2014 HERITAGE WEEKEND – 26/27/28 MAY
Over the Whitsun Bank Holiday Weekend we held our annual Heritage Weekend at Van Mine, this was also combined with a working weekend. There is a local Community Council project to lay footpaths over some of the landscaped mine site and as a contribution to this project the Trust offered to lead walks around the area and to clear the saplings and undergrowth from the few remaining features at the mine.
On the Saturday Nigel Chapman (the author of The Van Mines) led a walk for local residents and visitors around the vast site of the mine. Unfortunately the rain gods were not on our side, as a few hardy souls gathered for the walk in heavy rain. It was decided the walk would begin in the hope that the rain would clear during the morning, as it turned out the rain continued all day. This did not deter the attendees who enjoyed their tour of the area.
On the Saturday evening over forty locals and visitors gathered in the Van Institute to hear talks by Nigel Chapman, David James and myself on the history and geology of the Van area. Because the heavy rain may have deterred many locals from taking part in the walk on Saturday Nigel offered to re-run the walk on Sunday.
When we arrived at Van on Sunday morning it was still raining but not as bad as the previous day. A small group of local people gathered for the days walk. Fortunately the rain did slowly clear during the day.
Members of the Trust working group with the help of a few local people, began the task of clearing the saplings and undergrowth that was concealing the few remains of the mine that had not been demolished or buried by the landscaping in the early 1990’s.
Clearing the Gas Producer Plant Base
We began by clearing the site of the foundations of the Gas Producer Plant, we then continued with the compound below the tramway piers, where the stone mounting blocks for the double beam steam engine that drove the crusher are located. These stone blocks are very interesting as the mason’s marks are still visible.
Crusher Engine Area
Our last planned task of the weekend was to clear the cutting to the standard gauge railway tunnel, which had become almost invisible over the years. This is a dead end tunnel where the wagons were loaded underground with ore to be transported away over the Van Railway.
Railway Tunnel Approach
We were pleased to be able to make a contribution and hope our work will result in users of the footpaths being able to see the few remains of this once great mine and be able to learn a little of the history from interpretation boards that we hope will be erected as part of the Community Council project.
Our thanks to the Trust members and local people who took part in the weekend and assisted with the clearance work, also to Powys County Council.
Don’t forget, you can also view the photo archive of the Van Mine site here!