High winds stop work

One of the internal walls of the laboratory partially collasped during the reccent high winds.

One of the internal walls of the laboratory partially collasped during the reccent high winds.

Unfortuantley the reccent storms and strong winds have meant that we’ve not been able to do much work during the last couple of weeks.  When Charlotte went into the laboratory today, she discovered that one of the walls had partially fallen down during the weekends bad weather.

Good job there was nobody under it when it did! We hope that Mother Nature will be kind in the next few days and enable us to do more work.

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Where Waters Meet: on the opposite bank

On the second day of the Where Waters Meet conference I went to an interesting workshop organised by Kate Spiller (once a GGAT archaeologist, now moved onto bigger things with Swansea University). While Kate has helped to organise lots of community projects around the city, of particular interest to me was the oral history project she is helping to run on the Hafod’s sister works, The White Rock Copperworks.

The White Rock works are located just across the river from the Hafod works and were opened 70 years earlier in 1736. Unfortunately Kate’s project doesn’t have the same access to funds as the regeneration programme at the Hafod works, but it’s incredible what you can achieve with a little bit of money and lot of enthusiasm and hard work.

The project is collecting oral histories from the surrounding community, which they intend to make publicly accessible using information boards and QR tags. Creating a history trail that will lead you round the site of the old works. Have a look at their website:

http://swanseavalleyhistory.com/?page_id=259

Once these two copperworks were rivals, but together hopefully they can help regenerate the Lower Swansea valley.

Sophie meets the CBA

Sophie preparing sites drawings

Are you busy tomorrow afternoon? If not why not come along to the Council for British Archaeology, Wales’ meeting in Welshpool. Where Sophie will be talking about the Hafod and Morfa Copperworks. She’ll tell you a little bit of history, what we’ve just done, what we’re doing now and what we hope to do in the future.

So come along and find out all about our exciting plans, for your copperworks!

Where waters meet

Yesterday Professor Huw Bowen gave an excellent paper at the Where Waters Meet conference in Swansea on the copperworks. His two most salient points were:

1) Swansea was, in his opinion, the first industrialised town in the world. Where more people worked in manufacturing and associated industries than in agriculture.

2) Swansea’s copper industry was the first globally integrated industry in the word with raw materials being imported into Swansea from Spain, Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, South Africa, Australia and North America. While finished products where exported as far a field as India.

Hopefully the copperworking area can be regenerated soon to show just how important and outward looking it really was.

The lab makes the post

On Friday the renovation work on the Morfa Copperworks laboratory made the news in the Swansea Evening Post.  Make sure you watch the cracking computer generated fly-through of the copperworks, it really gives you a feel for how the site would have looked when it is was running.

http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/New-life-200-year-old-copper-lab-power-house/story-19921437-detail/story.html#axzz2hod6hKsP

Lab work

Last week Charlotte and I started the watching-brief on the clearance of the inside of the Morfa Copperworks laboratory. This is the first of the buildings to be prepared for renovation across the combined copperworks site. Unfortunately, we had to start with the laboratory because it is in a fairly poor state of repair, after a near catastrophic fire and the structural engineers were concerned it might fall down. This means that the debris from inside the building needs to be cleaned out, so that scaffolding can be put up to stop this from happening.

Having said that the Grade II Listed laboratory (LB 11690) is probably the prettiest building, architecturally, still standing at the copperworks. Built in the mid-19th century it has amongst other things a beautiful moulded cornice and frieze band (that’s the part of the wall directly below the eaves) in bath stone. When Taliesin Conservation, the company doing the renovation, looked at the cornices they discovered that blocks of stone were held in place by nothing more than their own weight and the pressure of the eaves above them! No wonder two of them had fallen down.

During the watching-brief we hope to find some of the equipment that the scientists would have used in the laboratory. As well as trying to get an idea of how the inside of the building was decorated.

On the first day we started to get a hint of this when a series of nice white glazed bricks, with rounded edges, were recovered from inside the first room. We think that these formed a partition wall somewhere further into the building. These bricks had a dual purpose as not only did they look nice, they were easy to clean in case of any chemical spills.

This is the remains of the laboratory roof, before Taliesin dismantled it, to give us access to the inside of the building.

This is the remains of the laboratory roof, before Taliesin dismantled it, to give us access to the inside of the building.

This is the roof of the Powerhouse, taken from the scaffolding around the laboratory.  This building used to house the steam engines that powered the copperworks and will be renovated soon.

This is the roof of the Powerhouse, taken from the scaffolding around the laboratory. This building used to house the steam engines that powered the copperworks and will be renovated soon.

The school building survey

While we’ve been away Jan has been helping the school children of the Dylon Thomas Community School to stitch together the photographs taken during their building survey. This is western side of the Swansea Canal wall, which had been converted into a series of offices and small buildings for the Copperworks. Looks excellent if you ask me!

A total of five photographs were stitched together by the pupils of the Dylon Thomas Community School for this photograph.

A total of five photographs were stitched together by the pupils of the Dylon Thomas Community School for this photograph.

If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in morning.

Today our small tools expert finished his report for us, so we do have a hammer! This is the only find that was recovered from Trench 2 before we had to abandon it and is the only find from the site directly related to metal working.

Richard’s report states that this is a double cross peen hammer head (this means it has two triangular heads set at 90 degrees to each other) mounted on a tubular metal shaft. Double cross peen hammers are used by metal workers and engineers and are often called engineers hammers. They are often used during forging, where the cross peen is used to make the hot metal stretch and for activities such as riveting, where the cross peen is useful for spreading or “peening” rivet heads, and sheet metal working.

It’s really nice to have a find that actually relates to the copperworks, hopefully when we come back to dig again (fingers crossed) we can find some more metal-working finds.

A peening hammer recovered from Trench 2.

A peening hammer recovered from Trench 2.

The Post-excavation assessment

After a short break we’re back. So what have we being doing while we’ve been off the air? Well, Charlotte and I have been working on the Post-excavation assessment for the site, this is where we send all of our finds of too specialists, prepare the most important site plans for illustration and construct a basic narrative for the site. By the end of the proccess we hopefully start to get an idea of what happened, when and why.

This morning our glass specialist, Rowena (some of you might recognise her as one our surveyors as well), finished her report on the glass assemblage. The most interesting piece she reported on was this:

An almost-complete glass battery rest insulator was recovered from context 3004. This was manufactured by the Kilner Brothers glass works in Thornhill Lees, Dewsbury. The works was founded in 1848 by John Kilner on the site of an existing glass works. The upper surface of the insulator retains the following embossed name:

‘..R BROTHERS…DEWSBURY…’.

The underside shows a pontil scar. It is thought that these insulators supported the legs of large battery storage containers used to provide DC power to early telegraph curcuits and railway signals.

We hope to have the assessment completed soon, followed by the finished report.