Copper Kingdom in Final Five of Guardian heritage award

Copper Kingdom in Amlwch, Anglesey has made it into the Final Five (of over 500 nominations) of the Guardian newspaper’s museums and heritage awards for innovation in engaging volunteers.

Doors to the Copper Kingdom, Amlwch, Anglesey.

Doors to the Copper Kingdom, Amlwch, Anglesey.

It is the only representation of industrial heritage and the only one from Wales–or indeed anywhere outside of London and South East England.

Public voting is now open and closes on 12 April. Vote Now!

The award is for the “UK’s most inspiring museum or heritage visitor attraction of the past year.”

Copper Kingdom, situated in Amlwch’s old copper bins in the harbour, is a refreshing example of a new heritage attraction that has bags of substance as well as style. It takes its history seriously and presents it wonderfully. If you have not yet visited, I could not recommend it more. I was one of the nominators for Copper Kingdom and this was my nomination pitch:

“Copper Kingdom is the most original, informative and immersive new heritage centre in Wales. A beautiful example of industrial regeneration, the old copper bins now house an inspirational story of how a tiny village port was for a while in the 18th century the centre of the world’s copper industry.”

Copper field trip to North Wales

The windmill is of particular interest as it makes plain why, for a period of about 15-20 years, Anglesey’s copper mining eclipsed that of Cornwall as they didn’t have to spend quite so much time and money pumping water out of the ground to get at the ore.

I have finally completed my itinerary to visit North Wales to kick start a new phase of my copper research.

It is a long way from west Cornwall to north-west Wales. I lament that the once regular costal shipping serving the western Atlantic ports of the Celtic Sea and Irish Sea would have provided a much more atmospheric arrival into Bangor or Amlwch. Then again, I may have ended up ship-wrecked, like so many did, often close to home port.

Railing through industrial heartlands

Instead I will be travelling via mid-nineteenth century routes on the railways. Starting at the end of the Great Western line in Penzance, up to Birmingham (synonymous with copper mogul Matthew Boulton), thence to Crewe and Bangor. My return trip wends me to Wolverhampton, home of art metalware and the famous Bilston enamels.

I will be spending a few days in Bangor University Archives thoroughly going through the records of Williams and Grenfell’s Copper Smelting Firm, 1829-1834. It is in this collection that the rare Ticketing documents are found, and on which I have been conducing some preliminary research. Continue reading