Croeso / Welcome to The Copper Kingdom, Amlwch, Anglesey
Buried deep beneath a mountain on the isle of Anglesey, North Wales lies an extraordinary mineral wealth.
Once the largest Copper mine in the world, its abundance resulted in the growth of mining, ship building and a chemical industry in this small corner of the island.
The town of Amlwch became Anglesey’s own “Copper Rush” town, just as unruly as the wild west gold rush towns.
The Copper Kingdom tells the tale of the times and tribulations of the lives of our ancestors and of the transformation of a small fishing village into one of Wales’ most industrious towns of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Take the time to meander over the rugged colourful pathways of Parys Mountain, the place that became the Copper Kingdom of the 18th century. Imagine over 1500 people working away in all weathers both above and below ground, mining and filtering out the precious copper ore for a solitary penny a day.
Or alternatively, venture down to the harbour where you can experience the working life of the Copper Lady, Miner, Smelter, Mine Manager or an Assay Manager, in our award winning interactive “Copper Kingdom Centre”
Here too, you can visit the Sail Loft, a listed building with its sloping floor, a place for a small bite to eat and with further information about the ship building industry which grew up to service the needs of the copper mine.
Copper Kingdom is steeped with history and is a location that shouldn’t be missed, fun for all of the family so why not follow it’s twists and turns learn about our local history and have a great day out.
The Copper Kingdom Centre
The Copper Kingdom Centre is located on the quayside in the picturesque fishing harbour of Amlwch port. This awarding winning centre tells the tales of the transformation of the district.
Copper has been mined at Parys Mountain since the Bronze Age and the centre will illustrate how things evolved until the “Great Discovery” of Copper in 1768. From here on until the turn of the 20th century Amlwch was to be recognised as a place of industry and renowned opportunity.
The Copper Kingdom Centre is a family friendly location that can accommodate all ages.
The Centre is wheel chair accessible and has a lift that will allow access to the first floor where an abundance of information is available i.e cinema, interactive touch table, children’s play area, information boards, artefacts.
Upon entry you will be greeted by experienced assistants who will provide you with an audio handset and advise you on the routes available for your self-guided tour around the building.
Take time to listen to the tales of the different characters as they pass on their experiences either through the display screens or handsets
You’ll find that the workers (or Werin in Welsh) found life somewhat harder than the mine managers.
You will also have chance to visit our re-creation of an underground mine as shown below. Use your mouse to walk around the 360 degree image.
Take time to carry out some “brass” rubbings in our Children’s corner and if you feel daring enough why not dress up as a miner or copper lady and have a photo taken as a holiday reminder.
Make sure to visit the cinema and experience overhead video footage of the area the copper came from and see the mountain in a different light. The film may even make you want to make the short journey to experience the mountain itself:- Ask the staff for directions.
Finally, take some time to look around our well stocked shop, where a small trinket or souvenir can be purchased and in turn hopefully give you that simple reminder of your experience of the Copper Kingdom.
While in Amlwch harbour you should visit the Sail Loft which has an exhibition about the maritime history of the Port which developed to serve the needs of the copper industry.
Here you’ll note the sloped floor, a purpose to its design in the making of sails. Take your time digesting how the area benefitted from the tradesmen’s application and on how Amlwch Boat Yard became well known during its existence.
This unique location is somewhere where you can relax over a coffee or light lunch whether that be alfresco taking in the sights or in our quaint café /bistro.
You can also experience the life and times of our harbour men and the boat builders through visiting our Maritime museum. Here you’ll note the sloped floor and learn the history of the harbour over time.
See if you can identify the legacy left by the Cornish miners and the dry dock where so many ships were launched.
Take a look at the animated projection of how the place would have looked and imagine the comings and goings of the people that worked either in the smelters or the seamen that loaded the cargo of copper ore, sulphur, and chemicals, into the boats in the harbour.
Whilst pondering and taking a step back in time have a look North out into the sea and you may be fortunate to spot land, the Isle of Man. You may even be lucky enough to see pods of dolphins passing by.
The Copper Kingdom, Sail Loft and Parys Mountain collectively provides an in-depth story of the location’s rich history of heritage, industrial turn around and lifestyles for years gone by.
Once the largest copper mine in the World, the 18th century the local solicitor, Thomas Williams was known as “The Copper King”.
Thomas Williams’ copper processes saw him sell the copper to the British Navy and through further processing, copper sheets [sheaths] were made and introduced to protect the naval fleets ships from timber worm and barnacle growth. This decision / invention turned out to be decisive as it also made the ships far more manoeuvrable and sea worthy in comparison to their counterparts i.e French and the Spanish. Well known characters of this period are of course Nelson and HMS Victory.
But what is there to see today? The self-guided walk around the surface will show you an unique, colourful, lunar landscape and some fascinating industrial ruins.
The route takes you past a large deep excavation where the copper was carved out of the ground. If you look closely you can see the remains of the Volcano at its heart. It is the mineral which spewed out of this volcano which was mined many years later.
It is known that mining took place here over 4000 years ago in the Bronze Age but most activity took place from 1768 after `The Great Discovery`.
Roland Pugh a local miner stumbled on a large deposit of copper ore and it’s from here that the story really takes off.
It was from this point where we had our own equivalent to the Gold Rush, the `Welsh Copper Rush`, when people came from all parts of the UK, particularly from Derbyshire and Cornwall, hoping to make their fortune at the largest copper mine in the world.
Listen to his story below:-
However it was not only men and boys who worked at the mountain. The rock rich in ore once raised to the surface was further processed by the woman and children of the day, who became known as the “Copper Ladis”.
These were women and young girls who chipped away the waste rock surrounding the ore.
Listen to one of the “Copper ladies” below:
A highly valuable metal of its day it brought riches to some but hardship to many. Some of those who stayed can still trace their roots back to Cornwall.
Michael Faraday visited in 1819 and described the mines thus: –
“Here the vein had swelled out into a bunch in the way I just now mentioned and had afforded a very rich mass of ore. Here again it became very narrow and we had in one corner to lay down on our backs and wriggle in through rough slanting opening not more than 12 or 14 inches wide. The whole mountain being above us and threatening to crush us to pieces.”
These days many of the underground entrances have been sealed but you can still safely follow the self-guided trails around the surface as shown in the 360-degree video below: –Use your mouse to move around and explore the mountain.
Parys Underground Group control access to around 5 km of old tunnels and workings under the mountain. Access to the old workings is dangerous and should not be attempted. For this reason, it is important that visitors to the surface stay on the designated paths.
Parys Mountain is located just 2 miles from the Copper Kingdom centre and is open all year. There is a free car park and a self-guided marked trail.
To get the most from your walk we would recommend that you take time to visit the Copper Kingdom Centre in Amlwch port so that you can put true meaning to the experience that you’ve had.
It is less than 10 mins drive or a 45 minutes walk.