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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Extra cobbles uncovered

In early November Charlotte carried out a watching-brief on the restoration work being carried out at the copperworks, in the area around the original entrance to the site. During the watching-brief she uncovered a short section of cobbles which would have lead down from the bridge crossing the Swansea Canal, in front of the works main gate, to the tow path running along the edge of the canal.

The cobbles looking from the canal tow path up towards the bridge.

The cobbles looking from the canal tow path up towards the bridge.

The cobbles viewed from the southeast, looking down towards the canal.

The cobbles viewed from the southeast, looking down towards the canal.

The cobbles can be seen clearly in this superb photograph of the canal and entrance to the works taken in the 1920s.

Swansea canal and the entrance to the copperworks in the 1920s. (Copyright Swansea Museum.)

Swansea canal and the entrance to the copperworks in the 1920s. (Copyright Swansea Museum.)

A view of hafod copperworks

A view of hafod copperworks

I was doing some research in the West Glamorgan Archives when I came across a delightful book by George Grant Francis, published in 1867, called ‘The melting of copper in the Swansea District’. In the book he describes all of the copperworks strung along the Lower Swansea Valley. Included with the description of the Hafod Works was this wonderful engraving. Note the canal bridge in the middle ground, this is what the cobbles we found during the excavation were leading up to!

A copper-bottomed dig

A copper-bottomed dig

I was doing a little research for our latest work at the Hafod Copperworks, when I came across this short clip from when Time Team excavated on the site.  The clip shows Professor Huw Bowen of Swansea University and Alex Pervays of Time Team discussing Morris Castle, Sir John Morris’ tenement for his copperworks, that looms over the Lower Swansea Valley.

It’s an interesting little discussion, why not watch it while your enjoying your pancakes this evening.  You could even go and visit the building and enjoy the fantastic views of the copperworks.  

 

CuSP is go!

A big thank you to everybody who came to our launch of CuSP (that’s the Copper Slag Project) on Monday night and showed so much enthusiasm for the project.

The evening started of with a cup of tea (as all good evenings should) and then Sophie spoke about last years community excavation at the Hafod Copperworks and the on going post-excavation work for the site. We hope to able to post the full report here on the blog in the next week or two, so keep your eyes peeled.  After Sophie’s talk a number of people asked some interesting questions about the project and Jan was able to impart the exciting news of a new sculpture for the area around Trench 3.  (This was the original entrance to the works by the Landore Social Club.)   Councillor White was also able to tell use a little bit about Swansea Council’s plan for the restoration of it’s historic buildings.  See the news story here: http://swansea.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=57242

After the questions Jan talked about our latest community project, the recording of copper slag which has been used as a construction material.  There was huge interest from the audience in the project and we signed up lots of new volunteers, who will soon be out recording the history of Swansea.

Jan talks about our latest community project at the launch of CuSP.

Jan talks about our latest community project at the launch of CuSP.

Chris James, one of our volunteers in the Heritage Environment Record, was in the audience for the launch.  So when he was busy working away in the HER and saw some photographs of copper slag coping blocks he knew we’d be interested.  He wasn’t wrong!  This a photograph of a section of wall on the Tennant Canal:

Copper slag coping blocks topping a section of wall on the Tennant Canal

Copper slag coping blocks topping a section of wall on the Tennant Canal

So, the photographs have started to come in, but there are still lots of sites out there.  If you know of more or would like the chance to record some of Swansea’s fascinating history why not contact Jan and get involved.

Launching the latest community work at the copperworks

Building blocks made from copper slag, in the canal wall.

Building blocks made from copper slag, in the canal wall.

 

Hello folks, I hope 2014 has being going well for you.  At GGAT we’ve been busy beavering away at putting together our latest phase of commuity archaeology work at the Hafod Copperworks – CuSP.  Otherwise known as the Copper Slag Project.  Our community archaeologist Janet will be launching the project on Monday the 17th February at 18:00 in the Hafod Community Centre.  Why not come along and see whether you’d like to take part.  Everybody will be very welcome, so come along and have a chat with Janet.

CuSP launch

 

Collecting a chemistry set

During the course of the watching-brief at the Hafod laboratory we’ve collected a cornucopia of chemistry equipment, so we thought you might like to see some of them.  Unfortuantley we haven’t been able to bring any of them back to the office because of the potential contamination.  The scale in some of the photographs is 10cm long.

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.