Rising high above the site our Chimney stack played a key role in controlling air flow and therefore the temperature of the furnaces in the 19th Century tinplate works. Over the years it has been exposed to the elements year round and can be damaged by the ingress of water which expands and contracts particularly when it’s cold and icy pushing out the mortar and causing the bricks to fragment.
Because of this we keep a close eye on deterioration of this structure with a five yearly building survey- one done recently has identified large area which have been damaged by frost etc. Our National Trust building surveyors, archaeologist and curator are working together to plan building work to help preserve this structure for the future. This is likely to involve re-pointing large sections of the chimney with traditional lime mortar and replacing some of the damaged bricks which we suspect to be special local ‘Dina’s Firebricks’ made just up the road in Pontneddfechan around the time our chimney was built and exported all over the world.
We have sent of samples of the brick for analysis to find confirm if they are ‘Dina’s Firebricks’. We then hope we will be able to find enough of this type of brick loose around the site to recycle for the repairs.
We’ve tackled the problem of a large tree stump within one of the building which we want to remove so the builders can fix up the wall behind it for us rushed to clear the last few inches of soil within the buildings to bring the level down to the base of the walls. In one building this revealed an exciting floor made up of flagstones and cobbles.
Builders working on the conservation of our archelogical walls are now settled in and are starting to iron out some initial teething problems. It seems the building sand here in South Wales isn’t much good for lime mortar! – it’s all dregged from the Bristol Channel just like what you get on the beach. So the search has been on for some coarser less salty stuff. Meanwhile the team from Grovsenor have been hard and work cleaning the crumbly old mortar out from between the stone of the buildings.
We also want to make sure we have got to the bottom of the walls so they can be fixed up right to their base. We have therefore done some test pits to find what we think would have been the floor level. In one building this revealled a layer of broken roof tiles and then a layer of thick smelly tar-like slag before we found a hard base surface.
Whenever we clear areas we often find lumps of iron – you can see some of these inside the test pits and our builder also uncovered the interesting piece of engineering seen in the pictures.
Next week we hope to use a small machine to bring the rest of the area inside the rooms down to the levels found within these pits.
Keep reading and keep up to date with our progress.
Today conservation work to our archeological buildings has eventually begun after a long wait we accepted the delivery of a cabin and welcomed builders from Grovesnor Construction to the site where over the next 12 weeks they will work hard to conserve the ruins of the 19th century tinplate works and make repairs to our river wall. As you can see they got straight to work setting up camp and scraping out the old mortar from some of the buildings.
Why not come along and learn more about the project and meet the builders or keep up to date with the progress of the works hear on the blog!
After a christmas break we are back in full swing here at Aberdulais. Whilst we are open to visitors at the weekends there has been plenty of action mid-week as well as we work to conserve the heritage of the site and ensure everything looks as good as possible for the 2012 season.
There is currently a degree of upheaval in the centre of the site having just completed a second phase of archeological clearance to bring areas within the remains of the tinplate works down to near floor level. This is part of a larger project to ensure the continued conservation of this industrial site. We started the New Year with a bang, with a digger and dumper onsite to remove what turned out to be a further 7 skip loads! of topsoil to get us down to the archeological levels. These were then cleaned up by volunteers from the Friends of Aberdulais heritage group.
We have removed a great quantity of imported stone which we are now hoping to remove from the site. We have also discovered several never before seen sections of wall- including a small section from the 18th Century which pre-dates the tinworks and harks back the to previous industries of the site’s past. Come and see these newly uncovered sections of wall which will soon be undergoing building work to help preserve them for future generations.
During October half term as part of our larger Environment Wales funded ‘Turning a new leaf’ woodland community engagement project we once again joined forces with the youth ‘dreamscheme’ group from the Gwailia estate in Aberdulais, which overlooks our National Trust visitor site. Now the photographs have arrived allowing us to share the fun we had over the two days. We discussed the impacts of littering etc. in the woodland and the group used their ideas to create posters to put up around the estate to encourage other members of the community to take part in our ‘Make a Difference’ Day Woodland Tidy up.
We also provided the group the opportunity to visit our heritage site and learn about their heritage – the history of the area and their community. The group really enjoyed comparing pictures from the time of the Tinworks to now – getting a sense of what life was like for the workers of the site.
Everyone really enjoyed a tour based on our new trail complete with smells which really bring the past alive. They then had a chance to explore the site from the remains of the tinplate works to our nature a good time seemed to be had by all – with many probing questions from budding curious minds.
Even though our summer season has finished, you can still come a visit us Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Aberdulais looks really great in winter weather – just see our frosty and snow pictures from last year! Like everyone else we are looking forward to this Christmas and can’t wait for our Open Air Christmas Celebration on Friday 2nd December. Come and join us at 6pm to for refreshments and to get in some Christmas shopping in our excellent National Trust Shop before the entertainment starts at 6.30pm. There will be Carols from our very own Friends of Aberdulais Falls Waterwheel Singer and from local Cilfrew Primary School and even a chance to join in with family favorites such as the 12 days of Christmas! Then there will we a chance to meet Santa and see him switch on our Christmas Tree Lights!
For more details about this event: Contact us on 01639636674