Talargoch was one of the most productive mines in Flintshire. It has produced minerals such as copper, silver and calamine, but it is most famous as a producer of lead ore, and from the 1860s, zinc ore. It is likely to have been worked since Roman times, but the evidence merely suggests, not confirms this.
The mine was producing around 400 tons a year in the 1660s but during the mines last 40 years up to 1884. it produced nearly 60,000 tons of lead ore (galena) and 50,000 tons of Zinc ore (blende).
Unlike many Flintshire mines during the 1600s and 1700s, Talargoch’s minerals were owned by the landowner (and not by mineral owning families such as the Grosvenors).
Its peaks of production occur in the 1850s for lead and around 1880 for zinc.
The mine had strikes in 1852, 1856, 1877 and 1884, the first two over attempts to introduce an 8 hour working day.
In 1874 Talargoch had a total of the following steam engines in operation:
One x 100”, one x 80”, one 36”, two x 24”, two x 18” and two x 12” plus 15 donkey engines. They also had a 20 feett diameter waterwheel and another of 40 feet diameter.
Accurate temperature readings were taken at a depth of 630 feet in 1880. These showed an increase in temperature of 1 degree farenheit for every 77 feet below the surface.
The mine worked three principal veins of which the longest was nearly a mile in length. They are Pantons Vein, Talargoch Vein, and South Joint. Panton’s and Talargoch are separated by and run parallel to, the Prestatyn to Meliden Road (see plan).
These rich veins are terminated by the Prestatyn Fault before reaching Bishop’s Wood. The veins worked in Bishop’s Wood are minor, with limited mineralisation and are consequently not extensive.
Two miners cottages (2 storey) remain behind the mine office (now a residence) as part of the 4 or 5 house terrace of Talargoch Cottages. On the wall of one of these is a plaque stating: “(Built) at the expense (of the) Talargoch Mine Co. MDCCLXXXV”
In 1875 the mine was for sale as a going concern for an asking price of £50,000. There were no buyers until 1883 when it was sold for £4,600. The pumps were turned off when mining ceased in 1884. A few men were then employed until 1899 when the last six men finished work underground. Presumably these men were removing the last remaining equipment before the entire mine flooded.
The waste tips were worked for a few years after closure which continued to produce zinc ore up until 1905 when the final 29 surface workers were laid off. There was an attempt in 1903 to seek funding for further mining at Talargoch by Captain Matthew Francis but nothing came of it.
Letter from the miners (1856) sent during the strike seeking benefactors:
4th August 1850
Dear friend, we, the Talargoch miners do stand out against oppression and tyranny and our masters put on us as miners. We stand out manly like one man since last Saturday month. God knows what is the purpose of this, we have given every fair proposal to the masters but all in vain hitherto. They also refuse every offer coming from the miners hands. Now what are we to do in this case - we have lost the poor miners Fund in order to aid the weak amongst us. The gentry and clergymen give liberally towards it i.e. the Fund. And so this time we come upon your asking as miners and masters. If you are men that will sympathise towards your fellow creatures, helping will exhibit your liberality towards men who have been suffering for want of food, together with our little children, these last 4 months have been venturing without any prospect of half a penny to support our human nature and relieve our misery.
We should feel ourselves much obliged to you for the smallest boon. Please to send with the post your opinion upon this subject to us.
For the miners:
(Note: ‘Venturing’ means mining on their own accord. Although this word is used in the actual letter, several secondary sources omit it entirely for some reason, including Thorburn) - Cris Ebbs
All the above is taken from British Mining publication No.31 “Talargoch Mine” by J.A. Thorburn. “A Monograph of the Northern Mine Research Society” published in 1986
A few items from the Kinnaird report of 1864
Four miners were interviewed:Thomas Parry aged 16, Peter Jones aged 9, Thomas Pickering aged 16, Robert Griffith aged 32. Also examined was Captain William Bowen.
The exertion on ascending the ladders from the deeper workings is very great indeed, but there are resting places.
Miners with bad chests are often black in the face upon ascending the ladders and are quite out of breath and exhausted.
There is a strict order against coming up in the buckets because of many accidents.
In 1863 there were 300 miners underground.
1862 the 6 hour shift was still in place, the mine was 220 yards deep and the mine was being worked from 12 surface shafts.
At change of shift, the men pass each other about half way up to surface. This travelling time forms a part of the 6 hours, consequently, the men are at work about 5 hours only.
Miners are allocated about 2 pounds of candles a week.
The men have a changing cabin, heated from pipes from the boiler room.
Miners were paid in gold and silver once a month.
Being managed by John Taylor, it is now one of the best ventilated mines in the area.
“We have provided a very good bath for the men, but not one of them will go into it”.