Click image to enlarge
Cross-section of the oldest and shallowest workings on the Lower Flat.
Redrawn from original document Ref: D/HM/273 (courtesy of Flintshire
Fron Fownog Flats
An interesting mine where lead was found in 'flats', not veins. Called
by local miners flats or pipes, the ore was deposited in gently dipping
horizontal beds rather than the more common near-vertical veins
so typical of the area. Miners have described the ore as occurring
in natural fissures or tubes in the rock. There are several examples of
similar flat workings, most commonly occurring at the eastern boundary
of the carboniferous limestone, where limestones dips below the
overlying sandstones. “The
pipes were full of sand in which the ore lay as a bed” (Smith
1921). There were two parallel flats at Fron Fownog, one above the
other, lying 25 yards apart.
Although all shafts are now filled, the mine had an incline entrance at
its western end where the flats outcropped along the surface. At a later
period, Downhill Quarry removed the actual entrance. The continuation of
this incline therefore lies somewhere in the floor of the quarry,
although attempts to excavate a way into the incline in the 1980s was
Above: Halkyn District United Mines in 1987 plotted some of the
eastern underground workings of Fron Fownog flats. Other workings are
also shown on this 25" OS sheet.
is not known when mining was first carried out at Fron Fownog, although it
was certainly being worked throughout most of the 19th century.
Official output figures were only kept from around 1845, after which the
highest recorded output occurred in 1848 when the mine produced 1695 tons.
The last production figures are for the year 1880 when 117 tons of lead
ore were produced.
earliest workings were carried out on the lower flat which outcropped at
surface around SJ208637. Later mining was carried out by the Great Fron
Fownog Company (1869-1875) under their agent Wm. Wasley, and by United
Mines (1876-1878). Both companies worked the upper flat which occupied the
area to the east where this flat was found at a depth of 160 yards in
Engine Shaft. Unlike most workings of the Mold - Rydymyn area, Fron Fownog
mine is physically unconnected with any neighbouring workings.
set of four detailed plans exist (refs D/HM/271-4 Flintshire Record
Office) showing the workings to be interesting and more extensive than the
survey above suggests. The shallower, older workings on the lower flat
occupied a two dimensional area that can be imagined as a table-top, but
with a slope to the east of about 1 in 4. The western end of the flat was
worked from the surface where it once outcropped. Here two inclines were
driven in from the surface (see survey above). The mine was worked from
nine main shafts and drained by an adit at approximately SJ218642.
Main shafts and approximate depths from west to east:
Taylors (or Whim); 150ft
Fownog East; 200ft
Reeds (westerly of two); 240ft
Reeds (easterly of two); 300ft
workings have not been entered since closure around 1880. All main shafts
appear to have been filled. The two inclines provide the best option to
gain entry to this mine, although some work with a Hymac excavator was
done here in the 1980s, without success. The inclines are shown on a mine section only
(not plan), hence pin-pointing the location of the entrances is difficult.
This is complicated further as a surface quarry (Downhill Quarry) now
occupies the area where the incline entrances would have been. If all
loose material were completely excavated from the quarry, it is likely
that the ‘South Inclined Plane’ would be visible at a depth of about 40
feet below the original surface level (i.e. in the wall or floor of the
adit at SJ218642 was driven south-west to drain the workings. It passed
through Engine Shaft and ended at Inclined Shaft where water rose from
flooded workings below. Therefore, even if the blocked entrance could be
excavated, a dry connection to the shallower workings would be unlikely.
The shallower workings to the south-west may possibility be dry as plans
show a ‘swallow’ near Reed’s (west) Shaft.
Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust describe the workings as:
Historic Environment Record as number 103219, grid reference SJ21556385
area of at least five recognisable old shafts and associated spoil, one a
possible horse whim at SJ21396379, are located in the area of Fron-hyfryd
Farm. There is certain real evidence of the engine shaft which apparently
worked the mine at SJ21506380. A second area of five large shafts and
associated mounds are located at SJ21006370 to the east of Downhill Quarry
and south of Pant-glas. Shafts remain at SJ20906390, SJ21056375 (possibly
Taylor's Shaft), SJ21056365, SJ21256360 and SJ21306370. An incline shaft
ran from SJ20806375
Barton (1989) and Bayles (1969) record an 85" engine being ordered in
November 1870 for the Great Fron Fawnog Mine from the Perran Foundry. A
60" engine was built for the site by Hawarden foundry together with a 14"
twin cylinder winder and capstan, and an 18" example. A possible horse
whim circle is visible at SJ21396379.