Snippets of History – 2024

The group met in Peniel Chapel on the evening of 15th February 2024 and our Chair welcomed our speakers for the evening. This was a “Snippets” evening, during which we have a series of shorter talks on subjects of local interest.


The Ty Gwyn Copper Mine
Our first speaker of the evening was Adrian Hughes. Adrian is a Committee member of Deganwy History group and in addition to his work with the British Legion Poppy Appeal, the Home Front Museum in Llandudno and his published works on military history he is the co-director and treasurer of the Great Orme Exploration Society. (GOES). This was founded in 1986 with the aims of researching, exploring and conserving the Great Orme’s mine history.

Adrian explained that before the establishment of GOES, many individuals explored the Great Orme mines, often with a rather cavalier attitude which led to accidents. Copper has been mined on the Orme since the bronze age, possibly reworked through the Roman and medieval period and worked during the 17th, 18th and the 19th century when the demand for copper grew due to the expansion of the British Empire and the need for ships hulls to be lined with copper to prevent harm.

We were shown ariel photos of shafts, bell pits and open cast mines on the Orme and then our speaker turned his attention to another local copper mining area, known as Ty Gwyn after the farm on which copper was discovered in the 1830s. This is the area which is now Happy Valley and around Church Walks.

Edward Jones owned Ty Gwyn and the presence of copper was discovered when one of his cows slipped and exposed a piece of rock which contained green malachite (copper ore). He could not afford to excavate by himself so formed the Ty Gwyn Mining company which became very profitable producing ore worth £100,000 in 18 years. Mine offices were built around the area which is now the Empire Hotel and a reservoir around Ty Coch Road to supply a large steam engine. There was also a 15ft water wheel where Min y Don hotel is situated and an ore crusher at the Belmont hotel site. Mining began in 1835 but flooding became a huge issue and the mine closed in 1853.

Adrian then discussed the work of the Great Orme Exploration Society. One of the first priorities was to discover the location of the Ty Gwyn mine. When descending the shaft on Prospect Terrace they found the main tunnel leading back to the sea was blocked by a rock fall and clay slip. Tom Parry, a local historian was instrumental in finding the location of the other end of the tunnel near the pier and the group eventually broke through into the tunnel for the first time in 140 years. They were allowed to line the shaft they had made and provide access by a manhole cover.

Ty Gwyn Mine

We were then shown a series of photos from within the mine and Adrian gave us many interesting facts about how it was worked, including the use of gunpowder in the mine, the method for transporting the ore to be smelted in Lancashire and South Wales and the process of lining the tunnel (known as “ginging”).

The society is still digging, exploring and finding new things and Adrian concluded by telling us about the objects found underground. The shafts had been left open for around a hundred years and objects included bones, a cow horn and a complete chamber pot!

An interesting, entertaining talk and the audience were very appreciative.


Our second speaker was Philip Evans who gave a very detailed history of our local Deganwy railway station, staff and signal boxes. Philip has a long association with Deganwy station having worked there as a young boy and has many personal stories to recall.

Deganwy Station by Philip C Evans

The line from the junction to Llandudno opened in 1858 by the St George’s Harbour & Railway Company. It was managed by Henry Graham, a young bookseller from Oxford, who was designated as the Superintendent. At that stage the line was single track and there was no station at Deganwy.

Eventually, and following an 1862 management agreement, the line was absorbed formally by the London & North Western Railway in 1873. In the meantime the LNWR had doubled the route and provided in 1868 an intermediate station at what was then called Deganway. The name was changed in 1882 to Deganwy.

The LNWR continued with improvments: the first signal box of 26 levers was built in 1884 and was mainly used to control movements of freight to and from the newly built Quay which was the focus for much transhipment of goods between rail and sea. 1895 saw the still extant footbridge built; gas lighting was provided in 1898; a waiting room and porters’ room was located on the up platform and in 1914 the booking office facilities were remodelled. The waiting room came about because of complaints that there was only a facility for ladies.

1915 saw the construction of a second signal box at the Marine Crescent crossing. This box, designated No. 2 had 18 levers and an usual, rare stone base. This box replaced a small ground frame on the platform which was operated by the porters who closed the gates.

The Quay crossing had its own keeper housed in a hut boasting one lever which locked the gates. The lever was in turn locked by either of the two signalboxes and a system of bell-codes was used to require the gates to be opened or closed. No1 box was not in continuous use once freight traffic tailed off from the Quay in the early 20th century. Until its closure in 1967, the box was only opened for rolling stock storage at the Quay and on Summer Saturdays to give additional line capacity for the busy traffic bound to and from Llandudno. Goods traffic at Deganwy ceased in September 1964.

As many as 12 staff were employed up to the Second World War and by 1965 there was a Station Master/Goods Agent Class 3, 2 Class 4 signalmen, 1 Porter/Signalman and 2 Porters. The last booking clerk’s post ended in 1966 and the Station Master’s post itself abolished in 1967.

Deganwy Railway Ticket

In October 1964, E. John Roberts was transferred to Deganwy from Glan Conwy which had closed. I had been friendly with John when he was at Glan Conwy and he was quite happy to let me “help” including issuing tickets. This practice happily continued on Saturday afternoons for several years. I was also able to learn the block signalling system through visits to the signalbox under the guidance of Eddie Eccles and Ossie Jones the two regular signalmen who worked early and lates in rotation. Deganwy’s last Station Master was Mr T. Glyn Jones, a native of Prestatyn who had been SM of Hope & Penyffordd which station had closed in April 1962. He succeeded Mr John Morris who had been in post from 1947 until 1962. A native of Malltraeth, Mr Morris various postings around North Wales and was on hand at Deganwy for several Royal train arrivals during his tenure. In July 1946, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, having spent the night in the Quay sidings, boarded a car outside the station to taken them on to visit Conwy. April 1949 saw Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh made a similar transfer at Deganwy to visit Bangor and Blaenau Ffestiniog by road. In 1951, Princess Margaret’s train was stabled on the Quay prior to her visit to Llandudno and Conwy. Lastly, the Duke of Edinburgh’s train spent the early morning of 1st June 1956 at the Quay before departing for Betws y Coed, the occasion being the opening of Plas y Brenin.

26th July, 1956 saw an interesting mishap during Mr Morris’ time: a light engine from Llandudno colliding with one of the sets of crossing gates, smashing one of the pair into smithereens. Permanent Way men were swiftly on the scene and cleared the debris. The engine proceed on its way to the Junction with no injuries caused and no interruption to services.

The two railmen turns at the station were reduced to one day shift in 1977 and by the mid-1980s there was no staff presence at all.

Mr Glyn Jones and his family lived in the Station House until 1976 when he retired from his post in Colwyn Bay booking office and after a period of neglect the station buildings were demolished in April 1996.

Our final speaker was Dr Stephen Lockwood, former head of the marine laboratories in Conwy. Stephen is a very active member of the History of Deganwy Group and has given previous talks covering subjects as diverse as Mussels, Sewage & Science; Boat Building on the Conwy; Benarth Hall: Owners, Occupants & Visitors, and Industrial Gyffin. His topic this time was the 19th century lunatic service, focusing on Joseph Bayley (1836-1913), founder of Bryn y Neuadd Hospital in Llanfairfechan, and his contribution to a more caring approach.

(Click on the link below for Stephen’s talk)

Joseph Bayley, founder of Bryn y Neuadd Hospital


Many thanks to Adrian, Philip and Stephen for their fascinating talks. Everyone who was there will have left with a deeper knowledge of what is in – and, in the case of Adrian’s talk, underneath – their local area.

Also many thanks to Diane, Wendy and Lucinda for writing these reports for this website.


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