The Mona and Parys copper mines were
located on Parys Mountain about two miles south of Amlwch in Anglesey.
The original name of the area was Mynydd Trysglwyn which is thought to
mean a hillside covered in a thick grove of rough trees covered with
scaly lichen growth.
In 1406 a Robert Parys was appointed by the King to collect taxes and
fines from the people of Anglesey who had supported the uprising of
Owain Glyndwr. As a reward for his efficient collection of taxes he was
given Mynydd Trysglwyn which later became named after him. At this time
the only asset on the mountain was the farm of Cerrig y Bleddia.
Over the next 300 years the area was passed down the generations until
in the mid 18th century the area was held by two of Anglesey's largest
landowners. The eastern area was owned and farmed by the Bayley family
of Plas Newydd. The western half of the mountain was jointly owned and
farmed by Bayly and by William Lewis of Llys Dulas. The boundary between
the two properties was indistinct. In 1762 the Bayly family took a lease
on the whole of the Parys farm area on the East of the mountain.
Prior to the 16th century all gold, copper and other precious minerals
mined in Britain were automatically crown property. This was a dis-incentive
for mining operations to be carried out. During the 16th century the
need for brass for the woollen industry was increasing rapidly.
In addition Brass was required for cannons as the Tudor Kings did not
want to depend on the import of copper for their weapons of war. In 1564
Queen Elizabeth gave a patent to work copper ore to produce the metal
using methods developed in Germany. On 28th of May 1568 the "Mines
Royal" company was formed to bring in the skills of the copper workers
from other areas of the continent and to develop British copper mines.
The Mines Royal were given exclusive rights to mine for copper.
A Mine Royal was a mine (Owned by the Crown) that had deposits
containing Gold or Silver in quantities that could be extracted. Many of
the Mines in Wales at this time whilst extracting lead ore were
primarily being worked for the Silver content of the ore. Large amounts
of Silver were sent to London at the end of the 16th Century largely
from the great vein at Cwmsymlog Mine. The Mines Royal continued to hold
a monopoly on Mines containing Silver (this included most of the working
Welsh Mines) until 1693 when 1693 Royal assent was granted to an Act
which removed the Crown ownership of mines containing Silver or Gold
The main ores mined were silver, gold and lead, copper working at that
time was a commercial failure. The best average annual production was
probably around 21 tons of copper metal up to 1615 and between 1640 and
1680 a total of 40 tons at best. There was no real demand for copper at
that period and the Mines Royal copper smelting operations only survived
on the silver they extracted.
Copper production in England and Wales did not take off until the 1690s
with the help of the reverberatory furnace and new uses to stimulate
In 1693 the monopoly of copper mining was removed from the Mines Royal
and privateers were allowed to start to prospect for copper and other
minerals. By the early part of the 18th century there is evidence that
some copper mining prospectors were active in Anglesey and other areas
of Anglesey and North Wales
There is evidence that some areas of Parys mountain had been subjected
to the fire setting techniques of Bronze age man
in an effort to gain copper for making crude tools.
It is thought that the Romans had mined some
areas of Parys mountain for lead and copper
When the Romans left Britain copper mining went into the
From this is can be assumed that the presence of at least some copper
bearing ore in Parys mountain had been know about for some time. However
the was no incentive for private money to be invested to develop the
In 1579 a Mr Medley had carried out experiments to precipitate copper in
the streams which ran out of the mountains. A " Great mineral works" was
built but never became a commercial operation. Details of the process
are described by Sir John Wyn of Gwydir.
"The experiment was made in the presence of Burghley,Leicester and
Walshingham and other Lords of the council" (i.e. all the important men
in the Kingdom at the time)
The result of boiling a great cauldron of the coloured waters from the
mine was to produce " alum , copperas and transmute Iron into Copper"
This "magical" property of changing one metal Iron into another Copper
was held up as a great example of Alchemy.
There is a reference to "The Prince's mine at Trysglwyn" in 1698.
In 1706 a visitor to North Wales noted that the mountain yielded "a sort
of earth which of which they make Alum and Copperas"
In 1748 Lewis Morris in his dairies noted that the mountain " produced
an Okery earth which is used to make paint" There was no mention of
In 1760 Dr John Rutty gave an address to the Royal Society on the "
Vitriolic liquors" flowing out of the mountain. They were said to be of
benefit for curing ulcers, itches, internal haemorrhaging ,worms and
By 1761 various preliminary search for under ground ore were being made
in the Amlwch area. It is known that Cornish miners were active at Drws
y Coed in Snowdonia. There is also mention by Lewis Morris that some
were prospecting in Anglesey including Rhosmynach and Parys.. A
Cornishman called James Thomas was said to have already mined some ore
at Parys and sent it to Warrington for smelting.
In the same year the Steward of the Arch Deacon of Merionydd was also
carrying out a careful search of the Parys Mountain area. It is reported
that his horse stumbled and fell into the remains of some previous
workings on the mountain.
One of the areas being investigated was that of Cerrig Y Bleiddia farm
were Alexander Fraser had began to look for ore for the Bayley family. A
number of shafts were sunk in the area now known as Hen Waith. Copper
was found but flooding was always a major problem.
Alexander Fraser was a Scot who had fought with the Jacobeans in 1689
against the King. In 1692 he fled Scotland when he killed a piper for
playing an anti Fraser clan tune. He initially went to the Marquis of
Powis who had Jacobean tendencies. It was here that Fraser learnt his
mining skills. In 1761 it is reported by Lewis Morris that " A Scot
called Fraser was working the Copper mines at Rhos Mynach"
By 1764 Bayly had almost given up on mining for copper on his land. He
entered into a lease arrangement with Roe and Company from Macclesfield.
They were given the right to mine for 21 years from October 1764 at the
eastern end of Parys mountain and also at a Lead mine at Caernarfon. It
was the later lead mine that held the greatest attraction to Roe and
company at the time.
The land at Cerrig y Bleddia was searched for a number of years and
although copper was found it was always in difficult to work , wet
veins. One last exploration was started in February 1768 under the
direction of Jonathan Roose. This was successful and a rich vein was
found on 2nd March 1768 close to the previously named golden venture
shaft. This lead to the open cast working in Mona mine. The miner who
discovered the lode was called Roland Puw and for his work he was given
a rent free cottage for life.
Jonathan Roose is buried in Amlwch church yard.
By 1770 the vein had been extended onto the land belonging to Parys
farm. This caused increasing bitter legal disputes about the boundary
between the owners of the farms. One the one hand Sir Nicholas Bayley,
who owned the Mona land and Rev Edward Hughes who half owned Parys farm.
. One man who played a large part in the legal disputes was Thomas
Williams ( Twm Chwarae Teg or Tom Fair Play)
As well as the newly started open cast and under ground mine the
precipitation process was being used at Mona mine. In 1772/3 large
amounts of scarp iron were being transported from London to be used in
the precipitation pits.
Thomas Williams was born 31/5/1737 at Llansadwrn in Anglesey to a minor
land owning family. He became a lawyer and was first used by Edward
Hughes in 1774 to try and untangle the legal disputes about the boundary
of the Parys and Mona lands.
Thomas Williams legal work led to the formation of the Parys Mine
company in 1774. With Roose as his technical expert. Over the next few
years his influence and skills grew. He also formed alliances and
eventually also gained control of the Mona mine. Between 1787 and 1792
his influence grew until he had complete control of the Anglesey and
Cornwall copper production.
In 1778 a new company was also formed by John Champion to extract
brimstone from the ores on the mountain side. Also at this time the
Reverend Bingley visited the mines and left us with one of the earliest
written records of conditions at the mine.
Thomas Williams had copper warehouses in London , Birmingham and
Liverpool. He erected smelting works on coal fields in South Wales and
Lancaster. This was important as Anglesey coal was poor for smelting and
each tonne of ore needed 3 tonnes of coal. He campaigned vigorously for
the reduction in duty on coal carried by coast to try and improve the
smelting and pumping costs at the mine. he did so much in the copper
industry throughout the UK that he has been called "The Copper King"
Copper works were built at Flint and Penclawdd to make copper and brass
products. Many of these materials were for use in the African Slave
trade. Thomas invested £70,000 in this trade and petitioned parliament
in 1788 when a bill was being discussed to prevent British Ships
Thomas Williams also introduced the use of copper bolts to fix the
copper sheathing to Navel vessels and seem to have sold then to all
sides in the naval conflicts.
The copper and wire works at Greenfield near Holywell also produced the
copper blanks for the Parys mountain penny which were struck in
Birmingham and London.
At Mona mine the old 21 year lease to Roe and co had expired in 1785 and
a new company was formed. This was know as the "old" Mona Mine company
and was still confined to the Cerrig y Bleddia area. Thomas William's
became a partner in this new company when the Bayley sold his share to a
London Banker called John Dawes.
Under the Roe and co lease only the best parts of the mines had been
worked. Towards the end of the lease the whole area had lacked
investment and had poor facilities.
Under Thomas Williams direction new buildings were built at Mona and a
new quay built at Amlwch Port. Between 1785 and 1788 over £61,000 was
invested in the Mona mine. This investment was well repaid over the next
10 year as new areas were opened and the Zenith of the combined mines
production was reached. During these years 1200 people were employed at
the two mines.
Thomas William's died in 1802 and over the next 5 years the production
of copper at the mines dropped dramatically. By 1808 only 120 men were
employed. The rapid drop in production was partially due to the end of
the workable areas of the Open cast and partially because of a reduction
in the market for copper.
During the period that Thomas Williams had been in charge, Parys
mountain became a Mecca for some of the best artists of the day may of
who have left us impressions of the scenes at the copper mines.
In 1811 the control of both mines passed to Lord Uxbridge of Plas Newydd
and the same year the "new" Mona mine company was formed when John
Vivian of the Swansea copper family took a controlling interest in the
mines. With the great open cast worked out more traditional underground
areas had to be opened up. This was the period of an influx of Cornish
workers the most important of which was James Treweek.
Treweek became the new Mona mine Manager in 1811 and moved with his
family to Mona lodge in Amlwch. He was in charge of the mine and
transport to and from the port. He was also in charge of hiring and
firing at the mine. This gave him great power and lead to complaints of
nepotism. He was responsible for the setting of the price to be paid for
each area of the mine to be worked. These "bargains" were publicly set
every fortnight with a " Dutch auction" method being used. The lowest
bidder getting the work. It was around this time that Michael Faraday
visited the mined and recorded what he saw in his diaries.
Transport from and to the mine was by cart. For the Mona mine a local
farmer Williams Hughes of Madyn Dysw had a monopoly for over 20 years.
However at Parys mine other local farmers could also carry.
By 1828 Treweek was also in charge of the precipitation pits at the mine
and his control was extended to the operation of the Parys Mine. A few
years later he was in control of all aspects of smelting at the mine and
at Amlwch port and was also responsible for all movement of shipping for
the mine in the port area. He reported to Sanderson who was Lord
Uxbridge's estate manager. Treweek held control of all these aspects of
mine operation until his death in 1851. His family then took control and
were also influential in the Amlwch ship building industry which
developed in the middle of the 19th Century.
The demand for copper was low in the early years of the 19th century and
the Mona mine had difficulties paying its way. However under Treweek the
mines did expand by the new methods of digging deeper shafts and using
engines to dewater the mine. In 1829 16,400 tonnes of ore was raised
annually. This however was only 50% of that raised during the time of
the great open cast.
Many of the methods and Supervisors during this period came from
Cornwall. It was a constant complaint that the Mona mine supervision
were mainly outsiders while the Parys mine had more local officials.
Despite the problems from 1817 to 1823 the Mona mine produced a good
quality and quantity of ore and was making a healthy profit under the
supervision of the Thomas Tiddy who was appointed by Treweek in1819..
However by 1829 the price and demand was dropping again and the numbers
employed at the mine was reduced. By around 1830 many of the
precipitation pits were abandoned. In 1860 Tiddy attempted to cut the
Mona Mine workers wages. however a strike resulted. Tiddy was forced to
hide in the Cerreg y Doll engine house. All the miners at the time were
in a prayer meeting. the boiler of the engine house blew up. This was
the last straw for Tiddy who left the mine soon after. He was replaced
at the Mona mine by another Cornishman Captain Trewren. However he also
provoked the miners into another strike in 1863.
When Treweek came to Amlwch the smelters were only seen as a means of
concentrating the ore. Treweek saw there potential in there own right.
He paid particular attention to their development and even started to
bring in ores from other parts of the country to smelt with the local
ores. By 1820 the Mona mine had 16 smelter furnaces and the Parys works
9. The output of each group of smelters was around 350 tpa. As the
production from Mona and Parys mines dropped additional material was
brought in form other parts of Britain.
At Parys mine the exhaustion of easily won supplies also lead to a
reduction of output in the first part of the 19th century. Until in
1832/4 a new rich vain called the North Discovery lode was found which
lasted until around 1840. After this many workmen and woman from Parys
moved to the Drws y Coed mine in Snowdonia.
The exact position of the boundary between the Mona and Parys mines was
argued over for many years. in September 1835 a court ruling meant that
Parys mine gained 2000 square yards of land from the Mona mine.
By 1840 much mining had finished and the whole Amlwch area was
impoverished. The area was also hit by Typhus fever due to malnutrition.
In 1846 Charles Dyer was the mine supervisor the remaining miners went
on strike to try and increase their miserable wages. However the area
remained poor until towards the middle of the Century another good
copper vein was discovered and some work returned to the mine.`
In 1847 James Treweek was followed as Manager of the mine by his son
John Treweek. The amount of copper raised at the mine improved and by
1858 the people of Amlwch were in a much better state of health.
A new act was past in 1850 which meant that all injuries and deaths in
the mine had to be reported to inspector. The first mine inspector in
North Wales was Thomas Fanning Evans.
The Mona mine was leased to Thomas Fanning Evans and John Wynne Paynter
for 31 years on 20/4/1866. ore production was fairly consistent. Part of
the smelter works was leased to Henry Hills. In 1880 Mona Mines Ltd took
over the assets with Robert Oldrey as principle share holder. Work was
started on the Lemin shaft. However the company was wound up in 1885.
The company was merged with the Parys Mine in 1899 to form Mona and
Parys mines Ltd. Activity was concentrated at the precipitation and
ochre works at Dyffryn Adda.
Closer ties were made with the copper smelters in the Swansea valley.
Other merchants were able to make a living off the miners and other
works such as Mr Hills fertiliser factory were also providing
Between 1858 and 1870 Captain Dyer was the Chief manager at Parys
Mines.. The company operated under the name of Parys Mines Company Ltd.
It is estimated that around £400,000 profit was made for the mine owners
at that time. However things went down hill again after 1870 when the
lease was pasted to Parys Mines Reconstructed Ltd. Some of the engineers
like Captain Trevithick and Williams left the mine. The company name was
changed to Parys Mountain Mines Ltd. In 1877 the Morfu du portion of the
lease was sold to the Morfu Du mining company.
Charles Dyer died in 1879.
A new company called the Parys Copper Corporation and run by Captain
Thomas Mitchell from Cornwall took over the operation of the Parys mine
on 24 March 1879. Work was mainly confined to the 90 fathom level of the
Carreg Y doll lode. The remaining ore was difficult and costly to
remove. Over the next 4 years production dropped as low as 5665 tonnes
of ore and 3090 of ochre and umber. This by 400 workers. The Parys
Copper Corporation was wound up in 1885 when the Parys and Morfu du
In 1879 a local committee was formed to try and support the poor of the
parish once again. the company was also in financial difficulties and it
was mainly the Ochre pits that were worked.
There was also an attempt to work under ground at the bottom of the Open
cast sits. New deeper mine tunnels were dig. The tunnels at Mona mine
had some success but those at Parys mine were found to be too costly.
the companies income for 1878 was only £2000 against £4000 expenditure.
The leases and equipment was sold to another company. However it was
difficult to raise money and in 1880 the company was sold yet again.
This time to a Mr Fanning Evans and Wynne Paynter who sublet the mines
for others to work.
One of the companies imported an expensive furnace from America. After a
few days the molten ore had solidified in the pipes blocking them.
Inspection by the manufacturers said that the ore was too stony and
unsuitable for treatment in a furnace.
In 1892 Mr Fanning Evans owned the mine and employed 31 miners under
ground,126 on the surface and 34 with ochre. Output was 265 tons of
copper precipitate worth £3090,2150 tons of Ochre and umber worth £4870
and 470 ton of stone worth £850. The Parys mine joined with the Mona
mine in 1899 to form Mona and Parys Mines Ltd. Activity was concentrated
at the precipitation and ochre works at Dyffryn Adda.
By the 1901 census 141 worked at the mine producing only copper and
ochre from the pits. Mr T.F.Evans was the mine manager in 1921 when a
receiver was called in. In 1928 companies house were informed that the
mines were now run by a private company.
A small number of shafts were still worked at the Morfa ddu mine on the
Parys farm and the precipitation ponds near to Dyffryn Adda were still
in use as late as 1904.
It has been estimated that between 1768 and 1904 , 3.5 million tons of
ore had been removed to give around 130 000 tons of copper metal. Around
20 km of under ground tunnels were excavated.
Exploration using modern techniques recommended in 1955 by Anglesey
Mining Exploration Ltd.and has continued since then. The Anglesey Copper
Mines (UK) LTd continued until 1962 drilling 11 surface boreholes.
Initial searches were again for copper bearing ore.
The canadian industrial Gas and Oil company ltd ( CIGOL) drilled 52 bore
holes over 4 years from 1966 but no promising reserves were found.
However in 1973 the existence of a high grade polymetalic ore deposit in
the engine zone was discovered by Cominco LtD. It was estimated that the
reserves were 4.8 million Tonnes of an ore containing 1.5% copper,3%
lead,6% Zinc and small amounts of gold and silver.
Based on these results a new shaft ( The Morris shaft )was sunk by The
Anglesey Mining Company in 1988.
An experimental processing plant was also built. This has increased the
known reserves in the mine to 6.5 million Tonnes. Further experimental
drillings are planned.
In 2008 AMC entered negotiations with
Western metals of Australia which if they succeed will result in further
investment and development of the new mining areas on the mountain.