Flintshire Lead Mining



01. Home
02. General Lead Mining History
03a. Halkyn Mines: History
03b. Halkyn Mines: A few artefact photos
03c. Halkyn Mines: info downloads
03d. Halkyn Mines: Don Richardson - electrician
03e. Milwr Tunnel: Recent work
04. MAP: Veins of Halkyn Mountain
05. Blaen-y-nant vein, Eryrys
06. Westminster vein, Eryrys
07. Fron Fownog Flats, Gwernaffield
08. Pilkington's vein, Loggerheads
09. North Henblas Mine, Milwr
10. Deterioration of the mining record
11. Talargoch Mine
A. Mines lighting old & new
B. Links
C. Further reading
D. Cris's Shop Window







03d. Halkyn Mines: Don Richardson - electrician


Images below are courtesy of Don Richardson (unless otherwise stated)


Halkyn Miners in the 1930s.     Location of workings unknown.    
Anyone recognise the place or the people?
Don Richardson was electrician at Halkyn Mines from 1940 to 1987 when the mine finally closed. Don managed to save a collection of photographs and papers relating to the mine. He kindly agreed to talk about his years spent underground with the writer in 2011, and also permitted the copying of his collection. The majority of the photos are shown, with Don's consent, on this page. Some are unique images from the 1930s and may not have been seen before.........
Notes taken during a conversation with 
Don Richardson at his home in Holywell 
Sept 8th 2011



Don was aged 86 at the time of the visit. His memories were clear and he was happy talking about his years at Halkyn Mines.


It was first pointed out that “The Milwr Tunnel” book had two errors which Don wished to correct:


The book wrongly states that the round tallies were used at Olwyn Goch Shaft and the hexagonal tallies at Pen-y-Bryn. Both tallies were actually used at both shafts: Each miner had their own round tally, which they used when clocking on. The hexagonal tallies were then picked off the rack by each miner before entering the cage. These were picked in numerical order. At the end of shift, men were taken up the shaft in the same order as they went down, thus encouraging men to arrive promptly at the start of each shift.


The wooden galvanometer shown in the book was not of the type used by Halkyn Mines. Don produced his own ohmmeter as used at the mine (image below).


Halkyn Mines ohmmeter used to test shot wiring before blasting

Don began work for Halkyn Mines at the age of 15 in 1940 following his father Alberts footsteps. Albert moved from Staffordshire as an overman to work at Bettisfield Colliery and later joined Halkyn Mines. Don's father is pictured in the photo on page 20 in “The Milwr Tunnel” 2nd edition, shown below (bottom right). Other people remembered by Don in the same photo are back row, from the left: Cecil Lloyd, Mr Powell, Ben Casey.

120ft below tunnel level, prior to blasting into the lake at Powell's lode.      Photo: Glynn Morris

The large galvanised tanks above Powell's Shaft stored water used for cooling the large compressor installed at tunnel level below. When installing the pumping machinery in Powell's Lode at -120ft below tunnel level, a submarine torpedo tube was installed between the new pumps and the rock face prior to the final blasting through to the lake.


Several German Prisoners of War were employed by Halkyn Mines. Amongst these were Walter Blok of Mold and Herbert Jagusch. Herbert married a girl called Maude, also from Mold. Although now living in Germany, they return each year to visit friends and relatives and he maintains a keen interest in local mining.

Herbert Jagusch and his wife Maude pictured with one of his superb anthracite carvings.
The carving was presented to Wrexham Museum who have held it in storage ever since!
Photo: Cris Ebbs

When the Milwr Tunnel reached Cadole in 1957, driving was finally stopped. The USA had been stockpiling ore but released in onto the market causing a slump in UK prices. Halkyn Mines continued producing ore that went for smelting to Walker, Parker in Chester, but the operation was then losing money.


With ore prices being so low, the mine began quarrying a pure form of limestone. The main extraction area at Hendre known as 'The Quarry', had two main tunnels connecting the many chambers, one known as Catholics, the other as Protestants.

Limestone extraction at "The Quarry"

At Pen-y-Bryn Shaft in 1937 an experimental melting (not smelting) plant was installed. The company used the plant to separate brass from builders waste. The brass was then made into ingots of approximately 15” x 4” x 4”.

Pen-y-Bryn shaft bottom in the 1930s 

Pen-y-Bryn shaft winder 1930s

Pen-y-Bryn shaft compressor 1930s

Pen-y-Bryn shaft headframe 1930s 

Clearing snow at Pen-y-Bryn
Water for processing on the surface at Pen-y-Bryn Shaft was supplied by a pump installed in a sump close to the bottom of the shaft. Pen-y-Bryn Shaft was stripped out in 1980 when the hoist was taken by Greenfield Heritage Centre. The main drive shaft for the winder now lies at the entrance to the centre (image below).

Pen-y-Bryn main drive shaft at Greenfield

Before the mine finally closed in 1987, the workforce of just six men were given the job of filling or capping many of the open shafts at surface. A company director arrived to see a shaft being treated and was taken to Conquerer of Wales Shaft near Pantymwyn. When invited to take a closer look down the shaft he declined, commenting “It's too dangerous”. When Don Richardson was told of this, he pointed out that if it was too dangerous for the director, then it was too dangerous for the men, and requested danger money. Mine Manager Mr Bowstred agreed and a phone call later the men were offered £20 each per shaft on top of their wages.


The brick chimney next to the adit entrance of Olwyn Goch Shaft (image below) originally served a steam winder at the shaft. When the mine finally closed, Don was asked to burn many unwanted company documents at the foot of the chimney. Recognising the importance of some, he asked if he could keep a selection of photographs.

Olwyn Goch shaft chimney 

Don stated that Halkyn Mines was a very happy work place (confirming the statement by John Bellis). Although Don was an electrician, he undertook many different jobs as needs dictated.


When McNabb left the company, he left his Triumph motorbike, which was in good condition, and never returned for it.


In 1953 at Olwyn Goch Shaft a fatality occurred. A guide wire in the shaft had broken and as a result the cages were not operating. Men therefore had to climb the ladders in the shaft. One man suffered a heart attack part way to surface and died on the spot.


Together with those above, the following photographs represent most of the Richardson collection.......

Pen-y-Bryn mill 1937 

Pen-y-Bryn mill 1937 

 Pen-y-Bryn mill 1937 

 Pen-y-Bryn mill 1937  


As the Milwr Tunnel advanced southwards, it became necessary to move the surface milling complex. In 1934, operations moved from Pen-y-Bryn Shaft at Halkyn, to Olwyn Goch Shaft at Hendre. Subsequently, Cae Mawr Shaft at Pantymwyn was prepared as a main hauling shaft. But although a winding shed and headframe were completed, the project was abandoned. The following four photographs show Cae Mawr Shaft during being prepared.....

Cae Mawr Shaft, Pantymwyn 1937

Cae Mawr Shaft, Pantymwyn 1937 

Cae Mawr Shaft, Pantymwyn 1937 

Cae Mawr Shaft, Pantymwyn 1937 

Olwyn Goch shaft charging bay

Olwyn Goch shaft winding shed.  Don Richardson and Cyril Jones

Olwyn Goch shaft winding shed 

Shaft speed indicator at Olwyn Goch winding shed.
Speeds over 12 feet a second triggered a bell to ring. If the speed was not slowed down by the winch operator, power to the winch was cut off. 

Olwyn Goch shaft winding shed

Olwyn Goch shaft mill

Dismantling of Olwyn Goch winding shed and headframe 1987

Guide wires in Olwyn Goch shaft 

Shaft cage removed from Olwyn Goch shaft 1987 

 Don Richardson during the dismantling work at Olwyn Goch 1987

Top of Olwyn Goch headframe after dismantling 1987

 Sealing of of Olwyn Goch shaft 1987

 Sealing of of Olwyn Goch shaft 1987

Dismantling of Olwyn Goch winding shed 1987

Dismantling of Olwyn Goch winding shed 1987

Don's son Robin Richardson at Olwyn Goch Shaft 1987 

Olwyn Goch sub-station 1987

New diesel loco ready for service at Olwyn Goch 

Maintenance team exiting Milwr Tunnel portal.  From a newspaper article

Mine Manager Mr Bowstred and a student from Leeds examining mine plans

Mucking out in Lode 530 (Pant-y-Buarth Lode)

Foreman John Bellis
Loading a kibble in Lode 530 below tunnel level
? and Jim Hoole (on right)

The location of this photograph is uncertain, but could be the Rhosesmor Branch of the Milwr Tunnel


With sincere thanks to Don Richardson for his kindness and generosity