A Brief History of the mill.
Hello & welcome to the parks history page.
The original water mill is dated back to as early as 1150 when the Cistercian monk’s of Neath Abbey used it as a girst (flour) mill while Cwrt-y-Carnau was taken over by them as a grange. They also farmed a large amount of the surrounding land.
Unfortunately under King Henry VIII’s rule, Neath Abbey was dissolved in 1539 it was then that the land was sold & bought by local land owners. The unsold land was then passed to the hands of the crown, this included Melin Mynach. However the mills history wasn’t over yet.
In 1575 John Pryce (later Price), a local born gentleman, then working in London, purchased Cwrt-y-carnau, the manor & land which included Melin Mynach. However his family didn’t farm the land or run the mill, he tenanted them.
During the Prices ownership of the mill of the Cwrt-y-carnau and Melin Mynach their were several different tenant millers, in 1722 Thomas Selman tenanted the mill and added to it a paper mill along side the original girst mill. Selman’s paper mill introduced a completely new industry to Wales, the mill at Melin Mynach was one of the first in the country. He is also accredited for building the adjacent mill house. The Selman family didn’t leave the mill for nearly 100 years when the last serving relative of Thomas Selman sadly died.
Another miller, Thomas Rowland, took over the mill and oversaw the paper production until the mill stopped production in 1819.
Following the end of paper production, the mill then remained undocumented until 1840 where it was recorded as untenanted & Idle.
During those years and for a few years prior the mill was under the ownership of Colonel Nathaniel Cameron, 1st reform mayor of Swansea. He inherited the Cwrt-y-carnal estate, then known as the Gellihir estate, through marriage to a Pryce/Price family member.
Colonel Cameron owned the mill until 1852 when it, along with many other assets, were sold due to financial difficulties, this was when William Lewis purchased Melin Mynach.
At the time of purchase Lewis was known to be at Melin LLan, a woollen mill near Penllergar. All though the lewis family did not move to Melin Mynach until the last 1960’s. It was at that time the papermill (the 2nd milll) was converted to a woollen mill which was expanded largely in 1874, the dating stone can be seen today following a clearance event held by the Friends of Park Melin Mynach in 2021. The expansion allowed for the production of Welsh flannel that Lewis sold locally.
In 1888 the mill sadly stopped all productions & ceased trading after the Lewis family turned to other industries. However William Lewis was still resident in the adjacent mill house until his death in 1902.
In more recent times the site of the mill has had much interest in its history. In 1990 the previous Lliw Valley Council instigated the initial recognition of the mills importance carrying out restorative work on the leat, which was originally a mile long. Unfortunately only a short distance of the waterway could be restored. They also took measure in an attempt to prevent any further damage.
Following this in 1995 an excavation of the site was completed, during the dig the 18th Century waterwheel remains were found, these are now located at the Cecil Road entrance. They then installed a replica that is still in place today. As well as all of this in 1996, Cadw gave the mill a status of scheduled monument as it is considered of National importance.
Unfortunately in the years following the mill has been left open to damage due to the public access of the park, there has been damage to the building remains and a lot of littering.
However we as a friends group are making progress to change this by hosting different events centred around the park with the hopes or restoring/retaining the current structure of the mill.
All research collated by Jade Kavarana.
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