Postcards from my Past / 6 Some eerie ruins in mid Wales

Many years ago, over 40 in fact, I came across a copy of Country Life in a waiting room. Flicking through idly as one does, there was an article about an abandoned mine in the Ystwyth valley in Wales. There was a rather interesting structure shown, and I thought ‘I’ve got to see that!’. I knew it was do-able as my parents lived in Shropshire at the time. So off I went, and the structure looked just as it had in the  magazine article:

Cymystwyth Slate Dressing Mill 1

The valley was deserted, I think I only saw a couple of cars in two or three times I went there. A very desolate, barren landscape. I would park up, and wander about, particularly to get images of this old Slate Dressing Mill, as I later discovered it was. It was fabulously eerie, as the wind would gust through the valley and the corrugated iron of this structure would clank and creak and groan – I would frequently think that there was someone there.

I found out a few years ago that it was dismantled not too long afterwards…. Here’s a view of the mill from the other side:

Cymystwyth Slate Dressing Mill 2

This image shows a little more of the desolate mining landscape around:

Cymystwyth Slate Dressing Mill 3

So this is a definite relic of the past, surviving only in photographs and memories. Just wish I had explored some of the mine workings….! I never did, as it would have been too dangerous as I was unaccompanied…I do have some sense of self preservation!


  1. Love that sense of lost industry, in a desolate landscape. Great stuff, Sue.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Oh I love going through magazines in waiting rooms, always on the lookout for something interesting. Interesting meaning ideas for photography. 😉 I’m glad you went, your photos are very good, priceless and historic. On South Lewis we visited an abandoned Norwegian whaling station. I was happy the buildings, not intact, were still there.

  3. The second shot is beautiful, Sue. Just something about that aspect and the background. 🙂 🙂

    • Sue

      Glad you like it, Jo! I think it appeals because you can see more of the other buildings, the background to place it in context…

  4. A true lunar landscape! I love the second and third images, especially the third as it nestles into the hillside.

    • Sue

      Thanks Jude! Part of the lunar appearance in the third image, especially is courtesy of the film stock it was shot on….I have found Kodak Ektachrome to be prone to colour shifts and becoming ‘washed out’ with age – Perutz was just as problematic. And unfortunately I didn’t scan my transparencies in years ago, and many of them are beyond saving….

  5. Brilliant!
    I love all of these images Sue – you have captured that feeling of desolation and history perfectly.
    I was going to ask if it was still there but you answered that 😦

    • Sue

      Desolation and history, indeed…. I was very fortunate seeing this before it disappeared for all eternity… Pleased you liked this post, Debs

  6. This brings so many things to mind. I lived in Scranton, Pennsylvania when I went to undergraduate school…a defunct coal mining town. Also thought of the bio of Van Gogh. Wonderful atmospheric photos.

  7. When he was very young he tried a ministry to impoverished coal miners…the first of his many failures. Some wonderful creations emerged from that period in his life. Paintings of coal miners and their families, the one of boots. He painted from a place of pain so often.

    • Sue

      Oh, right! I thought I knew a certain amount about him, but I didn’t know that… He certainly painted from a place of pain often.

  8. Suzanne

    What brilliant photos. They are so atmospheric.

  9. It looks like the setting for some kind of end of the world film!

  10. Oh, it’s a lovely post Sue. Just as well you heeded the siren call of a waiting room magazine – we rarely do, although we often want to. You’ve taken superb photos of a wonderfully photogenic structure. It’s almost like a sculpture – every angle gives you a totally different configuration. And your photos have actually preserved the past. Interestingly one of my other blogging connections has also just been talking about a photo he has that records a vanished past. A justification for photography – if one was needed beyond pure pleasure! The surrounding hills provide a perfect frame from every angle, despite their barrenness.

    • Sue

      I have heeded siren calls on a number of occasions, so I have images testament to several vanished pasts! This place was just so remote, so eerie…

  11. I always sit and ponder when I come across such old industrial landscapes. You have to wonder at the lives of those who worked in such environments in all weathers….not a live that we would endure today.

  12. wonderful place, Sue

  13. I wish this beautiful ruin had been preserved. Do you think they built something else in its place? I love this type of landscapes and your shots, but am glad to hear that you do have some sense of self-preservation 🙂

  14. What a ruin this was but highly dangerous to wander around inside I imagine. I’ve explored some deserted slate mines up in Snowdonia – the roofs are missing – which makes life less risky. Each site provides some insight into what it must have been like to work in these isolated places. Grim is the word that springs to mind.

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