History

Mining on the Solva coast

Dinas Fawr - the mines were to the right of the image © Sid Howells

Dinas Fawr - the mines were to the right of the image

There was an ancient lead and copper mine behind the headland of Dinas Fawr. They dug for lead and copper ores in mineral veins. The lead ore contained small amounts of silver. There is written evidence of mine working from about 1528 (although the mine is much older). There was some mining over the next 200 years, and there’s also evidence of open cast mining along the cliffs. They tried to reopen the mine in Victorian times, and it’s possible it finally closed when a wall was breached causing a flood. You'll find the remains of a copper mine in a spectacular location further along the coast at Treginnis, near St David's.

Wrecks, lighthouses, lighthouse keepers...

A wrecking coast - west of Solva

A wrecking coast - west of Solva

There have been many wrecks along this treacherous coast, and there’s a fine tradition of smuggling. The 'Phoebe and Peggy', bound from Philadelphia to Liverpool, was wrecked in 1776 close to the entrance to Solva harbour.

All the ship’s company were lost along with several Solva boatmen who were trying to rescue them. Bodies washed ashore were, however, stripped and robbed.

The original lighthouse for the Smalls, a dangerous reef 24 miles out to sea, was built of wood in Solva in 1776 and towed out into position on a barge. There were originally two lighthouse keepers.

In 1801 one of them died in a freak accident. Fearing he might be accused of murder the survivor had to lash the body to the structure to keep it until the next relief boat arrived. From then on there have always been three  lighthouse keepers on lighthouses.

 

Nine Wells Valley

Nine Wells Valley © Andrew Tuddenham

The Nine Wells Valley is named after the nine natural springs which once supplied Solva. The valley contained a corn and cloth mill until its closure in 1915.

Porth y Rhaw - fort and fossils

Porth y Rhaw fort © Sid Howells

Porth y Rhaw at the end of the valley is a fine Iron Age coastal fort. Its ancient Cambrian rocks are much eroded by the sea, and have yielded important fossil finds in the past.

Mills at Porth y Rhaw

The old mill buildings © Sid Howells


There was a corn mill and a cloth mill at Porth y Rhaw. Both were still in use 100 years ago. Dye for the cloth mill was delivered every year by a small steamer.

St Elvis and St Teilo

  • St Elvis Farm is on the site of the UK's smallest parish
  • St Teilo's Church which stood here was demolished in the 19th century
  • Its stones were re-used in the present farm buildings
  • One of its stone crosses was taken to Solva church
  • The last funeral here was for a sailor washed up on the shore
  • The last wedding here was in 1836
  • The church's gold plate and cross have been missing since then
  • St Elvis, the Preseli Hills - can it possibly be?
  • Yes, Elvis Presley may well have had Welsh roots...

St David's Airfield

St David's Airfield in 1992

St David's Airfield in 1992

You’re only a mile from St. David's Airfield which was an active military airfield from 1943 to 1960. It was one of eight airfields built in Pembrokeshire between 1939 and 1945.

St David’s airfield had three runways, a control tower and three corrugated iron hangars. You can still see the foundations of stores and a battery charging room at nearby Waun Fachelich common. There was a bomb store site on Waun Llandruidion, now part of the waste recycling centre.

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