Historic Landscape Characterisation

Vale of Ffestiniog - Area 33 Llidiart Yspytty

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, 100017916, 2005

Historic background

This is a 'linking', transport corridor lying between the sheer cliffs above Tremadoc and the drained marshes of Traeth Mawr, and the settlements of Tremadoc and Penmorfa. The land was part of Madocks' Tremadoc estate at the end of the eighteenth century, and at the same time that he drained the Traeth and built the town of Tremadoc, he also developed the area's mineral and transport facilities. In 1807 a new road was built to connect Tremadoc (the name Dublin Street speaks volumes) with Cricieth and Pwllheli, which Madocks hoped would become part of a trunk road between London and Porth Dinllaen, and in 1810 the Caernarvonshire Turnpike Trust took over the old route from Llidiart Yspytty to Caernarfon. These two roads joined at Llidiart Yspytty, and in 1845 the Caernarfon road was rebuilt on its present alignment.

Around the same time, the mining of ironstone was developed here. The first mine may have been worked from 1754, and was certainly being exploited by 1770: the Porthmadog harbour dues confirm that 3,301 tons of ironstone was shipped out between March 1839 and December 1840, the great majority of which must have been mined at Llidiart Yspytty. 'Smelting furnaces' were built, probably in 1845, near the principal adit. In 1848-1850 between 10,000 and 15,000 tons were shipped, suggesting that the underground workings were very extensive, although it is interesting that no tips of any size survive in the immediate vicinity of the mine (it is possible that waste was carted away by road for other uses). The mine closed down in 1851.

The railway serving the mine was constructed in 1840-1841, although the track arrangements were changed more than once in the course of its history. It was re-aligned in 1848, and completely re-built in 1855-7 when it was extended to give access to Gorseddau slate quarry: the mine site thereafter continued to have an industrial function as a 'station' and a slate yard for the Gorseddau tramway. However, by the 1860s Gorseddau quarry had also closed, and the railway through Llidiart Yspytty was adapted in 1872-5 in an attempt to tap the supposed mineral wealth of Cwm Pennant. However, it was hardly used and was dismantled before the end of the nineteenth century.


Key historic landscape characteristics

Ironstone mine, railway and road routes

Remains of the principal mine adit can be seen, still partially open, as well as the site of the kilns built in 1845 to the south-west. Several presumed other blocked adits are also visible, as are areas of industrial acitivity. Parts of the line of the 1848 railway, the 1855 Gorseddau tramway and the Turnpike Trust road are clearly visible. The main road from Caernarfon to Tremadog is still in use as such.


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