For this weeks image I decided to pay a visit to an open museum that I’ve been meaning to photograph for some time. The Minera Lead Mines were a mining operation and now a country park and tourist centre in the village of Minera near Wrexham, in Wrexham County Borough, Wales.
One of the great things about going in winter is that you generally get these places to yourself and therefore don’t have anyone else walking through your photograph.
The first written record of lead mining at Minera dates back to 1296, when Edward I of England hired miners from the site to work in his new mines in Devon. Not all of them vacated the area, however, as mining went on until the Black Death in 1349, when it ended.
In 1527, two men bought the rights to mine on the site, but deeper workings were unworkable due to the presence of underground rivers, and the inability to prevent flooding. The inability to pay for steam engines to pump out water closed the mines again until 1845, when John Taylor & Sons, mining agents from Flintshire, formed the Minera Mining Company. They were able to build a stationary steam engine on site, and also blast caves from down in the valley into the mines, for extra drainage. The steam engine was a Cornish engine a Beam engine, typical for stationary steam engines at the time.
By 1900, the price of lead and zinc had fallen dramatically, while the price of coal used for the steam engine rose. The stationary steam engine stopped work in 1909. The owners sold off the mines and all assets by 1914.
The workings and local area underwent massive restoration and regeneration funded by Wrexham County Borough Council and the Welsh Development Agency beginning in 1988 to make sure the lead, Zinc and lime spoil tips didn’t contaminate local water supplies, the Engine house was rebuilt and fitted with replica machinery, as the original steam engine was removed in 1914. A visitor Centre was opened for public use, and the engine house is part of a tour. It is a site of tourism for Wrexham County Borough Council.