The end product of the copperworks

Back in the summer I took the opportunity for a trip on the Tawe river cruise, which was fantastic fun.  If you get the chance you should take a ride, it’s a really interesting way to see a different side of the city.

The Tawe river cruiser noses her way up stream.

The Tawe river cruiser noses her way up stream.

On the journey back the crew showed us a number of artifacts associated with the copperworks.  The most interesting of these to my way of thinking was one of the copper ingots, which would have formed the primary output of the Hafod Copperworks from the mid-18th century to the late-19th century, when it was owned by Vivian and Sons.

The ingot is lozenge shaped and divided into three peaks.  The central peak of which is stamped ‘V & S \ A’.  This particular ingot was recovered from the wreck of the Benamain, located some seven miles of Mumbles Head.  The Benamain was a London registered steam powered cargo ship.  Her final voyage took place on 28th March 1890, when she was bound for le Treport with a cargo that included 50 tons of copper ingots from Vivian and Sons.  On the afternoon of the 28th March she was steaming at six knots when she became stranded on the eastern side of Lundy in the fog.  She was refloated the following morning but floundered on her way back to Swansea.  Her crew was recovered by the pilot cutter Rival and the Benamain was left to sink.

A Vivian and Sons copper ingot recovered from the briny deep.

A Vivian and Sons copper ingot recovered from the briny deep.

Happily we didn’t have such an eventful voyage!

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