Historic Landscape Characterisation

Mawddach - Area 15 Wooded hill slopes, above Arthog (PRN 18345)



Historic background

Two slate quarries were opened up in Panteinon Valley in the 19th century. Henddol was started in the early 1860s, was in production by 1865 but ceased production in 1871 following a rockfall. Goleuwern quarry had been opened in 1867, and when Henddol was re-opened in 1892 the two traded together as Cambrian Estates Ltd, finally closing in 1920 (Richards, 1991). Another quarry, Bryngwyn had an even shorter and more erratic life. Both quarries shared joint facilities (mill, smithy etc.) relying on horse and carriage transport for moving the slate out. Further east, above Arthog, Ty'n y Coed quarry was opened in the mid 1860s, and its material was also taken by tramway across the morfa to a small jetty on the estuary below and thence to Barmouth. The Barmouth ferry, which crossed from Penrhyn point on Morfa Mawddach (area10), transported the slate across the estuary to Barmouth (area 01), whence it was shipped out, along with lead, silver, copper and manganese from Cyfannedd fawr (the remains of the mines and adits, which were initially opened in 1827 but mainly worked during the period 1851-63, lie to the north of the eponymous farm at the top of this area). The silver mine here, the only one in the district, was producing approximately 40oz of silver from a ton of ore at its height. In 1748, Cyfannedd-fawr was occupied by Morus Jones, a well-known poet and winner of many bardic chairs.

Key historic landscape characteristics

17th century farmhouses, mining remains, woodlands

At the top of the area is The Blue Lake’, a 40ft-deep quarry pit which was deliberately filled with water in 1901 by McDougall's engineer (see area 11) to act as a reservoir in a scheme to provide Fairbourne with electric lighting. Pipes were laid down to the village, but nothing came of the idea.

Arthog community contains a number of listed buildings which testify to the importance of the area over the last three hundred years or so. Arthog Hall is a country house built in a picturesque, castellated style in 1833 for Reginald Fourden, a Lancashire cotton-mill owner (on the site of the medieval Pwll-arthog) while the cottage and home farm nearby (both also grade II), has a range of agricultural outbuildings including a cart house, stable range and hay barn. The Old Lodge (built in 1835 to serve the hall) is also listed. Garth y Fog farmhouse (grade II*) is a small, two-storey, rubble-built vernacular farmhouse dated 1796, while Hen-ddol farmhouse (a late 17th/early 18th century farmhouse near the quarry) was the site of a notorious siege in 1780 when bailiffs went to arrest the owner for smuggling (it also has an interesting range of 19th century outbuildings). Adding to the 19th century stock of buildings along the estuary is Ty'n-y-coed, a small Victorian country house built in eclectic Gothic style in the 1860s by David Davies who had recently bought the estate and founded the eponymous quarry.

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