie unseen in the depths of a library.

Whilst I have no real objection to paying a reasonable fee I do get f****d off when scholarship and the dissemination of knowledge suffers as a consequence of excessive costs.

The are some notable exceptions, Birmingham Library service (for example) allowed me to reproduce a number of Boulton & Watt drawings in my engines book at no cost. Likewise Ironbridge Museum did not charge me to use one of their images. Result a lot of people get access to historically important and rare images - surely this is the whole point of an archive.

IP: 86.134.159.71
grahami

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Joined: 29/01/2007
Location: Telford, Shropshire

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Posted: 05/07/2018 23:36:41
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This is a problem of very long standing, 30 years ago I seriously suggested to them after frustrating couple of days going through Oakley plans one by one, that it would be a lot easier and less damaging if they photographed their large plans etc, and made available a catalogue of the prints so researchers could have a good idea which they actually needed to see in the flesh. It would have avoided the tedious business of requesting a plan, waiting while the staff extricated it, unrolling it (carefully) only to take one 10 second glance at it and then roll it up and on to the next. In these days of digital photography, relatively low Res images could be created very easily and made available to view. However it would all take time a d personnel, both of which are increasingly in short supply. Dolgellau record office is only open on Monday and Tuesday with caernarfon Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Grahami


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The map is the territory - especially in chain scale.
IP: 78.150.197.147
grahami

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Posted: 05/07/2018 23:40:10
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I should say that in all this time the various archives staff I have dealt with have been unfailingly helpful, working with rules not of their making.
Grahami


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Karl Marx

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Posted: 07/07/2018 11:08:09
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Grahami: have you had any success copying source material for your research? What has been your approach for mine plans?
IP: 173.239.232.135
grahami

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Posted: 08/07/2018 11:04:54
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I was fortunate that when I began back in '75, Will Roberts the proprietor of Gloddfa Ganol was interested in what I could make of the old plans (mainly with a view to seeing what he could extract both for his architectural work and for the then ffestiniog Slate Co. to produce roofing slates from). Thus I had a free hand to copy as best i could the material he had - some I traced laboriously (but enjoyably at my leisure on holidays in Blaenau) and also photographed in B&W generally successfully and some in colour (less so - too grainy). At DRO I had to make do with (as I mentioned) tediously finding which plans showed things of interest and then tracing them hastily in pencil on huge sheets of tracing paper. Inking and re-drawing them later at home, and then having them scanned by people such as prontaprint. I was fortunate in being put in contact with the company which had been the last official surveyors to the old Oakeley Co. and spent a fascinating day chatting to one of the then directors who had been responsible for surveying at Oakeley - he very kindly ran off copies of the last plans from their masters on the company plan printing machine. I had a similar experience years later with his successor with some Votty & Bowydd plans. All these kind people have sadly long since passed away. I obtained some copies of plans originally from the department of closed mines, and then from the Coal Authority to whom they had passed them on (Cwmorthin and Votty and Bowydd in this case). There are plans of Rhosydd and Diffwys in the National Library of Wales for example (there are probably others as well) which require you to either trace or photograph(with a permit) but as is usually the case you cannot use a copying stand or flash. This is ok for documents but a pain with plans as it is extremely difficult to stitch the results back together!
Then of course there are the individuals and companies who have kindly assisted me in my researches into their own locations or have shared their own work - for which I am extremely grateful.
So a real mixed bag - as you might expect.

Grahami


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The map is the territory - especially in chain scale.
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RAMPAGE

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Posted: 26/12/2018 22:07:34
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grahami wrote:

Will Roberts the proprietor of Gloddfa Ganol


You know his son Sion? I presume you do! He's a good mate of mine.

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Beneath my steely exterior beats the heart of a dashing hero
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royfellows

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Posted: 27/12/2018 18:40:14
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Karl Marx wrote:


Has anyone had any experience with the Gwynedd archives on their travels? Any suggestions on how to go about recording the musty old stuff?

KM


Stealth camera?

--

I have been to Waterfall Stope, wow!
IP: 88.106.230.184
Pete Monkhouse

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Posted: 28/12/2018 12:52:29
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£30 - worth a punt....

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mofek-1920x1080P-Camcorder-Recording-Function/dp/B01N6HEDRJ/ref=pd_sbs_60_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B01N6HEDRJ&pd_rd_r=16162a64-0a9f-11e9-ab4f-0333a0e7098d&pd_rd_w=W8f9G&pd_rd_wg=JwTQP&pf_rd_p=18edf98b-139a-41ee-bb40-d725dd59d1d3&pf_rd_r=S94MXXMMFDV0WTZNZG45&psc=1&refRID=S94MXXMMFDV0WTZNZG45
IP: 195.171.160.215
Karl Marx

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Posted: 28/12/2018 14:15:41
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I ought to give a bit of an update.

Found myself in Carnafon asda lately and popped over the harbour front to hit up the old stuff. Most R/Os are in some drab council plot but Gwynedd looks over the Menai flats, which is epic. Probably a re-purposed harbour masters crack house.

The staff were really helpful and hospitable for an Blink english speaker like myself.

The main collections of theirs as it relates to industrial history are the estate collections. You bunch of mining perverts will blush given the chance to thumb through the Vaynol indexes. Most of the estate business recorded is not of relevance, but a lot of early history of Copper mining in the Llanberis area is well recorded in letters and deeds.

I transcribed one of the letters that relates to Llanberis Cu Mine and have uploaded it to the mine's page. Matey was either high or dyslexic so I've translated it into something that doesn't feel like an LSD trip in a cold bath.

GRO also has subject index cards to dribble over. This is a very rewarding way of looking like you're doing groundbreaking research without risking pit stains. Under "MINING" they have independent entries for each metal type &c.

They also have a lot of books. A few get chucked in the stove every now and then to save on heating costs.

Most of the mine plans they have are for the Benallt area, some for Llanegan way and then Snowdon. And that's it

I hit up matey for a quick chat on an ebb and apparently the "MRO" mine plans only get requested on average once every 5yrs! Clearly the hot collared mining enthusiasts in Gwynedd are an exclusive bunch. This is no wonder though as - and on the little red book - I swear the only one worth your time seeing is the Snowdon c1870 section.
Most of the plans they originally held (eg: Parys Mountain, Orme and Betws y coed stuff) were repatriated back to their county R/Os when the Gwynedd boundaries were redrawn.

This still leaves the copying-c*ntery. I got the chance to dig down into the specifics of wazzon with their policy, which I am sad to say is just a "NO".

Can I pleas...
No.

What if...
No.

I have written permission from the estate...
No.

I will sell you my wife and two camels
Hmm... No.

There are no means of copying maps in Gwynedd R/O bar tracing. For some reason, the coal board has loaned fiche slides of most of their plans, which they can digitise for you but it costs £11.

The situation is one I've seen before in archives where you have a lot of semi-redundant undergrad part time staff whose strings are pulled by a three headed librarian matriarch. If you want to take pictures, it's basically their living room and how many strangers get to take pictures of your living room? The archive and the archivist are indistinct entities at GRO.

Letters can be photocopied for 30p each.

All in all I would recommend anyone who gets a mine exploring hard on over the old stuff to give it a go. If you're lucky you'll catch a visual buffet of young-mums at the asda traffic lights afterwards to add some Weinstein to your archive experience! Wink
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Roger the Cat

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Posted: 28/12/2018 15:31:35
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Naive question. Surely these archives have at some point been microfiched or scanned for security/integrity purposes? Maybe not. When I was doing work for a thesis many moons ago it was like getting blood out of a stone, although individual librarians and archivists were personally very helpful. At least photocopiers had been invented then! Is this a phobic reaction to potential copyright infringement? IP: 80.42.148.178
sinker

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Posted: 28/12/2018 16:06:48
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Karl Marx wrote:

I ought to give a bit of an update.

All in all I would recommend anyone who gets a mine exploring hard on over the old stuff to give it a go. If you're lucky you'll catch a visual buffet of young-mums at the asda traffic lights afterwards to add some Weinstein to your archive experience! Wink




Kaernarfon eh Komrade? Thumb Up

It has everything the modern mine explorer could wish for. Who'd have thunk it Laugh

--

Ah, well, now, you see.... IP: 81.135.133.71
John Lawson

Joined: 09/12/2010
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Posted: 28/12/2018 20:52:37
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Hi Guys,
Never visited this particular CRO, but I can speak, from experience of using other CRO’s.
Fundamentally, we are always at the back of the queue when it comes to being treated by the officials in these places!
The main raisin d’etre is it seems to me looking after, family trees and the pursuit of them.
They do not seem to have access to these very big photocopiers or any way of producing them.
The only exception I found was in the MRO and the mine’s archives of the Geological survey. Certainly some CRO’s have photocopied plans for me in, usually A3 sheets and then you have to trace these out and have this tracing run through a die-line, machine or something similar.
The results if you last out can be fairly rewarding.
At least that it was I have learnt over the last 30 years or so.
IP: 86.149.162.99
John Lawson

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Posted: 28/12/2018 20:52:38
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Hi Guys,
Never visited this particular CRO, but I can speak, from experience of using other CRO’s.
Fundamentally, we are always at the back of the queue when it comes to being treated by the officials in these places!
The main raisin d’etre is it seems to me looking after, family trees and the pursuit of them.
They do not seem to have access to these very big photocopiers or any way of producing them.
The only exception I found was in the MRO and the mine’s archives of the Geological survey. Certainly some CRO’s have photocopied plans for me in, usually A3 sheets and then you have to trace these out and have this tracing run through a die-line, machine or something similar.
The results if you last out can be fairly rewarding.
At least that it was I have learnt over the last 30 years or so.
IP: 86.149.162.99
JMB

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Posted: 29/12/2018 00:24:29
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I have been to Gwynedd Archives quite a few times for family history work. I had some invoices from Tyn yr Weirglodd quarry photocopied (colour copier) because they had my Great Grandfather's name on as manager.

Just checked and they do not allow the use of any sort of camera, pity because Powys let you use a camera though you have to pay for a licence (I think that is hat they call it).

The staff have always been very helpful when I have been there, some might be put off because they will be talking Welsh amongst themselves but that is to be expected.

I would suggest EMailing or phoning them and sure they will answer any questions.

Not sure what you want to look up but have a search of the university catalogue in case they have anything. Isn't there also a slate museum who might have an archive.

Not directly relevant but might be of interest. We had a talk about this at the HAF in October. Originally done by a society in Dumfries, NOSAS scanned the Lovate Estate 18th Century maps and they are now online at the NLS.

http://www.nosas.co.uk/lovatestatemaparchive.asp

Just shows what can be done.



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