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 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.)
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.
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.
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 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.
Yesterday Neil carried out a watching-brief on the excavation of some trial-pits along side the Morfa Copperworks Laboratory building. A very grandiose building just up the road from where we were digging. During the course of the watching-brief Neil came across a floor surface constructed from copper slag floor tiles, with a depth of 10cm.
A floor surface made out of unusual copper slag tiles.
A close-up of one of the slag floor tiles found by Neil.
This is fairly unusual and we’ve never seen it at the Morfa Copperworks before. More usually we see copper slag blocks used as decorative copping blocks on top off stone built walls or as building blocks in more hastily constructed walls. This can be seen in the walls that line the route of the Swansea Canal, where both copper slag copping blocks and specifically squared slag blocks have been used in the fabric of the walls.
Slag blocks outlined in red within the fabric of the Swansea Canal walls. The copping blocks have slopping tops.
What else will the watching-brief turn up? Hopefull more exciting and unusual archaeology will be discovered by Neil.