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Heritage

 

The Heritage of the Waterwheel at Llanerch-y-Morrsz_heritage_image

Records show that a lead smelting works operated at Llanerch-y-Mor as far back as 1684. The works were known as the Llanerch-y-Mor Smelter or Holywell Smelter. In the 17th century smelting was done using charcoal as fuel and lead was sent by sea to London hence it’s location next to a small dock on the Dee Estuary. The London Lead Company opened a coal driven reverberation furnace in nearby Bagillt in 1703 and by 1750 the site at Llanerch-y-Mor was extended and similar furnaces introduced.

By the 19th century the Llanerch-y-Mor site was owned by North Wales Lead Works Company and around 1848 the building that we see today was built. This was a boom time for local lead companies and it is estimated that more than a quarter of lead in the United Kingdom was brought to Flintshire for smelting at Bagillt, Flint and Llanerch-y-Mor. Lead ore was brought from local Halkyn mines by horse and cart whilst additional supplies came by boat and the Llanerch-y-Mor lead around the middle of the 19th century was exclusively for the Manchester market.

A large lake, sited in the elevated grounds of the house opposite the works, just behind the brickworks chimney, (still to be seen amongst the trees) provided the works with power via the water which entered a tunnel running beneath the road and under a sizable waterwheel affixed to the side of a stone built elevation, which converted the energy generated by the waterwheel. It is claimed that this waterwheel was an exact full size replica of the Laxey Wheel on the Isle of Man and was built by the same manufacturer. The wheel chamber has been retained and is located on-site.

Built by Ellis Evans from neighbouring Greenfield the 60ft diameter (18.3m) waterwheel pit, used to drive machinery was itself driven from water siphoned from the large holding pond across the Coast Road. Although unfortunately the wheel and part of the supporting structures, together with the reverberation furnaces are long since demolished the wheel-race and adjacent supporting wall still remain as you can see.

During the last war the works were taken over by the Ministry of Supply and after consultation with the Darwen and Mostyn Ironworks a ferro-manganese plant was set up using the Alumino-Thermal process. Sources of ferro-manganese had dried up early in the war due to the occupation of Norway by Germany in 1940 when the Norwegian supply line was interrupted, thus the works became an important cog of the war machine.

It was in the 1950’s that a gigantic fire took hold of the factory, having started in a dump of aluminium filings. The dump, which also contained manganese waste, was in the long building (100ft x 30ft) which is by the main road. The blaze became so fierce that it engulfed the whole building and in less than half an hour the roof had collapsed. The main road had to be closed for some time as there was a strong danger that the whole side of the building would collapse into the road. The blaze was tackled by fire brigades from Holywell, Prestatyn, Flint and Connahs Quay. The flames were so fierce that they could not be extinguished and the brigades concentrated their efforts on preventing further spread of the flames, particularly to a large tank containing 5,000 gallons of oil.

The works proved to be viable until 1955 when it was forced to close due to competition from another war-time foe, Japan, who could supply the same product at several pounds per ton less than it could be produced at Llanerch-y-Mor. At the time of closure, the average wage paid to an unskilled worker here was £6.10s (£6.50p) per week. The Ministry of Supply gave up the unequal struggle and following a short tenure by Allen Tube Cutters, the property was acquired in a very run down condition by Michael Abakhan Ltd., who have transformed the existing buildings and added new ones to emphasise the industrial heritage of the site as you see it today. The considerable investment and attention to detail was rewarded when the company won the ‘Prince of Wales Award’ in 1988 in recognition of “The Renovation of the Mill Shop, Llanerch-y-Mor”. The award was presented to Nick Abakhan by the Prince of Wales in Cardiff.

This brief history was compiled by the late local historian; Anthony Lewis Jones of Mostyn.

Mae’r cofnodion yn dangos fod yna weithfeydd mwyndoddi yn Llannerch-y-môr ers 1684. Galwyd nhw yn Fwyndoddydd Llannerch -y-môr neu Fwyndoddydd Treffynnon. Yn yr ail ganrif ar bymtheg defnyddid golosg fel tanwydd ar gyfer mwyndoddi ac anfonwyd plwm wedyn i Lundain, ac dyna pam yr oedd wedi ei leoli wrth ochr doc bychan ar aber Afon Dyfrdwy. Agorodd Cwmni Plwm Llundain ffwrnais adlewyrchol glo ym Magollt yn 1703 ac erbyn 1750 roedd Llannerch-y-môr wedi ei ehangu a chyflwynwyd ffwrneisi eraill cyffelyb.

Erbyn bedwaredd ganrif ar bmytheg roedd y lleoliad yn perthyn i’r Cwmni North Wales Lead Works a thua 1848 codwyd yr adeilad a welir heddiw. Roedd hwn yn gyfnod o lewyrch i gwmnïau plwm lleol ac amcangyfrifir fod mwy na chwarter plwm y Deyrnas Gyfunol yn cael ei ddwyn i Sir y Fflint i gael ei doddi ym Magillt a Llannerch-y-môr.

Deuid â phlwm craidd o’r mwynfeydd lleol yn Helygain ar gart a cheffyl a rhagor yn cyrraedd mewn cychod, ac erbyn tua chanol y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg roedd y gweithfeydd yn gweithio bron yn llwyr ar gyfer marchnad Manceinion. Cynhyrchid pwer trwy ddwr o lyn mawr ar fryn yn y tir uwchben y ty gyferbyn â’r gweithfeydd a thu ôl i simnai’r gwaith brics (sy’n dal yno ymysg y coed). Deuai’r dwr trwy dwnnel yn rhedeg o dan y ffordd fawr a than olwyn ddwr yn sownd wrth godiad carreg. Trwy rym y dwr cynhyrchid trydan gan yr olwyn, a oedd yr union yr un faint a ffurf â’r Olwyn Laxey ar Ynys Manaw ag a adeiladwyd gan yr un cynhyrchwr. Mae siambr yr olwyn yn dal yno ar y lleoliad.

Yn ystod y rhyfel diwethaf cymerwyd y gweithfeydd drosodd gan y Weinyddiaeth Gyflenwi ac ar ôl trafodaeth gyda Gweithfeydd Haearn Darwen a Mostyn sefydlwyd gwaith ferro-manganes, gan ddefnyddio’r broses Alumino-Thermal. Roedd ffynonellau ferro-manganes wedi pallu yn gynnar yn ystod y rhyfel oherwydd fod yr Almaenwyr wedi meddiannu Norwy yn 1940, gan amharu ar y drafnidiaeth honno. Felly daeth y gweithfeydd hyn yn ddant olwyn holl bwysig yn y peiriant rhyfel.

Yn 1950 cafwyd tân enfawr yn y ffatri, wedi cychwyn mewn tomen o naddion alwminiwm. Roedd y domen yn dal gwastraff manganes yn ogystal, ac wedi ei leoli yn yr adeilad hir (100tr x 30tr) sydd gerllaw’r brif ffordd. Roedd y tân mor wyllt nes iddo feddiannu’r holl adeilad ac mewn llai nag hanner awr fe ddymchwelodd y to. Bu raid cau’r brif ffordd am gyfnod gan fod perygl i i ochr yr adeilad gwympo i’r ffordd fawr. Daeth brigadau tân o Dreffynnon, Prestatyn, Fflint a Chei Conna i geisio rheoli’r goelcerth ond roedd yn drech na nhw, a bu rai cyfyngu eu hymdrechion i atal y tân rhag ymledu, yn enwedig i danc mawr yn cynnwys 5,000 galwyn o olew.

Daliodd y gwaith i dalu’i ffordd hyd 1955 pan fu raid ei gau oherwydd cystadleuaeth o du gelyn arall yn y rhyfel, sef Siapan, oedd yn medru cynnig yr un cynnyrch am bris punnau lawer yn llai na’r gost yn Llannerch-y-môr. Adeg y cau, roedd cyfartaledd cyflog a delid I weithiwr di-grefft tua £6.10s (£6.50c) yr wythnos. Penderfynodd yWeinyddiaeth Gyflenwi roi’r gorau i’r cystadlu anghyfartal ac ar ôl cyfnod byr dan gwmni Allen Tube Cutters, prynwyd yr eiddo bregus gan Michael Abakhan, Cyf., sydd wedi trawsnewid yr adeiladau presennol gan ategu atyn nhw rai newydd i bwysleisio treftadaeth ddiwydiannol y lleoliad fel y gwelir heddiw. Daeth bri ar y buddsoddi helaeth a’r ymroddiad i fanylion pan enillodd y cymni Wobr Tywysog Cymru yn 1988 ar gyfer ‘Adferiad Llannerch-y-môr’. Cyflwynwyd y wobr i Nick Abakhan gan Dywysog Cymru yng Nghaerdydd.

Lluniwyd yr hanes byr hwn gan yr hanesydd lleol, Anthony Lewis Jones o Mostyn.

This project was supported with grant aid from the Welsh Government / Derbyniodd y prosiect yma gymorth grant gan Lywodraeth Cymru.