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‘The Welsh Potosi’ book captures mining history of Mid Wales mountains

Vale of Rheidol Railway in Mid Wales has announced the publication of ‘The Welsh Potosi’, the second book of Ioan Lord’s extensive research into local mining history, which is filled with important discoveries.

The Plynlimon Mountains, situated in the heart of Mid Wales and the wider Cambrian Mountains, were once known by a different name – one that was composed to reflect the riches of South America during the 17th century.

The mountainous region, stretching north from Ponterwyd, was christened the ‘Welsh Potosi’, after the world-famous Potosí silver mines in Bolivia. 

More than 50 mines were opened to extract the ores of lead, zinc, copper and silver and numerous plans were made to construct railways and other transportation links from the mountains to the coast. 

Villages and scattered communities were established high in the hills, as the Plynlimon Mountains became populated, with miners and engineers living alongside farmers and shepherds. 

Dwellings and landmarks were given names such as the ‘California of Wales’, the ‘Welsh Broken Hill’ and ‘Spain’. The ‘Welsh Potosi’ grew to be so important that it led to a significant change in the future of British metal mining in 1693.

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Today, the industrial significance of these hills between Aberystwyth and Llangurig is largely forgotten and the name has long vanished from every map. It is hoped that this book will breathe new life and interest into the once-famous ‘Welsh Potosi’.

Ioan, a director of the Welsh Mines Preservation Trust  and Cambrian Mines Trust, has spent many years researching the history and archaeology of metal mining in Central Wales.  

His passion for this history, as well as his knowledge, is clear to see in his work, studying the rise and fall of mining, railways and society in and around the Plynlimon Mountains, with many amazing images taken during his authorised exploration of the mines.

This new title builds on the success of his first book published by the Vale of Rheidol Railway, ‘Rich Mountains of Lead’, of which the first print run completely sold out.

A formal book launch will take place on Saturday, October 21 at the Vale of Rheidol Railway, timed to coincide with the 1:30pm train arrival at Aberystwyth, where Ioan will be available to talk about his book, sign copies and answer questions.

The new book is available only from the railway. With the initial print run being limited in numbers and interest expected to be high, early ordering to avoid disappointment is recommended.  See https://www.rheidolrailway.co.uk/shop/ for ordering information.

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