Penrhyn Du engine house, Machroes
The tall stone building you can see from the Wales Coast Path here was erected in the 18th century to house a Boulton and Watt steam engine. It pumped water from the Penrhyn Du lead mine, which ceased working in the 1890s. This type of building was known as a Cornish engine house, and the example here may well have been built by Cornish miners who came to the Llŷn Peninsula because mining skills were in short supply locally.
The nearby cottages called Cornish Row also denote the link with Cornwall. The proximity of the sea would have helped mine owners to bring such heavy machinery to this area, when overland transport was poorly developed. The lead could be loaded onto ships at Penrhyn Du point, a little north of here.
There were once several lead mines in this area. Penrhyn Du (which means “black headland”) is thought to have been the first of them, established c.1638.
There are several mine shafts (vertical tunnels) on the land adjacent to the engine house. Some have been filled, others remain open but are fenced off for safety. Of particular note is a deep well which is lined with bricks and has water running through the bottom. The engine house is in a private garden, to which there is no public access.
About the place-name:
Machroes was written as Marghroys in 1353, Marchroes in 1609 and March rȏs in 1783. In other records it is written as Marchros, similar to Marcross/Marcroes in Glamorgan (South Wales). The earliest written forms suggest that the second element here could be croes (“cross”) and the first march (“large”). Another possibility is that the second element comes from rhos (“moor”).
With thanks to Margery Griffin, and to Prof Hywel Wyn Owen and Glenda Carr of the Welsh Place-Name Society
Postcode: LL53 7BU View Location Map