Roads and Carting

The transport of material around the mountain and from the mines to the port was an important consideration. Once ore had been dug out on the mountain it had to be transported to the copper ladies for dressing. The only way for this to be achieved was by horse and cart. Even today the mountain is crossed with a number of cart tracks that were made for this purpose.:-

As production increased farmers began to offer the use of their carts to transport the material. This however lead to a number of problems. Sometimes the cart and horses were in poor condition and frequent delays and breakdowns were encountered. At certain times of the year the farmer would withdraw their carts so that they could use them on the farm. As the mines got larger the farmers carts were also used to carry coal, wood and all the other goods that the mines needed. By 1772 around 40 local farmers were involved with the carting business. With so many farmers competing for work prices were cheap and the total cost for all cartage in the last quarter of 1771 was just over £35.

After calcining the ore had to be taken down the Amlwch Port for smelting. When Roe and Co started mining in 1764 the ore was carried from the mountain in bags by workers who earned 3 d for every bag delivered to the port. In 1772 workers using barrows were paid 2d a barrow load. Those taking larger quantities in carts were paid between 2/6d and 3/1d per ton.

In 1811 when the mines were taken over by Treweek one local farmer, William Hughes of Madyn Dysw made an offer to the Mona mine owners. In return for a monopoly on the carting business he would agree to supply sufficient good quality carts throughout the year and so provide a guaranteed service. However, this guarantee came at a cost. For the last quarter of 1825 William Hughes received £700 from the Mona mine. For the next 3 years William Hughes earned almost £2900 pa for his carting services from the mines although he never achieved a monopoly at the Parys mine.

In 1819 Faraday visited the mines and recorded: –
“The Mountain is about 2 miles from the town. Our path was along a very dusty, dirty road for when bad it is mended with slag and cinder and as there are always 12 or 14 carts moving backwards and forwards on it these materials are soon ground into black and disagreeable powder. There are no trams used on these roads or in the mines in consequence of the corrosive effects which the waters from the workings would have upon them and which would destroy them in a short time.”
In addition, a new road was built from the Pearl engine house down to the port.

The high cost of Hughes carting charges was often the subject of debate between Treweek, who supported Hughes and Sanderson, who wanted to open up competition in the carting market. It was one of the factors which lead to the investigation in 1825 of the possibility of building a railway from the mountain to the port. It was estimate that the railway would be able to reduce costs and pay for itself in three years.

Records show that the miners in the Parys were charged around 8d per ton of ore moved to the dressing floor by the carts. Once the ore had been dressed it was then taken to the kilns for calcining to remove the sulphur. This was charged at 4d per ton. For transport down to the smelting works at the port 1/8d per ton was charged

However, dispute the threat of the railway Hughes, who knew that other farmers could not supply the cartage required., would only bid for the whole of the Mona business on his terms or leave the Mines to the inefficient service of many local farmers. He continued in this way until his death in 1840 and was succeeded by his son John.

By 1843 it was becoming more and more difficult to maintain the monopoly with the offer of reduced prices from other farmers. The monopoly was final broken by Thomas Beer the accountant who forced John Hughes to reduce his prices. The price for carting ore or brimstone from the mountain to the port was reduced from 1/6d to 1/2d per ton, saving Mona Mine £160 pa from 1843 onwards. It has been suggested that if the mines had been willing to use other farmers they could have saved an additional £60 pa but they preferred to stay with the good service of the Hughes family

A further reduction in carting costs were negotiated between Beer and Hughes in 1851. At this time Hughes employed 22 horses and 12 men at 12/- per week and the yearly expense for the carting business was around £1000 pa.
There are a total of 12 carters listed in the 1851 Amlwch census suggesting that the monopoly was beginning to break up.

The railways
During the early development of the mines the Horse and cart supplied the only none human form of transporting the ore and other materials from and to the mountain. Initially a number of local farmers were involved and competition between them kept the prices low. However, after 1811 William Hughes gained a monopoly of carting for the Mona Mine and also provided the majority of the carting service to Parys mine.

When Faraday visited the mines and recorded: –
“The Mountain is about 2 miles from the town. Our path was along a very dusty, dirty road for when bad it is mended with slag and cinder and as there are always 12 or 14 carts moving backwards and forwards on it these materials are soon ground into black and disagreeable powder. There are no trams used on these roads or in the mines in consequence of the corrosive effects which the waters from the workings would have upon them and which would destroy them in a short time.”

Only occasional evidence has been found for the use of tramways in the mines. Some stone sleepers have been found which may have supported tramways One of the paintings of the mine by John Warwick Smith in 1792 shows a short piece of track.

The carting monopoly lead to higher prices which in November 1825 resulted in John Sanderson the Plas Newydd agent looking at the possibility of having a railway built from the mountain to the smelting works at the port. (MMS 674) Treweek estimated that it would cost around £3000 for such a railway, which it was said would pay for itself in 3 years.

It was February 1828 before further progress was made when Mr Charles Vignoles arrived to survey the route from the Mona mine to the smelting works. in March 1828 Vignoles reported to Sanderson (MMS3180). He recommended:-
“the formation of an edge railroad on the most approved modern principle laid down on Self Acting Incline Planes and intermediate level, transport of copper, ore, coal thereon in proper wagons. This would reduce costs of transport …such that railway would pay for itself in three years.”

A Direct line from the mountain to the port was proposed with branch line to Parys and Mona kilns and to the yards of the smelting houses. The railway would continue on the quay and enable two vessels to be loaded or unloaded at a time. Vignoles estimate for the cost from mountain to port was £6350.

At the time the mines were fairly quiet and Treweek tried to pursued the owners to build the railway while labour was cheap and plentiful. However, a decision was not forthcoming and Vignoles left in August 1830.

A further reduction in mining activity and drop in the price of iron for the railroad meant that by 1831 Sanderson agreed to set men to ” cut the ground that may be necessary for the intended railway” (MMS 1048)
A detailed plan of the intended line from the smelting works to the mountain was drawn up in 1834 but did not materialize. (MMS1550)

In 1833 a railway was built from the smelting works down to the shipping berths at Amlwch port. It was operational by 11/6/1834 Treweek reported. ” We have put our engine to work at the port and I am proud to say that there is every probability of its answering equal of our expectations, when we have our turnout roads down we shall be prepared to unload three vessels at once or 200 tons in a day”

The 1891 edition of the OS map shows a narrow track, bounded on either side by a wall, leading towards the mountain from the side of the Iron foundry in machine street. The proposed track would have lead around the back of William Hughes the carter’s land at Madyn Dysw.

It might be significant that Treweek reported that almost immediately problems arose with leases and right of way and work was stopped.
Nothing more is known about the railway from the mountain to the port. However, in September 1863 work began on a passenger railway from Gaerwen to Amlwch Port The first part of the line from Gaerwen to Llangefni became operational in October 1864.

The arrival of the railway at Llangefni gave the copper companies a new way of shipping copper ore which was to compete with the ships from the harbour.

In May 1865 Thomas fanning Evans wrote ” The Birmingham and London rates now make the land route even cheaper than our present mode of sending via Liverpool The freight cost of ore from Llangefni to London 27/6 per ton to Birmingham 22/6 and to Liverpool 16/8. (MMS 1996)
Even when the cartage to Llangefni at 10/- per ton was taken into account the total price to London was £1/17/- per ton compared to £2/1/6 via ships.

The Mona Mine manuscripts (MMS 3749) records that for the 2 week period ending on 9 June 1865, 21 tons of ore was sent on the sea and 16 tons on the railway. The following two week periods show 27 and 32 tons of ore being transported on the railway and none by sea.

The next part of the railway to Amlwch town became operational on 3 June 1867 and must have further reduced the cost of shipping.
It is unfortunate that the production of copper ore at the mountain reduced from around 1865 onwards. In 1871 it was declared that “ As regards the line to Port of Amlwch, nothing ought to be done till there is certainty by guarantee or otherwise of sufficient traffic to pay a proper interest on the Capital to be expended in making it” (MMS 3363)

In 1873 Fanning was sending precipitate to Baxter in London by rail and would have sent more for want of trucks at the station. Scrap iron was also brought from Liverpool by rail. (MMS 3528). In February 1873 a deal was signed with a scrap merchant in London to send iron for the precipitation pits by rail.

By 1874 a new company called Parys Mountain Mines Limited was working the Parys and Morfa ddu mines. A new shaft had been sunk at the latter mine and 8470 tons of copper ore,634 tons of sulphur and 255 of bluestone had been produced. (MMS 3002)

The rail company directors were now “assured that the future traffic will be greatly extended from the great impetus that has of late, and is now being given in the working of the copper mines at Amlwch, and from the fact that the smelting works are again about to resume their former activity”
However, the work at Morfu ddu was sold as was most of the rest of the mountain to Thomas Fanning Evans in 1884. He had already shown preference to using rail rather that ships, this continued but the extension of the rail down to Amlwch port did not occur.