The Last Gold Miners

It’s been 80 years since the last Gold Miners of Dolaucothi downed tools for the very last time and our team are shining a light on their lives.

New technologies had been developed since the last Gold Mining era, and when the company became British Goldfields (No. 1) Ltd in 1937, employment rose dramatically as the labour force increased to around 200, many of whom were young men from local farms.

In the 1980’s the National Trust organisied a series of miners’ reunions and recorded their memories of the time. We’re lucky enough to still have these recordings and you can listen to them yourself during your visit today.

Most of those interviewed recalled the camaraderie they experienced, as well as the wages – much more than that of the local farming or forestry industry.

They remembered drilling through the Roman workings were wooden artefacts were recovered. 

Gwylim Price, who worked the mining machinery, waxed lyrical about using the original steam controls:

" “Nothing like steam, oh steam is so beautiful…it’s got a kind of personality”. "
- Gwylim Price

He also spoke about the bonus scheme which paid the miners on the footage that they drilled.  To the miners, this was an incentive to earn more money, but in the process their health was sacrificed. To speed up the results, they stopped using the water to dampen the dust caused by drilling; this caused many of the workers to suffer with Silicosis.

Sales of gold and ore in the last two years of work mounted to £15,877 but the costs were upwards of £48,000. No British treatment works would deal with what was a relatively small tonnage of ore and in 1938, with war looming, a contract with a firm in Hamberg was considered too risky.

The following year, the buildings at Dolaucothi were dismantled, the 500lbs of weeping explosives that were left at the site was blown up and all the machinery was put up for sale. The advert in the Western Mail read: “Mostly new 1937. Worked approximately 12 months”.

After 2,000 years of Gold Mining at the site, from the Roman era, Victorian and Edwardian period and the 1930s, Dolaucothi Gold Mines was abandoned once again.

Join us at Dolaucothi Gold Mines to discover more about the history of Gold Mining in Wales.