Monday, 27 June 2011

Let it Be...

Wandering about over old industrial sites is always fascinating, trying to piece together the story of what went on and why. Often, some of the clues are in the shape of rusty old relics, fast turning into iron oxide as they lie undisturbed for decades. The more decayed they are, the better I like it. Sometimes all that remains is a heap of iron oxide, barely visible in the grass...a scenario doubtless familiar to anyone who has owned an Alfa Sud, or a Land Rover without a galvo chassis...

We always try to leave as little disturbance as possible, so that others can enjoy the relics, too. That wasn't the case with the old winding house above, at Cwt-y-Bugail. It once housed the remains of a very old Aveling Traction engine. It was very far gone indeed, the platework filigreed by rust to wafer thickess.
That didn't stop a group of people "rescuing" it a few years ago, to form part of a reconstruction of what an early Aveling might have looked like. I wouldn't have had a problem if they had come up and measured it, made drawings, photographed it and generally showed a bit of respect for the site. Instead, they dragged it clumsily away down the hill, damaging it and the drumhouse in the process.

No, I like my relics to be feral ones, so I've put together a little collection of rusty bits that I've photographed over the years of wandering about.

This Fordson tractor main casting has been lying in the North Twll at Cwt-y-Bugail since the sixties. How it got in there is still a mystery. It's wheels lie in the remains of chamber C4, another riddle that I don't expect will ever be solved. There was a blondin ropeway in use at around the time this tractor was brought in...perhaps it came in that way? We'll never know.
Next is something I'm a little more sure about. These are the remains of an old portable steam engine, used to power the old Gatty's mill at Blaen-y-Cwm and described in a report by E.P. Jones in 1889 as "A rotten portable engine". It's a bit more rotten now.

Then there are the unexpected finds, like this Chaff cutting machine found in a roofless barn near the Catherine and Jane Consols mine:

 It dated from the 1870's, although was probably in use until the 1960's. Agricultural machinery like this was built to last. I wonder how the frame received that break- from a roof timber falling, perhaps?

 Oops! Not sure what make this car was (above), lying deep in a filled shaft at Cwmystwyth.

A very vintage truck engine near the incline top at Wrysgan. I think it's a bit too big to be  the manager's Lea Francis car engine that was, at one time, used to power the mill and incline...

Or how about the remains of an old stove, used to heat and provide tea in the mine office at Rhiwbach? Another survivor is this old line-shafting wheel from the floor 3 mill at Rhosydd, which probably dates from the 1850's:

This wheel languishes deep underground somewhere in a slate mine near Blaenau Ffestiniog:

Lastly, the remains of an old pressure vessel, used as a receiver for compressed air to power the drills at a quarry. The rust has eaten into this over the years, reducing the once-round rivets to interesting triangular shapes.

A photo of a moth on the air receiver. A common Swift moth. It's spotted a place to rest and be cleverly camouflaged.

There are plenty more rusty reminders, mouldering magnificently in the Welsh landscape. Let's just hope that all these artefacts can be left alone, to weather out their last days...rusting in peace.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful decadence. There is definitely a certain allure to such artifacts, hinting as they do to their past prime and all the while preserving a link between their surroundings and the activities that once occurred there.

Totally agree with your sentiments expressed here.

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks very much, Graham. Yes, it's that link that I value most, and why I was so upset with the Aveling lot.

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