Amlwch Data

Information about the history and and genealogy of Amlwch,Anglesey

The Life and Times of the Parys Mountain Copper Miners

Extracts from Looking Back by E. Wyn Hughes

"Mynydd Parys" (Parys Mountain) is a rare and invaluable book, written by Owen Griffith; it was originally serialised in Cymru, (Wales) a remarkable Welsh monthly magazine, and published as a complete work in 1897. What makes this book so fascinating is that it was written by a man who had started working in the Parys Mountain copper mines at the tender age of nine years, when he earned four pence a day - a fourteen hour day.

Owen Griffith was born in 1851, the son of Robert and Sydney Griffith, of Lletroed, near the village of Penysarn. He gave up working in the copper mines and became a successful shopkeeper in the village. Gifted with a fine singing voice and endowed with excellent stage presence, he was a familiar figure in eisteddfodau and music festivals. He was elected an elder in Bosra Chapel, Penysarn, and also acted as preceptor. Active in local government, a member of the local School Board, the Board of Guardians, the Parish Council, the District Council, and was elected alderman on the Anglesey County Council. In a word, he was a fine example of that public-spirited liberal nonconformist servant of the people so typical of the late Victorian era. He died in 1897 and was buried in the churchyard at Llanwenllwyfo. His life coincided with the brief revival in the fortunes of the Parys Mountain copper mines that occurred in the second half of the century, and not to the earlier period when the mines were at the height of their production and Amlwch determined the price of copper in the markets of the world. This was the period (1770-1800) when Amlwch was a 'boom town' ' The Parish Registers reveal that it was not uncommon to find twenty-seven baptisms being recorded in the space of one month. The birth rate was high and so, too, were the deaths, especially among infants and children - over 40%. Yet Amlwch was really no worse than any other similar town at this time.

The main cause of the high mortality rate was the appalling social conditions that prevailed in the town: the worker's houses were mean and dirty with earth floors, little better than hovels, 15 feet by 12 feet, with no more than two rooms. Furniture was minimal: typically, a settle, two stools; the earth floor was covered with rush mats, and an earthenware pot to hold water and a wall cupboard to store food completed the meagre furnishings.

By 1800 thatched roofs were beginning to give way to roofs of slate. In such hovels, lacking any form of sanitation beyond an earth closet, it was not surprising that outbreaks of cholera broke out in the town from time to time as in other parts of the country. When Amlwch suffered a cholera epidemic in 1831-32 the authorities arranged for the streets to be swept and the houses to be whitewashed. The Parys Mountain mine was an unhealthy and dangerous place for those who worked there. Many were injured in rock falls and others when the black powder used for blasting exploded prematurely.

Prior to 1831 it was the custom for the miners to choose their own doctor to act for the company, two pence a week being deducted from each miner's wages to pay for his services. From 1831, however, each miner could visit a doctor of his own choice at the company's expense.

One of the main health risks the miners faced resulted from inhaling fumes from the vitriol works, and many suffered from rheumatism. Some miners preferred their own remedies to the medicine prescribed by the doctor was a pint of spiced ale containing an ounce of gunpowder was a favourite with many. Dr Thomas Hughes of the Parys Mine Company and Dr Richard Lewis Parry of the Mona Mine Company both testified to the Royal Commission on Mines in 1863; at that time the miners' wage was from 13/6d to 141- a week. After blasting, miners had to wait two hours before the cordite fumes cleared and it was safe to enter the mine. Many of the miners suffered from tuberculosis and from silicosis through having to drill through quartz to reach the copper lodes. The miners would drink vast quantities of tea and coffee and suffered from dyspepsia. The two doctors reported to the Commission that the miners looked fifteen years older than their contemporaries who worked on the land.

Amlwch was a wild and violent town with much drunken behaviour. After 1830 there were sixty taverns in the town selling beer throughout the day. Children ran barefoot through the streets begging. Although a National School had been established in 182 1, it had done little to improve a lot of the children. In 1831 the coronation of William IV was celebrated in the town until the early hours of the following morning and ended in drunken brawling. Similar scenes were common whenever a new shaft was sunk, such as the opening of the 'Coronation' shaft which celebrated the coronation of George IV in 1821.On that occasion blasting took place from sunrise to eleven o'clock in the morning,

When the first miner sunk his pickaxe into the rock at the site of the new shaft. Everyone shouted wildly as more rocks were blasted. By mid-day over a thousand miners and their wives assembled on the mountain to dance and to carouse. The gentry feasted in a marquee above which the Union Jack flew proudly. Despite the fact two miners suffered gunpowder burns, the celebrations continued and were finally concluded with the singing of 'Long Live King George IV'.

In 182 5 William Lewis Hughes of Llys Dulas, whose fortune came from the mine, made one of his infrequent visits to the mine. Hundreds of rocks were blasted and four hundred miners, wearing blue ribbons in their hats, voiced their welcome beside the giant open cast; later, they marched behind a band to the town top enjoy a meal washed down with draughts of beer.

In this cultural desert, the Welsh Sunday School alone provided an oasis for the ordinary miner. In the 1820's there was an attendance of over three hundred and fifty at the Sunday School held at Capel Mawr and organised in sixty classes. Through its influence some experienced a genuine conversion and their lives were completely changed. Of some it could be said, in the words of Ecclesiasticus Chapter XLIV verse 9,

"And some there be, which have no memorial, who are perished as though they had never been...."

But Catherine Randal (1743-1828), long remembered locally as 'Cadi Rondol' (though now almost forgotten), is a notable exception.

On Wednesday, February 20th, 1828: lames Webster, the proprietor of the Parys Mountain sulphuric acid works, stands in the window of his home, Fudrol, observing the huge funeral procession as it makes its way to St. Eleth's Church; he is full of memories. It is the funeral of Cadi Rondol, or Catherine Randal as recorded by the Rev. William Johnson in the Amlwch parish register.

The Randal family probably came to Amlwch with the first wave of immigrants to work on Parys Mountain between 1761 and 1775. Jane Randal, Catherine's mother lived in Parc Bach near Glanrafon and was buried on the 2nd September, 1794.

It appears that she had two daughters: one, Ellen, married Henry Wilson on October 18th, 1775 in the old parish church, when her sister Cadi, was thirty two years of age. It is interesting to note that Ellen was able to write her own name, and it is likely that Cadi, too, was literate.

Whatever became of Ellen Randall and her husband, Cadi soon began to kick over the traces in the licentious town of Amlwch; she became a notorious prostitute, whose coarse language became a byword in the town - it became customary to refer to anyone who habitually used coarse language as 'swearing like Cadi Rondol' ' She could be violent, too, as John bones (1 762-1822) as elder at Capel Mawr, found to his cost. He tried to calm her down as she was cursing everyone in the street. Cadi turned on him and threatened him - the very pillar of respectability - with a knife!

However, some time after 1788 Cadi Rondal was converted in the 'Capel Mwd' at Pengraigwen and became a faithful member of the 'society' at Lletroed Chapel, and tramped the countryside from chapel to chapel to listen to the gospel.

On one occasion she walked to Llanfwrog and in her ecstasy jumped up on the pew and wrecked it. Another time she suddenly remembered that she had left the dough to rise, she grew agitated and shouted that Satan would not leave her alone!

After her conversion she earned a living handling and sorting out feathers, and was made welcome by many a family. At Fudrol, she was invited into the dining room where the table was already laid for a sumptuous meal but she declined to eat, saying "You see, 1 have seen the Lord's table prepared and shall, 1 hope, sit at it.... "

Around 1800-04 she was employed as a maid in the service of John Elias (1774-1841) and his wife at their shop in Llanfechell. When John Elias rebuked her for singing a lullaby to his son and suggested that a hymn would be more suitable, she replied, "Do not imagine that 1 would sing a hymn to him -1 will not sing the praises of my Lord to your son or anyone else."

A question put to John Elias by a maid, "Tell me, Mr Elias, was it for my sins that the Lord Jesus suffered?" - prompting him to compose one of his greatest hymns. Was Cadi Rondal that maid, I wonder?

According to a Plas Newydd rent book 'Catherine Randol' rented a small cottage at Dyffryn Coch' for which she paid a rent of two shillings to the Marquees of Anglesey - the lowest rent on the estate. Owen Griffith recalled a story about John Elias leaving Lletroed Chapel with John Hughes of Ty'n Caeau to visit an old woman on her deathbed - an incident immortalised by Percy Hughes (1898-1962) in his prize-winning ballad at the Anglesey Eisteddfod in 1954

"Sion Huws a'i 'Haleliwia, A John Elias fawr,
Yn danfon Cadi Rondol Drwy berth y dwyfol wawr"

(John Hughes and his 'Hallelujah' with the great John Elias Ushering Cadi Rondol through to the heavenly dawn.)

Her funeral was paid for by James Webster, but no gravestone was erected to mark her final resting place. But with or without a stone, the name of Cadi Rondol has not passed into oblivion.

Religion played an important part in the life and work of the Parys Mountain miners for whom the prayer meeting held a special significance. Owen Griffith records the story of the Miners' Smithy.

"These meetings were started soon after the two companies, the Parys and the Mona, began exploiting the riches of Parys Mountain. They were held twice a day; the first meeting was at six o'clock in the morning, the second between nine and ten in the evening. The miners worked an eight-hour shift; those working on the night shift were able to attend two prayer meetings, one after starting down the mine at ten o'clock in the evening and one at the end of their first shift at six in the morning. Those working early shift attended a prayer meeting before starting work, similarly those on the afternoon shift could also attend the prayer meeting held at ten o'clock. The regular meeting-place was the miners' smithy.

Though lacking both pulpit and pews it was a sacred place, and while its contents reflected its primary purpose, it was admirably suited to its acquired function. Two large bellows, two large anvils, and two chimney-corners stood at either end of the building, rough pigeon holes around the walls in which were stored the drills belonging to the various' bargains': and the floor similarly marked out by short iron bars representing the various bargains. Thus the floor, the shelves and walls were the repository of all manner of drills and tools. In the far corner, beside the great bellows, stood a small plain cupboard in which was kept the large Bible.

The miners had deep respect for religious observances, as the tale of what happened at the end of the eighteenth century and the early years of the following century to the old pulpit from Lletroed Chapel.

" appears that one of the chief stewards of the Parys Mine took it into his head to demolish the chapel at Rhos-y-Bol. He sensed that the miners were reluctant to carry out the work, which was not altogether surprising since many of them were faithful members of Lletroed Chapel. Nevertheless, the chapel was destroyed, but at a public auction there were no bidders for the contents of the chapel; the consequence was that the pews and the pulpit were removed to the yard of the Mona Mine.

The timber was left in the yard in the expectation that the miners would make use of it in the same way that they used so much timber every year. But despite the fact that there were many occasions when timber was required (in fact, during the course of a year some tons of timber was used), no-one in the mine ventured to make use of the timber taken from the old chapel and there it remained, lying in the yard until time and the elements finally consumed it. The pulpit itself was stored in a loft, but not even the most irreligious of the miners would venture to disturb it; and there it stood, covered with cobwebs, until it finally vanished completely under accumulations of dust.

There is hardly anyone today who is familiar with the life of Richard bones, the first minister to serve the chapels of Nebo and Bosra, 'the finest man the neighbourhood produced in the last century' according to Owen Griffith. Richard bones was born in 1840, the son of William and Ellen bones from Penysarn. In his youth he worked as a miner on Parys Mountain, but occasionally managed to find time to spend an afternoon at the British School in Rhos-y-Bol, where John Rhys (later to become Professor of Celtic at Oxford) was briefly headmaster there. It was in 1 86 5, the year Rhys left for Oxford, that Richard bones started to preach. Within two years the Anglesey Presbytery approved his application to study for the ministry. He spent a period between 1867 and 1872 at John Evans' school at Menai Bridge, passed the required denominational examinations, and was ordained a minister at Bala in 1875. Though an outstanding leader in the secular affairs of the community, he was predominately a preacher of the gospel. The Rev. Richard Pritchard, in his volumes on the history of Methodism in Anglesey, record that

"The Rev Richard Jones, of Nebo, is a fine preacher. His sermons are carefully prepared and his delivery is fluent. His only weakness is a tendency to be monotonous from start to finish. Deliberate in manner, he has a pleasant and effective voice. This is our opinion; we may be mistaken. This minister possesses much independence of mind."

Whatever we may make of John Pritchard's verdict, William Jones remained a popular preacher and at the time of his death in 1905 his preaching engagements were full for the following nine years. His personal life was not without its tragedies: his eldest sister died in child birth; his father became blind during the last twelve years of his life; his younger sister was for many years a victim of paralysis, while another suffered a long and lingering illness. Nor was Richard Jones himself very strong, and he died at a comparatively early age on March 22, 1896, and was buried at Llanwenllwyfo.

But according to Owen Griffith, he was a man whose religion was essentially one of a practical nature, that practical religion that flourished among many of the miners of Parys Mountain.

The administrative hub of the two mining companies were the two yards. There was nothing much to distinguish one from the other, although the Mona Mine yard was somewhat larger than that at the Parys Mine. Today they are both in ruins, but at one time they were both the centres of great activity.

An area in land, about an acre in size, and enclosed walls some nine to ten feet in height, situated on the south-eastern side of the mountain housed the extensive offices of the Mona Mine Company. Within the walls was an assortment of buildings The smithy, a lime-house, the bier house, a bell tower, wagon shed, an oil store and an amazing accumulation of rope of various kinds and other equipment: steel, iron, copper wire, together with stores of grease, pitch, tar and paint etc.

Above these were extensive store rooms in which kept mats made from sea-sedge, bedrooms, all sorts and sizes of sieves; copper iron and lead pipes. smiths' bellows, leather, India rubber, solder, sheet lead, copper and iron nails, metal polish, bath bricks, various coloured blankets and cloth for the miners, hard hats for the stewards, and a vast number of old books.

Yet another storehouse was used to store gunpowder, fuse caps, candles, and brown paper: there was a sawpit and carpenters' shop, an assay office, stables and a turnery shed. In the corner of the yard lay a stack of timber for use in the mines.

Between the sampling house and the offices stood a large pulpit with a top to it, resembling for all the world an old-fashioned wainscot bed .... It was placed by the office window in the upper part of the Mona Yard, and this pulpit, too like the one at Parys Mine has a strange tale to tell. Once a month (or in earlier times, once every two or three months) the company manager and its chief clerk would mount upon this pulpit; in front of them were two massive volumes and a small wooden box some eight inches square containing a fistful or two of small pebbles. When 1 recall some of the incidents associated with the sheeting of the 'bargains', 1 am amazed that a company of life guards was not required to stand at door of the pulpit. Of the two volumes on the pulpit, one was for those who wished to bargain to mine copper at so much a ton, the other recorded the names of those ready to dig out the levels or tunnels at so much a fathom. The pebbles in the wooden box were flipped over the heads to the assembled workers to signify that the two parties, the 'tributers' and the 'tutworkmen' were agreed on the bargain for the following month.

I saw bargains at three pound a ton of mined ore, and I also saw the folly of miners bidding against each other so that bringing the price down till it fell to no more than a halfpenny a ton to be shared between ten or twelve partners - hardly enough to buy for one of them tobacco for the month they had agreed to work. Many bargains were struck for ridiculously low sums, but none were recalled more bitterly than the so-called 'Halfpenny Bargain.'

The miners' wages were paid out in the yards of both mines, but it was in the Parys Mine yard that a violent incident took place about 1860.

That was the time when the lease on the land which the Parys Mine Company worked was about to be terminated. Since another company intended to take over the mine, the company whose lease was about to run out offered its miners an agreement to collect all the copper that was readily available throughout the mine and bring it to the surface, so that its successors should not benefit from their toil. As the final month drew to a close, each 'bargain' was concluded with the miners fulfilling the agreement.

When pay day came, however, the miners found that the officials of the company did not intend to pay in full what was owed to the 'bargainers' who first brought up the ore, despite the agreement. The result was that the miners as one man moved on the office to find out if this was so. As this was to be the final pay day two or three of the owners or lessees were present as well as usual officials of the mine, and they told the men that this was indeed their intention. When the miners failed to convince them that this was unjust, they decided to hold their employer's prisoner in the office until they were paid the last farthing. As tempers rose, the miners pressed closer to the office door. The employers, however, remained adamant; but it was soon made clear to them that the only way they could escape from the confines of the office was through offering the men more money. As the miners became more and more menacing, there were those in the office who saw justice in the miner's point of view, the miners allowed one of them to go free. Mounting his horse he galloped away, glad to make his escape.

The rest of those in the office remained unmoved: their stubbornness provoked the men outside to rush right into the office. This weakened the resolve of the owners, who began to excuse their action by pretending that they did not have enough money on hand and that the banks were closed for the day. They promised, however, that if they were released, they would return the following Monday and pay the miners according to the terms of their agreement. The miners refused to swallow this and the struggle continued until late. Finally with their pockets much lighter by some hundreds of pounds more than they intended, the owners were allowed to escape. One of them mounted his horse and rode off like a madman; but before he could leave the Yard, the wind slammed the big door on him, catching both horse and rider in a vice-like grip. There they both remained helpless until they were finally released by the men.

Owen Griffith had himself worked in the mines on Parys Mountain, he was thus able to give his readers a first-hand impression of conditions underground in the mines.

We start from the eastern edge of the Open Cast through a part of the mine known as the Bad Hole. First we descend in daylight by a zig-zag path.'lf it is calm we light our candle and secure it in a lump of damp clay, this is the miner's candlestick; then, with the candle in one hand, and using the other to cling to a rickety ladder, the descent commences. At the foot of the ladder we enter a low tunnel through which we make our way for about twenty or thirty yards in an eastward direction; then the road turns northwards for some further fifteen yards till we reach the old workings - a dark and gloomy place known as Gwaith yrHwntwMawr (lit .'The big South-Walian's workings'). A brief look round and we descend a short ladder and a second even shorter ladder at the foot of which it becomes necessary to move forward crouched on hands and knees through a narrow opening till another ladder is reached and a further descent is made through a layer of blue and yellow clay. Downwards again along a short, steep path; a half turn brings one to another gallery, from which a short ladder takes one to Level 30. This is the first open space we come to after leaving Gwaith yr Hwntw, and we pause for a moment for a much needed rest. Its vast expanse is enormous, difficult to comprehend. We move on till we find another ladder; we slither and slide downwards through the mud and water till we reach a further ladder which brings us to a truly remarkable gallery, a testimony to the skill and competence of those who surveyed it. We proceed along it, down another ladder to Level 44. Walking along this gallery for some forty to fifty yards in the direction of the Garnedd Shaft, but before reaching it we descend again down rough steps to an old working at the foot of which is a chimney with a ladder, going down this ladder we find ourselves in Level 55. Having thus walked, crawled and dragged ourselves for almost half an hour we at last caught sight of the shaft which we had been aiming for from the start. We now proceed along this level to the Sydney to inspect the lode before returning to the Garnedd Shaft to see the smithy with its 255 foot chimney. Then we descend yet again to a deep and narrow working below which are ladders which lead us to yet a lower level. With considerable effort and clinging like goats to the steep ladder we came to Level 70.

After gazing with amazement at the vastness of these old working, we descend yet further by swinging on a chain ladder through the great open space to reach Level 80.

Here miners are at work sinking a new shaft, they are lowered by means of a bucket on a rope to reach the bottom. The miners had just finished firing charges to bring down more rock. All had gone well, the rock had shattered cleanly, and where we now stood none had ever stood there before. We paused to rest a while and to catch our breath, but for some time that was far from easy - smoke, so thick that we could barely see anything, filled the place; water poured on us, helping to remove the mud with which our clothes were caked, but which at the same time left us soaked to the skin from top to toe. Nevertheless, there we stayed until the smoke began to clear.

There was one good thing about conditions of work on Parys Mountain, no women or children were allowed to be employed underground. Unlike other mines, women were employed solely as surface workers; their job was to break up the ore - these were the 'Copper Ladies'. Owen Griffith well remembers them and their colourful ways.

The contribution these women made in preparing the copper ore for smelting was an essential one. Until about 1870-72 the 'copper ladies', as they were known, were a peculiar element in the neighbourhood of Amlwch. Between the two mines, dozens, if not hundreds of women were employed to break up the ore.

They worked in long timber sheds close to where the ore was brought to the surface. Seated in long ranks, with a block of iron weighing about a hundred-weight called a 'knockstone' beside each one of them, the women wore a gauntlet with the fingers protected by a series of iron bands on the left hand. Holding a lump of ore in this left hand, the women struck it with a hammer to remove the waste and to break the ore into a manageable size. This was their daily task throughout the year, for which they were paid twelve pence for the twelve hour day. The women invariably wore a 'lim Crow' hat under which they had a spotted scarf covering the head, neck and most of the face.

By about 1800,the Parish register for amlwch bear witness to the fact that a number of English immigrants were already settled in the parish, they bore names such as Paynter, Burry, Miller Randal, Miller, Robinson, Silkstone, Winterbotham, Orme and so forth. Ordinary miners were rapidly assimilated into the native population without much difficulty became Welsh in language and outlook. A Welshman, Thomas Williams ('Twm Chwarae Teg') controlled everything, but it was Englishmen, bearing names such as Cartwright, Ledgey, Elliot and Carey, who were responsible for middle management in the mines. Indeed, within a year of the discover of copper ore in Parys Mountain in 1 768, it became a custom to hold English services in St. Eleth's Church, until the arrival of lames Treweek (1779-1851) and his family to live in Mona Lodge in 1811, few Cornish miners had settled in Amlwch. But Treweek's arrival was followed by an influx of miners from Cornwall to the area.

For some twenty years the population of the parish continued to rise as more and more miners flocked to the area. By 1820 it was possible to discern three strands in the population: there were the monogiot Welsh, with their religious leaders like William Roberts (1784-1865) and Thomas bones, the translator (1777-1847); there were the ordinary miners, non Welsh-speaking at first, but rapidly becoming Cymricised: finally, there were the Cornish managers and their English friends who formed a small and closed community. This last group were those who actually controlled the Mona Mine and indeed the secular life of Amlwch. Their leader lames Treweek, was an exceptionally able and single-minded man, but he had a tendency to promote his friends and relatives in the Company at the expense of equally able Welshmen. He was of the opinion that no Welshman could be trusted to exercise authority over a fellow Welshman. Owen Griffith refers to this practice in his narrative.

Yesterday, they came here with nothing; tomorrow their ships are everywhere, their warehouses overflowing with all manner of goods, their coal-yards well stocked. They have houses and land, own sumptuous coaches and fine horses; they buy one man's stock another's corn ricks, they purchase houses and shops for their own clubs; they exploit the unfortunate and needy, bribing them to sell their birthright so that they may secure their own advancement -these are the foreigners who accuse the poor and oppressed working miners of seeking plunder!

They farm their own land but rarely, if ever, do they labour themselves, and only infrequently do they offer anyone employment, but remarkably everything is attended to in season and no shortage of labour is evident. In the same way, when they choose to build, they have no need to purchase material by the load or by the foot or by weight, they proceed unhampered by such constraints.

Treweek himself does not appear to have been guilty of such practices; he was successful in keeping relations between manager and the miners on an even keel. But within nine years of his death, the situation erupted.

Thomas Tiddy, who was appointed manager of the Mona Mine by Treweek in 1819, in preference to a Welshman who had successfully carried out the work for a number of years, was born in Cornwall in 1803. Tiddy, who may possibly have been Treweek's nephew, was married for the second time in Llanrwst in 1821 and by 1849 lived at 'Penrallt'. In that year he was accused of forcing miners from the Mona Mine to work on his land for nothing, and to buy dead animals for the price of live ones. By 1851, his income amounted to 175 a year.

In 1860, with the Company in financial difficulties, Tiddy attempted to cut the miners' wages. The miners responded by coming out on strike in the June of that year. Owen Griffith, who was an eyewitness, gives a vivid account of the strike in which as he reveals, the prayer meeting once more played an all-important role.

In the year 1860 the prayer meeting adopted a more militant attitude. Where the meetings had formerly been held in the smithy, they were now held daily in various locations on the slopes of Parys Mountain and on its summit. With the miners who barely succeed in making ends meet whilst still employed, now that they were no longer working their condition became even more wretched as their employers seemed determined to drive them into the dust.

For part of each day they marched through surrounding countryside, and then returned to the Mountain to pray. The prayer meeting was held on the open air and its sound could be heard at the foot of the Mountain. One of the most successful meetings was held in the Ox Quarry (probably so named because it was the place where, on September 24, 1816, an ox had been roasted to celebrate the landing of the Marquees of Anglesey, (the landlord, on the Island.) People of Anglesey still remember what happened on the day of the prayer meeting.

During the agitation, Captain Tiddy, the chief manager lurked by the engine house where the pumping engine stood and which normally functioned flawlessly. Suddenly, without warning, with a sound like a clap of thunder, parts of the engine flew in all directions and threatened to rock the engine house to its very foundations.

The Captain was much agitated - "his countenance was changed and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his bones smote one against another."

While the engineman strove to calm him, one of the minor stewards rushed in shouting "Ellis! For God's sake go to the quarry and tell Robin Tan Rhald to quit praying before every wheel in this mine is shattered to smithereens before we know where we are."

The engine remained as it was until 1865, but Thomas Tiddy and his wife lanet and their three children were forced to leave Amlwch before the end of 1860.

Another Cornishman, thirty three year old George Trewren, was then appointed chief manager in place of Thomas Tiddy.Trewren who was unmarried lodged at 'Bodgadfa' with Henry and Arm Edwards (great great grandparents of the editor).

When two brothers William and George Buzza, came to work on the mountain, Trewren showed them favours and this in time aroused antipathy. The practice of settling' bargains' at the pulpit in the yard of the Mona Mine has already been referred to. These were settled on a Saturday, but the miners had till the following Monday to accept or reject the bargain. It was, however, understood that in the meantime the bargain would not be offered to anyone else.

George Trewren showed the Buzza brothers around the mountain and showed them the best bargains and offer them to the brothers despite the fact that they were already under offer to others.

Angered by this move, the other miners went on strike. They refused to allow the two Buzzas to enter the mine and threatened to kill them. Trewren thereupon sacked the miners' leader, Owen Roberts. Peace was ultimately restored when Trewren was dismissed and left Amlwch for good. From 1863 onwards, Parys Mountain was in effect a 'closed shop' for welsh miners.

During the final period of the nineteenth century, one Charles Bunt Dyer (1801-79) was a very important figure in the mine. Though satirised by Lewis Williams Lewis, a local journalist and poet, who had been working in the mine during the period of the strike, Dyer was not a bad sort. His personal diaries, which have survived, tell something of his career. He was born in Devon in 1801, but by 183 3 he was employed as a steward in a lead mine in Northop.

He appeared to have been a very conscientious worker and an able engineer. He was politically active in the Northop area and was treasurer of his chapel, but at the same time he was not averse to taking a glass of beer in the 'Dolphin' on a Saturday night.

He was prevailed upon to visit Amlwch for three days in 1835 to view the copper mines. He was made welcome by William Lemin and lames Treweek and had lunch with them and with Thomas Tiddy and Samuel Greathead, Treweek's son-in-law. He became a member of that select group, the "Amlwch Literary and Scientific Institution." It is clear too, that he had an eye for the ladies. Though married with children, he attempted on more than one occasion to flirt with Arm Treweek, one of lames Treweek's daughters! He was a member of the English Wesleyan Chapel and joined the Cornishmen at their meetings on Sundays. He was a member of the local vestry, bought his clothes at Samuel Greathead's shop and in 1868 became one of the trustees of the harbour. He dined regularly at 'Ty Mawr'(the present Dinorben Hotel) with Treweek, Beer, Greathead, Lemin, Dr lones Roose, Henry and lames Webster, Thomas Tiddy, lames lab and others. His children married well, his daughter Emma Ellen married William Cox Paynter in 1846. Ten years later C.B. Dyer became the Parys Mountain Mining Company chief representative in Amlwch. He resided at Parys Lodge.

When Sarah lane Roose, of 'Bryntirion', celebrated her twentieth birthday in 1857, Dyer was one of the organisers of the banquet and the attendant jollifications with which the occasion was celebrated. The town resounded to shots being fired on the mountain, the houses and streets were be-flagged, a floral arch was erected across the street by the National Provincial Bank (where R..R. bones' shop is situated today), and the walls of the Dinorben Hotel were covered by Union Flags. The band of the Royal Caernarvonshire Militia was hired to march from the school playing the "March of the Men of Harlech". An address was given by the Rev. Morris Williams ('Nicander'), following which everyone preceded to Amlwch Port. Fortified by ale from the Mona Brewery, they all returned to the school where more than two hundred children were given tea and buns. Further sport followed as attempts were made to climb the greasy pole and to catch a greased pig. Fireworks, organised by William Gould, followed as more shots were fired and free beer was made available to the poor of Amlwch, while fifty of its foremost citizens sat down to dine at the Dinorben. Charles Dyer chaired the banquet at which no fewer than seven toasts were drunk and at which the guests were entertained by I.C. Roose (Chemicus) from the Hibernian Drug Hall.

These activities reflect Amlwch's prosperity during the years 1857 to 1870. This was the period when Parys Mountain Mining Company, under Charles Dyer's direction, made a profit of 400,000. The Mona Mine's fortunes were very different.

When Charles Dyer died in 1879, the North Wales Chronicle reported "Great sympathy was shown to the bereaved family by all classes."

Charles Bunt Dyer was to all intents and purposes the last of the foreign stewards of Parys Mountain. With his death a distinct period in the social life of Amlwch came to a close, and the working of Parys Mountain copper mines was virtually over, though a few continued to scrape a living from them until 1910.

Return to Amlwch data