09 September 2011

Clywedog Trail, Wrexham

Between Minera (YMGW passim) and King's Mill lies the Clywedog Trail, along which are numerous remains of mines, mills, and ironworks. Deep Day Level drained the Minera lead mines into the River Clywedog. Near to the outlet is Nant Mill, originally a fulling, and later a corn, mill.

The stretch from Nant Mill to Bersham runs through Plas Power Woods, largely oak and beech. Big Wood Weir (top) was constructed in the mid-18th century to feed water, via a leat, to a nearby coal mine. Another weir, Caeau, supplied Bersham Ironworks, next stop on the trail.

The works was founded in 1718 by Charles Lloyd, and was the first in Wales to use a coke-fueled blast furnace. Under John 'Iron Mad' Wilkinson it was one of the most important in Europe. In 1774 Wilkinson patented a means to bore cannon from the solid, and this technology was used later to accurately bore cylinders. Many of the cylinders used in James Watt's steam engines were made at Bersham.

Wilkinson's nearby East Works was used for rolling and boring, later as a paper mill, and later still as a school. It now operates as a small museum, outside which are a number of mining and iron-making artefacts, viewed (above) through one of the ventilation holes in a mine's double-decker man rider.

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