Earliest mining activity probably corresponds with the Roman occupation, Lewis Morris in 1747 described it as “an ancient mine”, indeed in recent years stone hammers have been found on the site. As the mine shows a dearth of copper or calamine (hydrozincite) it is unlikely that the first mining corresponds with any earlier period.
Morris’s interest related to an attempt to get the mine off the ground on behalf of the Crown, he being the Crown agent for the area. In this he was successful as in Sept 1751 it was leased to a London merchant, John Vaughn.
However, it was not until 1840 that mining would be prosecuted with any vigour when The Crown Mines Company was formed from a partnership of Crockford and Salmon, William Crockford was the founder of the famous London gentleman’s club of that name, a favourite haunt of young wealthy gamblers. He himself was the son of a fishmonger but rapidly acquired great wealth as a professional gambler and moneylender.
The mine continued to be worked by a succession of companies up to the end of the 19th Century, and there was a brief resumption in 1901 when an Alfred Jenkins worked the mine with his uncle.
In 1975 the North Cardiganshire Mining Club explored the old workings, and were able at that time to enter the deep adit. This had several interesting features including a double width waterwheel pit, and the remains of a double launder system that could feed the wheel from either direction. There were also 2 18 inch cast iron sheer wheels and a cast iron pulley in the roof above.
All that was left of the waterwheel however was a mass of rotten timber in the bottom of the pit. Regardless of this, rumours persist to this day of a complete waterwheel, this is totally untrue.
At the time of writing the portal of the deep adit is about 6 feet below the bed of the stream. A few years ago I tried digging it out however left the job with the conclusion that it would require an earthmover to do this. The use of this kind of plant would of course cause unacceptable damage to the surface remains anyway.
Some friends of mine attempted a descent from the level above through an unstable ore pass, but gave up on this a suicidal.
Simon Hughes in his excellent article on the mine, British Mining No 43 gives dire warnings about the mines general instability and the fact that the deep adit is prone to flash flooding from the stream. Indeed at the time of a recent visit I found the position of the portal to be under water.
Recollections of the late Alf Jenkins include accounts of his dressing shed being washed away.
Although the mine is possibly one of the most remote sites in Wales, the forestry road system gives easy access for walkers and cyclists, the use of motor vehicles is frowned upon by the forestry and there is also a risk of finding the barrier locked up ones return to the entrance near “The Arch”