In a nutshell. Stone, copper, wool and transport.
Industry isn’t something that’s confined to the great Industrial Revolution that transformed Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries. We were busy making things long before that.
In the hills above Penmaenmawr you’ll find a Stone Axe ‘factory’ which turned out axes by the cartload. They must have had a full order book, for Penmaenmawr axes have been found all over Britain.
Can you imagine what it must have been like when miners used just stone and bone tools to dig underground? Marvel at their achievements – and fear for the conditions under which they must have worked – at the amazing Great Orme Mines, Llandudno, where Bronze Age copper miners worked in what is thought to be the largest underground mine so far discovered in the world.
In more recent times, plentiful wool and water led to a thriving weaving industry at Trefriw. The woollen mill, founded in the mid-19th century, is still going strong. The complicated banks of machinery still clatter away producing traditionally patterned Welsh weaves. And it’s still using water to provide the hydro-electric power for the mill.
Transport also had its revolution. It may be difficult in the Easyjet and Ryanair era to contemplate stagecoach journeys that took days. But gradually, roads improved.
The great Victorian engineer, Thomas Telford, pioneered the A5 route between London with the Irish Sea port of Holyhead. His solution for crossing the Conwy Estuary in 1826? A graceful suspension bridge, built in a style that mirrors that of the castle. It stood the test of time, serving as the main road crossing until 1956. Bridge and tollhouse are now in the care of the National Trust.