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Dyffryn Tanat and Region Development Trust
Chairman Ken Owen QGM
Consultant David Higman MBE

Short Industrial History of Oswestry Area

The area around Oswestry has in the past been at the forefront of industrial heritage in the Welsh Borderland, seeing the development of local coal mines, canal systems, railways, tramlines and mills. These industrial sites run from Llanyblodwel, south-west of Oswestry itself, through to Queens Head. From the early 1800s onwards, this area of great industrial activity encompassed communities such as Nantmawr, Porthywaen, Llynclys, Dolgoch, Sweeney, Weston and Maesbury.

As early as the 1870's, the area around Porthywaen saw the quarrying of lime in about ten quarries which between them employed several hundred people. On the quarry sites, tramways of various gauges took the lime to both the Cambrian Railways network and to Crickheath, which itself joined the Montgomery Canal system. On Sweeney Mountain, an upland area in Oswestry Rural parish, numerous coal workings were opened and probably employed in the region of 300 men. These early mines - really just bell pits - were also connected to the canal system by tramway or standard-gauge railway. When some of the mines became flooded, their owners turned instead to brick making. In the Morda valley, on the outskirts of Oswestry, mills were established to take advantage of the River Morda, which flows south to join the Vyrnwy near Haughton. These mills were used to grind corn for flour, and to manufacture textiles, paper and animal products.
Date(s) Event
1710 Llanyblodwel stone bridge replacing an earlier bridge constructed around 1684
1719 First school called The Blodwel Charity School stood over the vestry at the west end of the north aisle of the church inscription on the stone built into the west wall was errected A.D.1710. The school master resided in an upper room until 1828 when the roof became unsafe. He was put in residence at a cottage called Bridge House some teaching was carried out while repairs took place.
1780 c1780-90 Llwynymaen Colliers
1780 1780-90 Trefarelawdd collieries known as Sir Watkins collieries.
1790 Trefardawdd Collieries thought to have worked in the area for approx 100 years when the last of these pits closed in 1891.
1792 Trefarclawdd Collieries approx six pits on both sides of the Trefonen Rd.
1797 Montgomeryshire Canal completed.
1798 Llanyblodwel Church vicar James Donne MA He restored the Church and altered the seating arrangements in 1812.
1811 Lease for extraction and burning of limestone was granted by the Hon. Thomas Kenyon of Pradoe Shropshire to David Jones of Llanymynech lime burner for fourteen years. Limestone quarry in the township of Llynclys and to erect kilns.
1815 Tynycoed pit was in operation also a brick works operated. A row of cottages was known as Pottery Row.These products were highly recommended.
1820 First railroad built to serve the Porthywaen Quarries known as Porthywaen Iron Rail Way built under powers contained in the Montgomeryshire Canal Act of 1794 gauge 3ft. This line ran from the wharf on the canal at Crickheath and was approx 2 and a half miles long.
1827 Copper mined between 1827-65 on the Pradoe estate of the Kenyon family . Mine also known as West Felton,Long Lane or Rednal.
1830 Llwynymaen Colliery closed due to flooding in 1840.
1833 Coed-Y-Go coal pit opened and closed during the 1850 period.
1833 Penyllan collieries sunk by Edward Croxon & Co. trading as Leach & Croxon.
1836 The Drill Colliery known as Gronwen was sunk and worked by Croxon at Morda. Later bricks were made from the clay.
1839 Porthywaen School opened.for 100 children.Land leased from the earl of Powys for 99 years at a rent of 2s 6d per year. During the 1950s period school trips went to New Brighton, Llandudno or Rhyl. Christmas parties were looked forward to and Steetley quarries gave the school a Christmas tree and presents and at times donations.Closed 1984
1844 Llanyblodwel Church vicar John Parker MA. It was John Parker who built the church spire and day school.
1845 George Rogers Workings 1845-50.
1850 J.A. Lloyd Workings.
1857 Llanyblodwel Church of England School was completed. Closed 1948/9.
1859 Llanyblodwel Church of England School for 100 children was completed. Land given by the Earl of Bradford. School closed 1948/9.
1860 The Nantmawr quarry was owned by R S France He was a contractor for both the PS& NWR and the Mawddwy Railway. At around this time the Lilleshall company of Donnington Shropshire was having trouble in maintaining supplies of lime for fluxing at its iron furnaces and took a lease on the Nantmawr quarry. By 1920s the lease was surrendered probably during the depression when the company ceased manufacturing iron and steel.
1860 Sale of trees at Whithaven quarry Nr Porthywaen.
1860 Re developed a new tramway between two quarries.
1860 New British Colliery 1860-69.
1860 Drill Colliery 1860-79.
1860s Operation of the Porthywaen Lime Co. Thomas Savin the Mid Wales entrepreneur was one of the directors, the company also had workings at Llanymynech. The company had an office situated at Llynclys by the White Lion Inn. Letter head stated Porthywaen and Llanymynech Lime and Limestone Works Savin & Co.
1861 Roberts says 3 tons of stone makes 30 bushels of lime which weighs 2 tons long weight.
1861 Coopers Rock trading as Savin & Company by 1862 ceased trading.
1861 May Arrival of the railway named Porthywaen Junction. to serve the limestone quarry. It ran from a Junction called Porthywaen Junction but was renamed Llynclys Junction when TVLR open just north of Llynclys station. The branch line ran for approx 1 miles to the lime kilns at Porthywaen and serviced other quarries on route.
1861 Road bridge built at Porthywaen over the RailwayTramline. Iron girders stamped Brymbo.
1861 Savin wish to rent quarries at Porth-y-waen at 250 per year?
1863 Thomas Savin opened a railway line to the coal pits at Coed-y-Go near Morda. Line closed 1869 length 2 miles.
1863 Croxons & Co. Coal & Lime masters. Sweeney,Drill Works & Morton Oswestry.
1864 Coed-Y-Go Colliery 1864-69.
1865 Porth-y-waen Methodist Church was built.
1867 January 9th Edward JONES, Porthywaen, Lime burner was charged at Oswestry Court (Sgt Duncan) with being drunk in Leg Street. When taken to the Lock-up, 71.9s.8d (worth over 3000 nowadays) was found on him. When apprehended there were several suspicious characters about him and if the police had been a little later, he would no doubt have been robbed. The Mayor, in fining him 2s.6p & costs, told him he ought to feel obliged to the police.
1868 Savin went bankrupt owing 3.5 million?
1869 Old Trefonen Colliery 1869-80.
1870 The quarries at Porthywaen and Llanymynech suffered a shortage of wagons due to the Cambrian being unable to supply the required quantity. Savin & Co hired fifty wagons for a brief period from the PS & NWR. The Cambrian Railways demanded the right to inspect these wagons to see if they were fit to run on the Cambrian line.
1871 Savin & Co were again negotiating with the PS & NWR to hire more wagons. One of the conditions of hire was that the quarry company used the PS & NWR line between Llanymynech and Shrewsbury to carry their output to the Midlands. Protest was made to the Cambrian company about failure to do the shunting of wagons into the quarry as requested or no shunting being made at all this might have had a bearing on the tracks condition. This also might have had a bearing on the derailment of a Cambrian engine due to the poor state of line. Cambrian requested improvements to be carried out.
1872 The Oswestry Coal and Brick Company Ltd purchased Sweeney Brick Works.
1873 Coopers Quarry Explosion by which 4 men and 2 boys lost their lives May 30th.
1876 An agreement between The Cambrian Railways Company and Mrs. M. E. Williams as to construction and working of sidings at Porthywaen dated 20th April 1876.
1880 New Trefonen Colliery 1880-91 Closed due to flooding
1880 Tramway built between the works and clay pit at the Sweeney Blue Brick and Terra Cotta Company Ltd.
1885 F. Dunford Manager of Savin & Co office at Llynclys (Kellys Directory).
1885 George Dyke - licencee of Red Lion Porthywaen (Kellys Directory )
1890 Llanddu and Blodwell quarries were started by the Earl of Bradford which produced stone known as granite.
1890 Dolgoch Quarry operating R H Kenyon Pradoe.
1891 Last coalfield closed The New Trefonen Colliery.
1892 Mr William Lloyd ran the Horseshoe Inn and also the Blacksmith.
1892 New Welsh Wesleyan Chapel built up Turners Lane Llynclys Nr Oswestry..Under the care of Rev. T. C. Roberts of Oswestry. Service conducted in Welsh.
1893 Committee of Management of Schools in the Parish of Llanyblodwel Chairman Rev. Ellis Owen and his deputy Mr Ellis.
1894 Plans are discussed for a School House at Porthywaen School.
1896 Savin & Co had by now absorbed small companies or they went out of business. Captain Nicholson formed the Porthywaen Lime Co. At this time the company was leasing the Dolgoch Quarry near Llynclys but did not renew the lease when it fell due in 1896. The quarry plant and sidings were removed. Crickheath tramway track re-laid 1896 and used until 1914 or 1926? Porthywaen Lime Co was leasing Dolgoch quarry from R.L.I.Kenyon of Pradoe West Felton.
1897 The Porthywaen Lime Co. was looking for some suitable canal boats and were offered two Stag and Cupid for 28.
1899 12th September the first sod of soil for the Tanat Valley Light Railway was cut in a field near the school. The Countess of Powys performed the cutting of the sod.
1899 An agreement between The Cambrian Railways Company and the Sweeney blue Brick and Terra Cotta Company Ltd for a railway line from Weston Wharf to the Blue Brick Company at Sweeney.
1900 The Porthywaen Lime and Basic Co. Ltd was formed. Over the years other subsidiary companies came to have offices at Porthywaen. Among these were the Whitehaven Basic Co. Ltd and the Welshpool Standard Granite Co. Ltd.
1900s Rock quarried was calcium limestone which was burnt in the kilns. At the beginning of the century Dolomite limestone was found to be a valuable ingredient in steel making because of its magnesium content. The stone was burnt in cupolas before transported to steelworks in North Wales by rail.
1901 The Cattle Pound at Llanyblodwel was in use.
1901 There was a Post Office at the road junction leading down into Llanyblodwel village.
1901 The Cambrian Railway signed an agreement with John Richards to construct a new siding at Dolgoch.
1901 Runaway horses attached to a wagon damaged the school wall at Porthywaen. The contractors agreed to repair the wall.
1904 5th January a special train carrying officials and guests stopped at Porthywaen level crossing where gates were secured by a silver padlock. The Lady Williams Wynn performed the opening ceremony by unlocking the silver padlock with a gold key.
1904 January 5th The Tanat Valley Railway was opened by Dowager Lady Wynn of Llangedwyn at Porthywaen
1906 New Welsh Wesleyan Chapel built at Dolgoch for 640 with 30 members.
1908 Photograph of Porthywaen village shop. This shop was owned by the Lewis brothers who made local deliveries by horse and trap,bread was collected from Tudors of Morda. Next door was a pub named the Sun with another pub called the Ivy or Butchers Arms or even The Sycamore. Later years the shop was owned by Jones the butcher appox 1950/60s.
1909 Llanddu and Blodwell quarries were operated by the Tanat Valley Granite Co. and just before the Great War the Ceirioig Granite Co had taken over. The works became British Quarrying Company
1911 An agreement to form a new company The Sweeney (Oswestry) Brick Company Ltd .Dated 25th September 1911.
1911 An agreement between the Cambrian Railways Company and The Porthywaen Lime Company Ltd for siding workings at Porthywaen.
1912 (circa) The Llynclys Lime Works Ltd ?
1920-40 A shoe repairer called Tom Grafton lived at Sycamore cottage just under the railway bridge at Porthywaen leading into the quarry
1921 The Institute Hall between Llanyblodwel and Porthywaen was opened. A wooden shed which stood on the site from Llynclys hill was taken down and erected on the wharf at Porthywaen near the Nuttree Farm.
1922 Llanyblodwel Choral Society.
1924 Builders & Scabby Reds Quarries operating by Edwin Vaughan from D. Jones. Possibly closed 1925- 1930.
1926 Welsh chapel Dolgoch was operating at this time. Opposite the White Lion Llynclys Cross Roads an earlier P.O. was sited across the Oswestry- Welshpool road in a field moving again onto a site near the White Lion moving again across the road from the White Lion to a site opposite on the corner of the cross road.
1926 Map shows a Post .Offfice. near the White Lion Llynclys Cross Roads.
1926 Steam wagon hauling stones from the quarry was hit by a train on Porthywaen railway crossings. The driver and mate suffered scalding but survived.
1930-40 The Red Lion building now a garage was used as a Skittle Alley.
1932 The Porthywaen Lime Company was taken over by the Steetley Lime and Building Stone Co of Worksop renamed as the Steetley Lime and basic Co.
1932 After the 1932 takeover the company expanded the output from Porthywaen. New plant was installed including a 4ft gauge railway into the Whitehaven Quarry.
1932 An agreement between The Great Western Railway Cmpany and Steetley Lime and Basic Company Ltd for the repair and maintenance of the junction sidings at Porthywaen.
1933 Len Evans and Douglas Lloyd started meeting together playing musical instruments which was to be later formed into the Porthywaen Band .
1934 Porthywaen Band formed. First as a Brass band becoming a Silver Band in future years.
1937 Llanyblodwel Church vicar John Grenwood M. A.. He restored the Church in 1945
1938 Nantmawr quarry was being worked by the Chirk Castle Lime and Stone Co. Ltd. Late 1960s Amey Roadstone had taken over the quarry and closed it about 1977.
1939-45 WW11 Approx 300 men worked the quarries drafted in as a priority over service. A Mary Carswell had an accident falling from a truck near the crossing at Porthywaen from which she died.
1940 A shoe repairer called Tom Grafton lived at Sycamore cottage just under the railway bridge leading into the quarry at Porthywaen.
1941 Airplane Crashed in a field near Dolgoch in October.
1944 The Steetley Lime and Basic Company changed its name to Steetley Company Limited.
1949 Porthywaen village shop closed.
1950 Weigh Bridge opposite the band hall Porthywaen known as the Wharf
1950 At Glan Evaen a Blacksmith shop operated By Jack Owen..
1950s The Steetley company began to diversify into new products for agriculture and the construction industry. Within the quarry the 4ft gauge railway was abandoned in favour of dumper trucks.
1951 Remaining passenger services were withdrawn.
1951 Porthywaen football team was formed by Mr Jack Evans, the team played in the Shropshire Leaque. The playing field was behind the Red Lion Garage Porthywaen. Closed 1951
1954 Wilfred Jones demolished various sheds on the old village site, at Porthywaen.
1955 Llanyblodwel Institute Eisteddfod Nov.4th
1956 Mr Wilfred Jones opened a village butcher shop.
1958 Decision taken to build a hall suitable for the Porthywaen Band public functions. The band played in a building called the blue shed and at some time after played at the butchers. In March of this year Mr.J.Casewell offered a site to the band.
1959 Llynclys Post Office opposite Llynclys Farm was operated by Mrs Williams and her daughter Shirley.
1959-1969 Llanyblodwel Church Lawn Tennis Court.
1960 Summer Victorian restoration work inside the church at Llanyblodwel.
1960s It seems that railway transportation had ceased by now. Late 1960s Nantmawr quarry was taken over by Amey Roadstone. 1960s Amalgamated Roadstone closed the quarry about 1977.
1962 Lime kilns at Porthywaen were closed down in favour of new rotary kilns in Whitehaven quarry.
1963 Llanyblodwel Horseshoe Inn and cottages nearby were flooded.
1964 Porth-y-waen Band hall official opening 10th April.
1965 Fire at the Pay House Porthywaen.
1965 The licensee at the Red Lion was Mr & Mrs John and Wendy Williams.
1966 On 28th December the last day of operation for the company D & J Gittins. One of the first buses Gittins operated was a Vulcan. They also ran a lorry in the early days for coal and converted it for passengers on Wednesdays.
1970s Road up by the Steetly quarries was closed to the public.
1977 Headmaster at Porthywaen was Mr Johnson.
1979 Porthywaen school possible closure discussed April.
1980 (circa) New housing build on Dolgoch Welsh Church site.
1981 Talk about Porthywaen school amalgamation with Trefonen school parents not happy.
1981 Connie Wilson was postmaster Llanyblodwel Post Office in the Old School
1983 School meeting state that the New School at Pant should be ready by Easter 1984
1984 Mr & Mrs John Williams retired as licensees from the Red Lion.
1984 Welsh Wesleyan Chapel closed.
1984 Porthywaen celebrated its 150th year when people dressed up.
1987 Porthywaen Old School was up for sale 19/6/87
1991 Llanyblodwel School converted to a house was for sale 13/4/91 The building was converted to a house several years before 1991.
1992 Change of ownership to Redland. Recently changed to Lefarge.
1996 The last service at Porthywaen Methodist church 4th August 1996.
2000 October this year the Tanat flooded to the highest ever recorded.
Pending On the quarry hillside was a gunpowder house. Mr Billy Owen was the powder monkey who lived at Nantmawr.
Pending Porthywaen stationmaster was Mr Charley Roberts.
Pending At Blodwel Junction station Mr Roberts worked.
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