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Coal mining

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This is a collection of facts about coal-mining in this area which I have drawn together from a variety of sources and tried to summarise by reference to the particular pits involved.
Nevertheless, the 'story' is far from complete, and possibly confusing in places, so I welcome any corrections and additions in the interest of achieving historical
accuracy and completeness.

  Sources/ reference points and further reading

Contributions by ;

 

Extracts from Annibynwyr Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen

Extracts from The History of Pontardawe and District by John Henry Davies

The 1838 Gwaun-cae-Gurwen railway : an abandoned  feeder to the Swansea canal. By Paul R. Reynolds, Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical Society, 32:7 (1998), 500-505. Publisher: Railway and Canal Historical Society. ISSN 00338834.  Full article with content regarding coalmining

Extracts from The History of Brynamman  by Enoch Rees   

Extracts from The Fed; a history of the South Wales Miners in the twentieth century. By Hywel Francis & David Smith

Extracts from  THE INDUSTRIALIZATION OF A GLAMORGAN PARISH (Llangiwg); By Hugh Thomas, National Library of Wales journal Winter, 1975, Vol XIX/2

Extracts from The South Wales Coalfield. Edited by A P Barnett & David Willson-Lloyd. Published by The Business Statistics Co Ltd, Cardiff. 1921

 

Abernant Colliery

 

Betws (Deep) Mine  This link takes you to the Miner's Advice site

 

Cwmgors Pits

 

Cwmllynfell & Cwmtwrch

Brynderi Colliery, Cwmtwrch  (Contains large image files)

Garnant / Glanaman / Betws

 

GCG/Tairgwaith

Pontardawe

 

Ystalyfera / Gwrhyd

 

 

Nicknames from the mines of the Tairgwaith district

Wages and Miners' Agents and Society for the Protection of Anthracite Miners

Pay slip 1889

Condolence letter

South Wales Miners Federation (SWMF) Register of Deaths in the South Wales coalfield between 5 January 1934 and 17 January 1941.
This is a letter written by Dr Glen Jenkins to the Editor of the Glamorgan Family History Society's journal in March 2006
It relates  to an index of the above Register of Deaths compiled by him and  now held by the Library and Information Services, University of Wales Swansea

See also; Coal Mining, A Reader for Primary Schools and Evening Continuation Classes by Henry Davies; The Welsh Educational Publishing Co, Merthyr Tydfil, 1904. This is a substantial extract from the book, of general interest only.

See also the Welsh Coal Mines site -  this excellent site has details and photographs of many Collieries in South Wales. Also many with lists of miners killed in pit disasters

Holdings detailed on Archives Network Wales ;   

  • Llanelli Library Plans    "Maps and plans relating to ..............plans of Rhos Colliery, Pantyffynnon, 1890...........; plan of the Ammanford Colliery, Ammanford, undated (c1900-1950); plans of Blaina Colliery, Pantyffynnon, undated (c1850-1920); plans of Caer-Bryn Colliery, Llandybie, undated (c1850-1950); .........; plan of the Cawdor Colliery, Brynamman, undated (c1850-1950); ........; plan of Garnot Colliery (Garnant Colliery?, Brynamman), undated (c1850-1950); plans of Gelly Ceidrim Colliery, near Glanamman, 1900-1928; plan of the Park Colliery, Pantyffynnon, undated (c1890-1920);........... ; plan of Wernos Colliery, Pantyffynnon, undated (c1908-1965); map of Gellyceidrim ucha-issa 1876; geological surveys of Great Britain, vertical sections of coal seams, undated (c1800-1900)."
  • National Coal Board Plans of Colliery Pit-head Buildings;   Include  " ...Cwmgorse, 1951-1953; ........ Gwaun Cae Gurwen collieries, 1939-1955........Tirbach pit-head baths, 1939-1957, Treforgan, 1963-1964,........"

From Archives Network Wales ;   "The National Coal Board (NCB) was set up under the Coal Nationalisation Act 1946. From 1 January 1947 it had sole responsibility for managing the British coal industry. The collieries of the former county of West Glamorgan lay within the NCB's South Wales Area. The NCB became British Coal in 1986 and was dissolved in 1994"

 

 

 

 

Extracts from Annibynwyr Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen up

 

 

 

This is an extract on the coal mining aspect of life from "Annibynwyr Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen" [1942] the history of the Independent chapels in the two adjoining villages of Gwaun-cae-gurwen and Cwmgors situated in Llangiwg parish  in the north western corner of Glamorgan.

The complete  translation and index are available on http://genuki.vs.mythic-beasts.com/big/wal/GLA/Llangiwg/Gwauncaegurwen/AnnibynwyrTRANS.html

"The district , in an industrial region, expanded early in the nineteenth century, and the growth of the church in the century was to a degree linked through the growth of the coal business. There are traces of coal workings here from early in the seventeenth century.

We have the history of the old court of the Manor of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen being held in 1610, adjudicating that the coal and seams below the ground in the possession of a tenant, were owned by the tenant and not by the landlord, and that the tenant could dig ,excavate and sell the coal without the permission of the owner of the land.

They worked the coal in those times in a very elementary way; only moving the earth that was on the seams that outcropped to the surface, and after digging the coal, throwing the earth back into the holes. By today, not bothering to throw anything back, but leaving ugly tips of rubble to spoil the look of the place; that's deterioration in one sense at least.

We have scores of these holes scarring the hills around the district.

Of late, they have excavated shallow pits, some fifteen or twenty yards deep, from some they carried the coal in wicker baskets after tying them to men's backs, and them climbing ladders fixed on the sides of the pits. The coal worker was assisted by some of his children, and sometimes by his wife as well, dragging a sort of small cart through the works. There were children of seven and eight years old working in these pits, and it was expected that a girl carried a ton of coal in a day for a wage of eight pence. We have pictures today of girls with ropes round their shoulders , pulling carts in some of the mines in this district in the early period referred to.

They carried the coal from these pits along rough tracks with horses and donkeys, with packs on their backs, until the main road was built in 1815-17, to connect the place with Pontardawe. The first pit, apart from the holes already referred to, was sunk about 1837, by a man called Charles Morgan, and in 1874 he sold the works to men from the county of Caerefrog, and they formed the Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen Coal Company.[* But see the History of Pontardawe and District by John Henry Daviesfor a different version]

The record book of the school gives us a glance at the occasional fact relating to the works. For example, here is a note about the price of coal;

"One load of coal brought to the school weighing 18cwt., the price of which was 5/3, and the carriage 10d." This was in 1868.

The schoolmaster complained that the children were leaving the school very young to work in the mine; very few were the boys who arrived in the higher class. The accidents were recorded as well; there were several notes like this; "Man killed at works". And the following week; "Man killed by the trucks".

There was an accident in the pit in the month of September, 1843 [ the worst accident in the history of the works] when the rope broke and six lives were lost.

That was a black day for the young Carmel church, because some if not all were members [of it].

In 1874, when the Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen Coal Company was formed, the total amount of coal raised was almost 70 tons a day. This was more than they could carry off in carts on the road, and they started to make a railway from the Old Pit down to Cwmtawe in order to discharge the coal onto boats on the canal, and then to be carried to Swansea to reach the ships.

It is easy to see the remains of this old way today coming past Pontbaraceirch, Cwmbach and Beiliglas to Cwmgors. As another company was building a railway from Llanelli to Garnant, they dropped the plan of taking the railway to Cwmtawe, and instead of that made a line to join the new railway in Cwmaman, and sent the coal over that one to Llanelli. It seems that that railway was one of the earliest in Wales.

In August, 1876, a strike broke out in the Waun works and it lasted longer than usual, and the old schoolmaster, George Edmunds gave a word of its story in the school book ;

" Commencement of third week of strike with the Waun colliers. Proprietors asking 12.5% reduction and the colliers refusing. The latter offered, Thursday last, 7.5%, but received no answer. On date, heard the ultimatum,---12.5%, nothing less.

Tuesday and Wednesday, colliers left for the hills [ the local term for the Rhondda and district], almost in a body, having withdrawn their offer of 7.5%. The whole loaf or nothing on both sides. The women of the place very depressed, but I do not believe it can last long as the coal trade is looking up, and a good demand."

The price of coal around this time was 8/- a ton according to the school book ."

Maerdy Pit up

 

 

 
The Maerdy Pit was the first major development by the GCG Colliery Company, owners of the Old Pit, who in c1883 had acquired the lease of a considerable additional acreage of coal.

The GCG Colliery Company were pioneers in the anthracite trade, and innovations they introduced , such as the mechanical breaking/sizing/washing processes[see below], were adopted by others subsequently.

The coal was the best quality anthracite and the "GCG" brand of anthracite became highly rated in the market place. Indeed it won laurels at the following exhibitions ; 1883-Amsterdam ; 1885-Antwerp; 1888-Barcelona ; 1889 - Paris etc.

The GCG Colliery Co's mines at GCG were well served by links to the Great Western Railway on the west side and the Midland Railway on the east side.These gave the company easy access to the ports of Swansea, Llanelly, Briton Ferry and Port Talbot.

At the Maerdy Pit the 13 ft diameter shaft was sunk in 1884/5 to work the Big Vein seam at a depth of 240 yards, coal was first brought out of it in 1886.

Brief technical details;

The surface winding engines were a pair of horizontal engines coupled direct to a 10ft by 6ft drum.

It had 5 bar screens with the large coal delivered into trucks, cobble screens sent cobbles to a conveyor band/elevator and on to a breaking and screening plant. Culm was sent to trucks and on to the Culm Screen and Washing Plant.

The Maerdy was the first place that saw anthracite broken by mechanical means, there was a succession of different  machines used for this purpose until c1890 when the  German 'Humboldt' machine was installed. This plant dealt with up to 250 tons a day making up to 6 different sizes of coals from 4" cubes down to broken duff. The coal was conveyed to the plant across a bridge  by endless chain haulage.

Water was pumped from the pit bottom to the surface  by a combination of electric pumps with further pumps relaying water from the Districts to the main pit bottom sump.

There were various electrically driven  haulage sets with a sub-station on the pit bottom, this also powered electric lighting.

The surface Electric Power Station comprised an engine house, boiler house and coal house.
The engine house contained 3 generating sets, two of which were always in use with the third being on standby for renewals and repairs.  
The boiler house contained 4 water tube boilers  fitted with furnaces burning washed anthracite beans brought direct from the washing plant  to the coal house in railway trucks; feed water came from a small mountain stream.

Men employed;

  • 1895 ; 658
  • 1918 ; 777
  • 1935 ; 782
  • 1945 ; 308

The Maerdy was closed down in 1948.

See also the Welsh Coal Mines site

From the Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site
Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, "No. 2 or New Pit"     Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Colliery Co. Ltd., Parkgate, Rotherham            Manager; Joseph Hargreaves    Undermanager; Wm Evans          Workers;  485 Underground   130  Surface     Anthracite

New Pit, GCG    Gwaun cae Gurwen Colliery Co Ltd, Swansea       Manager; Jos Hargreaves, U/manager Ed Powell            Workers; U/ground 526, Surface 153   Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

In 1896 Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen Collieries, comprised the No 1 or Old Pit and the No 2 Maerdy (or New) Pit.   Xerox copies, [20th century], of schedule of prices (original 1896), containing rates of pay for specific jobs of work in the colliery are held at Carmarthenshire Archives Services."  [From Archives Network Wales]

See also on this site Schedule of Prices at Gwancaegurwen Collieries & Memorandum of Agreement dated 12th Sept 1896

See also Extracts from The South Wales Coalfield. Edited by A P Barnett & David Willson-Lloyd. Published by The Business Statistics Co Ltd, Cardiff. 1921

Steer Pit up

 

 

 

In 1922/4, the   Steer Pit  was sunk by the GCG Colliery Co Ltd, being the third major development by that company in GCG after the Maerdy and East Pits.

It was 354 yards deep to the Lower Vein Seam.

It was closed down in 1959.

There is an extant  photograph showing Field Marshall Montgomery chatting to workmen and their families at this pit during his South Wales visit in 1947.

See also the Welsh Coal Mines site

Cwmgors Pits up

 

 

 

See Extracts from Annibynwyr Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen   and  Extracts from The History of Pontardawe and District by John Henry Davies for a random selection of historic facts about mining in Cwmgors as seen in these source books. Some of these are repeated below in an [unsuccessful] attempt to portray a coherent picture.

The Red Vein, 4 feet 3 inches thick, outcropping at Cwmgors, was worked by Jeffreys in 1833.

Quite close to the above  Jeffreys site, in about 1884 a mine was started at Llwynrhydie,Cwmgors, known as Joseph's Works, as it was owned by Joseph Thomas, shopkeeper from Garnant. At that time , the "Truck Act System" was in vogue, through this the workers had to buy goods in the works company shop.

Is the above the same mine that Ifor Davies in his book says was sunk in 1887 and closed in 1964 ? Presumably New Cwmgors Colliery ?

In an account book of Highway Rate of the Hamlet of Gwauncaegurwen in 1859, Joseph Thomas's rateable value of Llwynrhydiau Colliery was £24, and the rate was one shilling in the pound.   New Cwmgors Colliery's rateable value in 1914 was £1,845, with a special expenses of rate of 2/6 in the £. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Cwmgors Red Vein coal was sold at 6/8 a ton.

Mr. Miers agreed on July 27, 1900, to lease for fifty years to the late Samuel Jenkins, of Cwmgors Farm, the Red Vein, with the fire-clay associated with it, underlying Llwynhen Farm and part of Penlle'rfedwen Common to the west of a line of the Pencaedu Fault, containing 377 acres, at a Dead Rent of £400 per annum, merging into Royalties of 5d. per statute ton of coal, 4d. per statute ton of fireclay, and a Wayleave of 1d. per statute ton.

A boy, when he left Standard 6 in the school, started as a haulier, taking his father's horse and cart, to convey coal from Llwynrhydiau colliery, afterwards named New Cwmgors Colliery, was paid 9d a load for horse, cart and boy. He took one ton to 25 cwts. every load seven times a day, from 9 a.m. to 5.0 p.m. One day the black mare jibbed on the gradient at the Gwauncaegurwen siding, so he whipped the mare, which jumped up and was hanging from the shafts, and coal had to be tipped over the tail-board.

A piece of land was demised to the New Cwmgors Colliery Co., Ltd., for the purpose of forming a branch railway and sidings from Cwmgors Colliery and Brickworks to join the branch railway from the Gwauncaegurwen Colliery at a Dead Rent of £5 per annum, merging into Wayleave of 1d. per statute ton on all articles, minerals, merchandize and materials.[* 18]  The railway which served the Cwmgors Colliery was opened in August 1901,and before the construction of the railway, coal was conveyed by horse-drawn carts along the main road to a siding near the Level Crossing at Gwauncaegurwen, where the coal was loaded into railway wagons.

I have seen a note somewhere that Cwmgors Colliery 'was working' in 1923. .

The Cwmgors Pit was closed in 1964.

See the book History of Coal Mining in the Amman Valley by Ifor Davies 2001 for a reference to Buckland Pit in Cwmgors, in particular the detailed plan dated 1927, it was abandoned before being completed.

See also the Welsh Coal Mines site

From the Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site
Cwmgors Pit     Cwmgorse Colliery Co. Ltd., Gwaun-cae-Gurwen                 Workers;  12 Underground,   4 Surface .        Anthracite

From the   Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)
New Cwmgorse     New Cwmgorse Colliery Co Ltd       Manager; John Davies    Workers; U/ground 216  , Surface  48

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;

  • Abraham Evans (Cwmgorse)   1928-1985   "Lecture notes of courses at Neath Intermediate School and Swansea Municipal Technical College 1928-1935; note-books of assorted jottings and technical notes on coal workings, mining equipment, etc., 1969 and undated (c1935); material concerning Cwmgorse Colliery 1956-1963; National Coal Board publication on seam namings 1956; correspondence from Llanguicke Parish Council 1957; list of books, undated (c1975)."

Personal impressions/memories;

The main 20th century Cwmgors Colliery was a drift mine, the works were sited behind, but just south of, the New Star Inn in the centre of the village, presumably on Llwynrhydiau land . It went down in a south westerly direction.

I have vague childhood memories of a ventilation shaft  further down the valley near one of the farms, Nantricket I think.

See also the mining notes in Tommy Vaughan's piece Impressions of Gwauncaegurwen and District in the 1870s

 

Extract from The Man of Amman (The Life of Dai Davies) by Phil Melling, Gomer 1994. D.M Davies left the Amman Valley in 1925 & played rugby league for Wales, Broughton, Warrington, Huddersfield and Keighley
Dai Davies speaking;

"In 1952  ... it was back to South Wales for good, I bought a house in Garnant, and for about three months I went to the Garnant Constitutional Club where my wife and I were stewards, when the job finished I started work in Cwm-gors colliery. I didn't like Cwmgors. It was dangerous. Good money, but hard work. Any kind of job was better than Cwmgors. The boy that took my place in the pit after I left got killed there, Aubrey Rees, little chap.......the poor fella. Tons of muck fell in and buried him. It was the fault of the managers. They never bothered to shore up the workings. They didn't give a damn. If Id stayed in Cwmgors it could have been me..............."

 

East Pit up

 

 

 

The East Pit was sunk in 1910 and was  the GCG Colliery Co's second development, after the Maerdy.

It was sunk to a depth of 355 yards, down through the Big Vein into the Peacock Vein. The original Big Pit shaft was then converted into an up-cast for ventilation at both Maerdy and East pits.

Brief technical details;

All the machinery here was operated  via a sub-station by electricity generated by the Main Power Station at the Maerdy Pit.

There were 4 main screens with electrically driven tippers. Large coal was delivered into trucks via shutes and lowering arms, cobbles on a conveying band to the coal-breaking /sizing plant, and culm to a hopper bunker above wagon level for onward movement to the culm screen and washery.

The electric winder here was capable of winding 3 tons of coal every 45 seconds.

Water was  pumped to the surface by pumps in the shaft and near the pit bottom.

There was a variety of haulage sets; an electrical sub-station near the pit bottom; the pit bottom and approaches were lit by electricity.

When East Pit was sunk they also installed a new and enlarged washing plant.

East Pit was closed  down in 1962.

See also Extracts from The South Wales Coalfield. Edited by A P Barnett & David Willson-Lloyd. Published by The Business Statistics Co Ltd, Cardiff. 1921

See also the Welsh Coal Mines site

Old Pit up

 

 

 

In 1837  what became known as the ' Old Pit' in Gwauncaegurwen was sunk by Richard Hopkin [see separate  History of Pontardawe and District extract]
This might be said to be when the process of industrialisation started in the GCG area, before that, there were only a few cottages on the slopes and the edges of the Waun.

On 1 September 1847 there was an accident in the Old Pit, the worst in the history of the works, when the rope broke and six lives were lost.

In 1859 the colliery was owned by Kirkham, who sold it to Charles Morgan and Ildebrand.[ History of Pontardawe and District]

In 1874, Richard Morgan, who had succeeded his late father, sold the Old Pit works  to several  [mostly] Yorkshiremen who then formed the Gwaun-cae-gurwen Colliery Company. These men were Fred Cleaves, Joseph Hargreaves, Richard L. Sails, Thomas Bartholomew and Frank Sellers. Joseph Hargreaves acted as general manager, and T. Bartholomew as mechanical engineer and the others looked after the business side.

Until 1886, the Old Pit used a winding plant system for raising coal to the surface from the bottom at 175 yards which was based on a vertical beam engine coupled to flat rope drums. This was driven by  two coal burning steam-producing boilers. This particular winding plant was replaced in 1886 by a modern engine and boilers, still using coal to produce steam but with greater output. Also in 1886 a new pump was installed at the bottom to pump the water out of the pit sump. This was replaced in 1913 by an electrically driven pump.

The shaft at the Old Pit was of an oval shape and measured 16ft by 8ft.
After coal extraction finished there the shaft was used as the up-cast for the East Pit with a ventilating fan installed.

The output of the GCG Colliery Co prior to the Maerdy starting to produce in 1886 was some 250 tons a day.

From the Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site
Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, "No. 1 or Old Pit"           Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Colliery Co. Ltd., Parkgate, Rotherham            Manager; Joseph Hargreaves    Under Manager; Ed. Powell       Workers; 330 Underground    110 Surface        Anthracite

Old Pit, GCG       Gwaun cae gurwen Colliery Co Ltd, Swansea              Manager; Jos Hargreaves, U/manager  Wm Evans            Workers; U/ground 286 , Surface  90   Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

In 1896 Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen Collieries, comprised the No 1 or Old Pit and the No 2 Maerdy (or New) Pit.   Xerox copies, [20th century], of schedule of prices (original 1896), containing rates of pay for specific jobs of work in the colliery are held at Carmarthenshire Archives Services."  [From Archives Network Wales]

See also on this site Schedule of Prices at Gwancaegurwen Collieries & Memorandum of Agreement dated 12th Sept 1896

See also Extracts from The South Wales Coalfield. Edited by A P Barnett & David Willson-Lloyd. Published by The Business Statistics Co Ltd, Cardiff. 1921

Extracts from The History of Pontardawe and District
by John Henry Davies
up

 

 

 

This first section is extracted as written.

See also The 1838 Gwaun-cae-Gurwen railway : an abandoned  feeder to the Swansea canal. By Paul R. Reynolds, Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical Society, 32:7 (1998), 500-505. Publisher: Railway and Canal Historical Society. ISSN 00338834.
This differs from J H Davies' account below in several respects

Coal Mining at Gwauncaegurwen

Anthracite coal was worked at Caegurwen over 360 years ago. Records in the " Survey of Gower " states that the Baron Court of Gwauncaegurwen was held in the eighth year of the reign of King James I, on April 19, 1610. The Court decided that

" all sea coal and stone coal with all the mines and veins thereof in or under the land in possession of the customary tenant belongs to the tenant and not to the lord. He can dig, cut, sell and convert into their respective uses all such coal, mines or veins without the lord's licence ".

No coal was, apparently, sold at that period, but was dug from the outcrop and used for household purposes.

In Cromwell's Survey of Gower in 1610, it was stated that

" all royalties, if any be within the said Lordship, as haultres, mynes, strayes, felons goods, the goods of them who destroy themselves and belong unto the Lord of the soyle, but they notwithstanding, that all sea coal and stone coal, with all veins and mines thereof, and all sorts and kinds of stones and stone quarrys and stone mines not having any kind of metall in them, the said stone mines which may be found, in, upon or under any of the said tenants customary tenements, belong and appertain to the tenants themselves and not to the Lord, and that every customary holder of customary land of inheritance parcel of this Lo may at his will and pleasure, without licence or allowance of the Lord of the said Manor, digg, cut, sell, and convert unto his the said customary tenants own use commodity and behoofs, all such sea coal, stone coal, with all veins and mines and stone quarrys, and that by force and according to ancient and approved lawful and allowed custom that is and time out of mind hath been within the said Lo without contradiction or question, until now."

The conditions mentioned above referred to Caegurwen which included Brynamman, Cwmllynfell and Gwauncaegurwen. No coal seams outcrop at Godre'rwaun, and that was why Brynamman and Cwmgors, where valuable coal seams crop out, developed earlier than Gwauncaegurwen.

The Red Vein, 4 feet 3 inches thick, outcropping at Cwmgors, was worked by Jeffreys in 1833 and, quite close to it, Joseph Thomas opened a small mine, known as Llwynrhydiau colliery.

Jeffreys employed four colliers and, in 1835, Joseph Thomas had two colliers and four boys.

The Cawdor Colliery on Mynydd-y-Betws worked the Red Vein at the same time.

In 1842, these small mines were not mentioned by the Rating Authority. In an account book of Highway Rate of the Hamlet of Gwauncaegurwen in 1859, Joseph Thomas's rateable value of Llwynrhydiau Colliery was £24, and the rate was one shilling in the pound. New Cwmgors Colliery's rateable value in 1914 was £1,845, with a special expenses of rate of 2/6 in the £. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Cwmgors Red Vein coal was sold at 6/8 a ton, and in 1876 the price of the best Gwauncaegurwen coal was 8/- a ton and ten pence for haulage.

As workable coal seams at Gwauncaegurwen were at some depth from the surface, it was necessary to sink shafts to reach the coal. In 1832, Roger Hopkin sank a pit near Caeglas Terrace, and at the same time constructed a tramway to take the coal down to the Swansea Canal at Pontardawe. Cuttings and embankments can still be traced through Derwydd, Beiliglas Farm, and by the Cwmgors Primary School. No railway had come to Garnant at this period. The shaft failed, because when the sinkers reached a pervious bed of sandstone, the water was too much for the pumps. The tramway was never completed.

Roger Hopkin, at his second attempt in 1837, succeeded in sinking a shaft to a depth of 173 yards one foot to the Big Vein. The pit-bottom was at exactly the same depth as sea-level. This pit, afterwards known as the Old Pit, was oval in cross-section with a major axis 16 feet long and a minor axis 8 feet long. No wall was built to protect the sides. At the Quarter Sessions held on February 23, 1842, before James Ebenezer Bicheno, J.P., and Lewis Dillwyn, J.P., the overseer of Caegurwen, Hopkin William Hopkin, reported that Hopkins and Co. were rated at £55 a year and the output was 30 to 40 tons a day.[* 104]

[* 104  Report of Quarter Sessions,1842.]

In 1840, the Company announced that the " Great Wauncaegurwen stone coal or anthracite had been reached at 87 fathoms, the vein being six feet thick. In March 1839, the Big or Milford Vein was reached, and the company announced the issue of shares at a premium of £5 each." [* 105]

[* 105   The Cambrian, January 21, 1840.]

When the " Old Pit " was sunk, it was the only means of ingress and egress to the underground workings. A wooden partition separated the fresh air going down from the foul air coming up. A fire placed at the bottom of a chimney on the surface on return air side produced an air current. One day the pump rods broke and smashed the wooden partition and an explosion took place in the workings. The eighty men underground at the time ran to the pit-bottom, and as fresh air was limited, they decided to put out their candles. All the workmen at the bottom of the slope were in utter darkness, without means of escape, but, fortunately, the partition was repaired and all came up alive.

In 1847, another shaft was sunk to the Big Vein and used as an upcast, at the bottom of which a large furnace created a strong air current. The hot air in No. 2 shaft ascended, while the cool fresh air in the Old Pit descended.

This next section in the book appears under History of Gwauncaegurwen. It has been extracted as written, these paragraphs follow on without any indication of a change of subject and are a little confusing in parts.

Mr. Miers agreed on July 27, 1900, to lease for fifty years to the late Samuel Jenkins, of Cwmgors Farm, the Red Vein, with the fire-clay associated with it, underlying Llwynhen Farm and part of Penlle'rfedwen Common to the west of a line of the Pencaedu Fault, containing 377 acres, at a Dead Rent of £400 per annum, merging into Royalties of 5d. per statute ton of coal, 4d. per statute ton of fireclay, and a Wayleave of 1d. per statute ton.

A piece of land was demised to the New Cwmgors Colliery Co., Ltd., for the purpose of forming a branch railway and sidings from Cwmgors Colliery and Brickworks to join the branch railway from the Gwauncaegurwen Colliery at a Dead Rent of £5 per annum, merging into Wayleave of 1d. per statute ton on all articles, minerals, merchandize and materials.[* 18]  The railway which served the Cwmgors Colliery was opened in August 1901,and before the construction of the railway, coal was conveyed by horse-drawn carts along the main road to a siding near the Level Crossing at Gwauncaegurwen, where the coal was loaded into railway wagons.

[* 18. Miers (1914): The Miers Mineral and Surface Estates.]

A boy, when he left Standard 6 in the school, started as a haulier, taking his father's horse and cart, to convey coal from Llwynrhydiau colliery, afterwards named New Cwmgors Colliery, was paid 9d a load for horse, cart and boy. He took one ton to 25 cwts. every load seven times a day, from 9 a.m. to 5.0 p.m. One day the black mare jibbed on the gradient at the Gwauncaegurwen siding, so he whipped the mare, which jumped up and was hanging from the shafts, and coal had to be tipped over the tail-board.[* 19]

[* 19 Morgan, Daniel (1944): In conversation.]

During a period of low atmospheric pressure, fire-damp expanded from the gobs, oozed from the coal faces, entered the return airway, passed through the furnace and sometimes produced long flames. Workmen descending in a cage wore sacks around their clothes to prevent being burnt by the flames and hot gases.

Flat ropes were used for raising men, coal and rubbish from the pit. On September 1, 1847, the rope broke when the engineman lifted the cage too high, and the six men in it dropped to the pit-bottom, where they were instantaneously killed. In 1848, the Company used a flat iron rope and a safety cage. On the whole, the area has been fairly free from large explosions and serious accidents.
At Garnant Colliery on Wednesday, January 16, 1884, an accident occurred when ten lives were lost. At 5 o'clock in the morning, colliers descended the pit, and after forty had been lowered, the rope which had been examined that morning showed no flaw. Not more than eight men were allowed to descend in the cage at one time, but on this morning, ten men crowded into the cage on its fatal trip. They had gone down many yards when the ordinary steel rope suddenly snapped, precipitating the men and the cage to the bottom, a depth of 150 yards. The colliery at the time was worked by David Pugh, M.P. for Cardiganshire, who was mainly instrumental in passing the Employers' Act. He employed 150 men in getting coal at the colliery.[* 20]

[* 20 The Cambrian, Swansea, January 18, 1864.]

The shaft when it was sunk to the Trigloyn Vein, proved some coal seams above the Big Vein.[* 21]

[* 21 Cantril, T. C. (1907): Geology of the Country around Ammanford.Memoir of the Geological Survey.]

Owners sold the colliery in 1886. A ton of coal cost 6/-, supplied to Miss Jones, Garth, Pontardawe, on October 20, 1881.[* 22]
On July 31, 1882, she bought anthracite coal from Morgan and Thomas of Mountain Colliery ( Gwaith y Focsen), Cwmgors, at various prices, from 2/6 to a ton.[* 23]

[* 22/23  Jones, Miss (1882): Receipt from Letricheux and David.]

Women did not work underground at Gwauncaegurwen although the law prohibiting them did not come before the Mines Regulation Act of 1842, but women worked on the surface at Mountain Colliery, Cwmgors. The employment of boys under ten years of age was forbidden by the same Act. After 1842, the day's work was supposed to be twelve hours a day, but often the colliers, accompanied by boys, prepared the " arms" and notched the " collars " of the timber on top of the Incline until 10.0p.m. For this extra work the men paid for cakes for the boys in a Braint, which was a special kind of wedding reception known as Taithin in Carmarthenshire, and Neithior at Alltwen and Clydach. This was an important function, held when a pair got married. Here they sold beer, mead, tea and cakes, but they paid only for the cakes to avoid tax and licence. The ceremony lasted a week or a fortnight, and sometimes a month or two. The proceeds, which often amounted to £20 to £40, went to the married couple and this gave them a good start to their married life.

With the passing of the 1864 Act, the number of working hours underground was reduced from twelve to ten, but this Act was often broken, especially in Levels and Drifts where underground workmen seldom saw sunlight, except on Sundays. Eight hours a day was the aim at the end of the nineteenth century, as shown in the Jingle-

Wyth awr o weithio;

Wyth awr yn rhydd;

Wyth awr o gysgu

A wyth swllt y dydd.

(Eight hours work; Eight hours play; Eight hours sleep; And eight bob a day.)

At the Old Pit, miners won the coal from narrow single stalls, and conveyed the coal in home-made wicker carts, fixed on skids. Coal carted down to levels was filled into home-made trams with flat wheels without a projection on the side of the rails, which consisted of iron plates on wood. The manager prohibited the colliers from filling more than 15 cwts. on a tram, otherwise the rails would be bent and broken. Very little timber was used to support the roof, so pillars about four yards wide were left between the stalls, which might be six yards wide with a good roof, or three yards wide with a bad roof.

William Meredith (grandfather of Mr. D. Glyn Meredith, B.A., solicitor, Clerk to the Pontardawe Rural District Council) came from Mountain Ash as manager to Gwauncaegurwen Colliery, introduced the " longwall " method of working and discarded the single and double-road stalls. He also introduced a fan at No.2 Pit instead of the dangerous furnace. This shaft was afterwards called Fan Pit ( Pwll-y-Ffan). In 1859, the colliery was owned by Kirkham, who sold it to Charles Morgan and Ildebrand. They were succeeded by Richard L. Morgan, who sold the colliery in July 1874 to a number of Yorkshire men, who formed the original Gwauncaegurwen Colliery Company. The original company consisted of Fred Cleaves, Joseph Hargreaves, Richard L. Sails, Thomas Bartholomew and Frank Sellers. Joseph Hargreaves acted as general manager, and T. Bartholomew as mechanical engineer and the others looked after the business side.[* 24]

[* 24  Buckland, Lord (1927): Booklet on laying foundation stone of Buckland Pit, and official opening of Steer Pit, Gwauncaegurwen, by Sir David R. Llewellyn.

In 1883, the first serious attempt to widen the market for anthracite coal and to getting it adopted as a domestic fuel for closed stoves was made. The first consignments were small parcels of " nuts" with a range of   3/4 inch to 1 3/4 inch broken by hammer and chisel, hand screened and packed in sacks. These were sent to Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne, free in order to demonstrate the great heating power and slow combustion of the coal. In the same year a cargo was sent to Stockholm, Sweden, where it proved to be an immediate success, and a rapid demand followed. The total shipped to Continental ports was far from large, being in 1883 only 509 tons. In 1907, the total export was nearly two million tons.[* 25]

[* 25  Sails, R. L. (December 5, 1908): Daily Mail.]

Every fortnight, R. L. Sails brought the workmen's pay from Swansea by train to Brynamman Station, and then walked to Park Street, turned up Park Lane and over the Common along a path specially made and maintained for workmen to go to the colliery. Sails usually wore a navy-blue suit and a peaked cap. Joseph Hargreaves, the general manager of the Gwauncaegurwen Collieries, was a tall, square-shouldered big man with a powerful personality, and he walked over the Common daily. Many workmen spoke English with difficulty and Hargreaves did not understand Welsh. This gave "Big", as Hargreaves was known, some power over workmen. In those days, Welshmen more readily obeyed English -speaking officials than Welsh-speaking officials.

This next section is also as written;

Valuations of Collieries at Llangiwg vestry

In the account of the Llangiwg Vestry, held on August 6, 1802, the following valuation was laid upon the collieries within the parish:[* 106]

  • R. Gough Aubrey, Esq., Cwmtwrch Level                  £20. 0s.
  • Williarn Arthur, Esq., and Co.                                      £6. 0s.
  • Thomas and Sheasby and Co., Brin Morgan Level      £10. 0s.
  • John Jones, Gwaincaegurwen Level                           £1. 0s.
  • William Morgan, Plass Mount Level                                    5s.
  • Evan Watkin, Mynydd Bach Level                                      2s.
  • John Harry, Coed y falde Level                                           2s.
  • Richard Parsons, Mines Work                                    £20. 0s.

The spelling as in the Vestry Account was retained.

Relative values of the mines in 1802 may be inferred from the above figures. Parsons and R. G. Aubrey were on a larger scale. Arthur worked collieries at Clydach. He sold " Lambskin " coal, i.e. very fine small coal found near large faults in the Graigola Vein. It felt like velvet and, until quite recently, it was specially kept at Hill's Colliery, Clydach, and sold to farmers in Cardiganshire for making pele or for keeping the fire in all night.

[* 106  Penderel, E. A, H. (1965), allowed me to see theVestry Accounts.]

[Gareth Hicks April 2001]

Abernant Colliery up

 

 

 

Abernant Colliery , situated north of Pontardawe and a bit more than a mile south of the Cwmgors villlage boundary, had the deepest shafts in the anthracite area.

In the past there were a large number of small mines, 46 in this district in 1913, replaced by collieries such as Brynlliw and Abernant which were able to raise more coal than all those in 1913 put together.

Two shafts  were sunk at Abernant, 24 feet in diameter and half a mile deep. The Upcast North Shaft was sunk between 1955 and 1958 to 2513 ft depth, and the Downcast South Shaft between 1954 and 1958 to 2961 ft depth. During the sinking, two insets were driven - No 3 at a depth of 2076 feet and No 4 at 2376 feet.

At first coal was worked in the Peacock Vein from No 4 horizon but great difficulties were encountered by the damage near the pit bottom and large roadways caused by pressure on the plastic nature of the shales, which distorted strong supports. In 1962 a new inset was made to the Red Vein and in 1963 production was suspended in the lower seams and concentrated in the Red Vein. At a later stage the NCB drove insets at a much higher level into the Red Vein.

The source book , History of Pontardawe and District by John Henry Davies, has further technical description of this mine's equipment. At the the time of writing  [1967] he says that there " are now four faces working with modern power loading equipment ; one Plough, two Disc Shearers, one Trepanner Cutter and Panzer Conveyors".

To further demonstrate how 'modern mining' has changed conditions for the miners, the on-site welfare block was designed to accomodate 2000 men, comprised of lamp room, showers, locker rooms, canteen, boiler house, first aid room and offices with a covered walkway connecting this block to the North Tower.

The  Abernant mine closed down in March 1988, some of the buildings have since been adapted for use as small business units for letting.

See also the Welsh Coal Mines site

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;

"Abernant Colliery, near Pontardawe in the Swansea Valley, was one of two new 'super pits' sunk by the National Coal Board in the 1950s in respond to the demand for Welsh Anthracite following the Clean Air Act and the rise in the installation of central heating. The sinking at Abernant was completed in 1958 to a depth of 897 yards, the deepest pits in South Wales Coalfield. The main seam worked was the Red Vein. However, one coalface was lost during the 1984-5 Miners' Strike and with geographical faults on other two coalfaces, production rarely rose above 50% of what was expected. The colliery closed in 1988"
Records;- "Plan of the Red Seam in 2 zones, with table of coal reserves (1969), Development and ventilation plan of the Red Vein [1969-70], Abernant Colliery transport capacities (1970)."

Wages and Miners' Agents up

 

 

 

Another 'as written' extract from the History of Pontardawe and District by John Henry Davies.

Collieries were on a small scale, and wages based on a system of individual bargaining. Employers and workmen had little corporate organization, and minor local disputes often occurred.

Before the days of the Sliding Scale of 1875, wages fluctuated, with sometimes a rise and other times a fall. Before 1848, a rise from 2 1/2 per cent. to 10 per cent. was granted, but in 1840 and 1850 there were falls of 10 per cent. Two years later, wages were lowered by 5 per cent. Another slumptook place in 1868, when the anthracite collieries worked only three days a week. During the Franco-Prussian War in 1871-1872 demand for anthracite increased and 10 per cent. was added to the wages.

However, after the coming of the Sliding Scale in 1875, even when the price of coal was at its lowest, the collieries worked more regularly, and thus benefited the community. The Sliding Scale in the Anthracite District really began in 1862. Five collieries in the Pontardawe district signed the agreement, namely (1) Gwauncaegurwen(2) Brynmorgan, (3) Cawdor, (4) Collieries of Amman Iron Works, and (5) Mountain Colliery (Gwaith y Focsen), Cwmgors. The other collieries who did not sign also followed the Sliding Scale.

Miners combined before the Sliding Scale; and the Anthracite collieries were divided into three districts, and Enoch Rees, Brynamman, acted as secretary. They advocated improvements in safety, ventilation, lighting and reduction of working hours in mines, as well as the removal of the Truck System, which was the paying of wages of workmen in goods from the company shop instead of money.

Female labour underground was prohibited by the 1842 Act, and in the same Act the employment of boys under ten years of age was prohibited. Evidently this part of the Act was not enforced, as many boys under ten years continued to work underground at Brynamman, Gwauncaegurwen, Cwmgors, Cwmllynfell and Ystalyfera until 1856.

In 1860, checkweighers were allowed, and in the 1887 Act, miners' pay depended on the amount of coal gotten by them. The amount of coal was ascertained by placing a weighing machine near the pit mouth. Checkweighers, paid for by the miners, checked the weights, but they were not allowed to interfere with the working of the mine. In the 1864 Act, the number of hours underground was reduced from twelve hours to ten hours a day. This Act was not vigorously enforced.

Owners looked askance at the formation of unions or any interference with management. On the back of the pay sheet [* 117] of P. Budd's works at Ystalyfera was printed:

"Rule 9-Any workman combining with others to stop the Works, or attempting to interfere with the management of any department, or threatening to do so, in order to obtain dismissal of any person employed therein, or in order to compel any such person to join any union or society; and any workman who shall threaten or molest any person employed in the Works for the purpose of compelling such person to join such union or society shall be dismissed, without notice."

[* 117  Budd, J. P. (1880): Paysheet.]

Many miners who took a prominent part in the welfare of their fellow workmen were victimised, and often these were employed as check-weighers by the workmen.

When a workman was injured in the mine, the owner was not obliged to pay any compensation, but often such a person had light work. In 1897 the Workmen's Compensation Act was passed. Later, when the insurance companies contested almost every case in the courts, a nasty feeling often arose between the workers and the management. The representatives of the workmen took up the fight on behalf of the men. The different Unions joined the Miners' Federation of Great Britain on January 1, 1899. The Sliding Scale System continued until 1903, when it was replaced by the Conciliation Board System. This worked well until its control over wages practically came to an end when the Government took over the control of the mines in December 1916, and the power of the Coal Controller increased.

Miners' leaders felt that their work could not be really influential unless they had members to represent them in the House of Commons.
Mabon started as a Liberal M.P., Mr. D. R. Grenfell, a miners' agent in the Swansea District, became an M.P.; William Jenkins, a miners' agent, represented Neath as M.P., and, on his death, Mr. David James Williams succeeded him. Jim Griffiths, in the upper part of the Tawe and Dulais valleys, became miners' agent and was elected for the Llanelly area as M.P. An account of the Miners' Agents of the district is of historical value.

William Abraham, popularly known as Mabon(1842-1922), was born at Cwmavan in 1842, but worked as a collier at Caergynnydd Pit, Waunarlwydd, Swansea. He was a natural miners' leader and the Loughor District appointed him as miners' agent of the Amalgamated Association of Miners in 1872. Mabon left the Loughor District to become miners' agent to the Cambrian Miners Association in 1877. He negotiated and settled disputes, and the miners chose Mabon for the chairmanship of their side of the Sliding Scale Agreement. He became the Liberal M.P. for Rhondda in 1885.[* 118] Largely under the influence of Mabon, the seven independent miners' associations formed a loose federation in 1893, and this was afterwards known as the South Wales Miners' Federation. In 1898, it was registered as a trade union, and in 1899 it joined the Miners Federation of Great Britain.[* 119] Later the National Union of Miners or N.U.M. was formed.

[* 118 Lewis, E. D. (1959): The Rhondda Valleys.]

[* 119 Jevons, H. S. (1915): The British Coal Trade.]

Mabon signed, on behalf of the anthracite miners, the Agreement of the Sliding Scale on August 24, 1882. The Sliding Scale, based on the average net selling price of coal per ton free on board, decided the percentage to be added to the standard wage. Mabon was a great. man for settling disputes---a lay-preacher, a singer and a Member of Parliament. On the first Monday of every month, the miners took a holiday, and this was known as Mabon's Day. William Abraham, an M.P. for the Rhondda, made the usual return in 1886 relating to the Parliamentary election expenses; his personal expenses were seven pence, and £25 as fee paid to the Returning Officer. This must have been the smallest ever.

When Mabon spoke on Saturday evenings at political meetings in favour of John Williams, the first Labour M.P. for Gower, he stayed over Sunday and preached and sang at Tabernacle Chapel, Cwmgors. He passed through three stages as M.P., namely Liberal, Lib-Lab and Labour.

The Society for the Protection of Anthracite Miners

Here is a copy of certificate relating to this Society which was formed in 1891 with Mabon as its President. It met at the Tregib Arms, Brynamman.

In answer to a query the following response has been received from the South Wales Miners Library University of Wales, Swansea

"We have discovered that the 'Cymdeithas Amddiffynol Mwynwyr y Glo Carreg' (Anthracite Miners' Defence Union - I think it is the same society as on your document) was in operation until it became the Anthracite District of the South Wales Miners' Federation in 1899. Until that time it was independent of any central control. Apparently when it became part of the SWMF, it wanted to defend and assert the working rights and customs of the area and so it had pangs of being a 'closed society': it's activities were not divulged to outsiders (as of course many of the working customs were unique to the Anthracite miners). More information can be found in Ioan Matthews article 'The world of the Anthracite miner', which appeared in Llafur vol.6 (1), 1992.

Regarding the slogan 'Unity is strength' - this actually appears on a number of NUM Lodge banners dating from the 1950s. It was felt that so much had been achieved through the unity of the miners and major problems conquered.

The anthracite miners certainly regarded themselves as a distinct workforce and as Ioan Matthews says, they had 'a sense of collective identity'. I'm sure the Lodges who had the banners made in the 1950s 'borrowed' the image and the slogan from the anthracite miners.

We do hold a copy of the rule book of the Anthracite Miners' Protection Society, 1899 in our University Archives. I think it is all in Welsh. If you would like to view it, you would need to make an appointment with Mrs Elisabeth Bennett, Archivist - tel- 01792 295021 e-mail: e.a.bennett@swan.ac.uk "

[Bernard Garland  Dec 2001]

Pay slip 1889 up

 

 

 

Although not completely clear from this scanned copy, this is a pay slip for the 5 weeks ending 28 December 1889 relating to my great grandfather, John Davies, who lived in Cwmgors from c1881 until he died and as far as I knew always worked at the Cwmgors Colliery which was very near his home and where he became an overman. However, I now have it on good authority that North's Navigation  Collieries Ltd didn't operate in Cwmgors, the nearest point probably Maesteg. I therefore have to assume he was working away temporarily, although the charge for coal/rent is odd if he was simply lodging with someone, he was certainly in Cwmgors for the 1891 census. I assume the number (1)795 is his work's  number, I don't know what REP means. I would be interested in having an informed explanation of the 'By Work 'calculation.

 

John Davies pay slip

 


Condolence letter up

 

 

 

My grandfather William Davies died [from illness] in 1930 at the age of 50, his death certificate describes him as a colliery underground examiner and I am sure he worked at Cwmgors Pit all his life. This is the letter his widow received from the Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries Ltd who operated the Cwmgors and Cawdor Collieries.

(Here is also a photograph of him in a group of men involved in  the Ammanford mining strike in August 1925.)

As it isn't very clear the list of Directors of the company is;

William Davies letter

 


The Fed

up

 

 

 

 

The Fed; a history of the South Wales Miners in the twentieth century.
Francis, Hywel & David Smith. Published by Lawrence and Wishart, 1980.

Here are some extracts relating to this general area;

Pages 54/5    '1926'

These indications of a shift in political outlook reflected what can best be described as a change towards an 'alternative culture', where social, political and cultural norms were being increasingly rejected. Aspects of this new behavioural pattern had already been evident in the 1925 Anthracite strike. Indeed the events of 1926 were for a generation of Anthracite miners overshadowed by their localised strike of the previous summer. For them, 1925 was their sobering experience in which new attitudes and new forms of action emerged. There was an unusual aggressive willingness; to escalate their strike; use mass mobile picket lines, a network of spies (which penetrated the police), riots and disturbances. It led to the control of the town of Ammanford for nearly a week. There was a remarkable and widespread acceptance of prison sentences and gaoled leaders were feted as folk heroes.

The nine days of the General Strike and more especially the seven month lock-out revealed an alternative cultural pattern which had no comparable equivalent in the other British coalfields. The totality of commitment to the miners' cause was a form of class consciousness which translated itself into a community consciousness, so overwhelming were the miners in numbers and influence. It was a collectivist conception which burnt into the collective memory of the whole region and was most succinctly described by the poet, Idris Davies, in what he called ' The Angry Summer':

We shall remember 1926, until our blood is dry.

Pages 438/40 (The dawn of a New Era ?)

...........................The most harrowing problem of the time related to pneumoconiosis, known more familiarly in the mining villages as 'pneumo', 'the dust' or 'diffug-anal' (short of breath). It appeared to be more extensive in South Wales, especially in parts of the Anthracite coalfield, than elsewhere in Britain and partly accounts for the decline in manpower during this period. From 1931 to the middle of 1948, over 22,000 British miners were required to leave their work because they had pneumoconiosis and 85 per cent of them lived in South Wales. After a prolonged campaign by the MFGB, silicosis had become compensatable in 1929. Parliament restricted the applicability of the Order, although this was partly removed in 1931. Obtaining compensation remained difficult until the 1934 Silicosis Orders provided compensation for any workman who was certified as suffering from silicosis and had been working underground within three years of certification. The struggle for compensation continued to be a problem, owing to the legalistic resistance by coalowners (notably that of Tirbach Colliery in the Swansea Valley, a case which the SWMF lost in the House of Lords in 1934).

To highlight this a `Silicosis Pageant' was organised by the SWMF in the Amman Valley on May Day 1939. In 1942, the Industrial Pulmonary Disease Committee of the Medical Research Council concluded that the disease commonly found in coalminers could be caused by coal-dust and rock-dust and suggested calling both 'coalworkers' pneumoconiosis'. From 1943, all miners certified with pneumoconiosis were suspended from employment within the industry and as compensation they received a lump sum or a weekly payment (the latter was reduced if alternative work was obtained).

The effect on individuals, families and communities was devastating. With little or no alternative work, particularly in such Anthracite mining villages as Brynamman, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen and Tumble, life became a nightmare for the disabled pneumoconiotic miner. The situation became even more desperate after the war with the rundown of Royal Ordinance Factories. Plans to alleviate the problem with 'Grenfell' factories (named after the miners' Labour MP for Gower whose Board of Trade Report established them) at Brynamman, Ystradgynlais, Tonypandy, Treorchy, Merthyr, Hengoed and Blackwood proved ineffective, with 30 per cent (about 5,000) still unemployed in 1949. Virtually all pneumoconiotic miners were financially worse off after their suspension from 1943 onwards One Brynamman pneumoconiotic miner was certified in 1945 when he was thirty-five years old. (About 240 other miners were forced to finish within four months at Gwaun-cae-Gurwen. Such were the employment difficulties, unemployed committees were set up in every village in the area.) He only had work from time to time as a casual labourer and was forced to finish when he was fifty years old. He recalled his plight and that of the locality:

"In the ten houses here and across the road about twenty of us had to leave Gwaun-cae-Gurwen collieries in 1945 ... and only five of us are left [in 1974] .... Eventually, it came now, you couldn't get work.... As you had no trade, it was difficult you see. And then around about 1950, I was getting browned off. There was a scheme came out now where you could go before a Board and settle off and go back to the colliery. I know boys who went before these Boards and they were certified as being 10 per cent disabled, given £1,000 and went back to the colliery. Well, I went back to that Board ... but because ... my father died of TB and my brother had died of TB I wasn't considered at all. I wouldn't be allowed to be employed in or about the colliery ever. So I had to make the best of it."

Pages 445/6

Although 1951-2 saw the high-water mark of this movement, a form of unofficial action continued to be a serious problem into the mid 1950s and related particularly to minority action by groups of pieceworkers. Elected leadership, according to Paynter, was ignored and the unifying philosophy of industrial unionism undermined by 'the selfish interests of the few being regarded as paramount'.

The most serious of these local problems occurred in 1956 at Gwauncae-Gurwen in the heart of the Anthracite coalfield where the changeover to nationalisation had probably proved most difficult. The responses of the Anthracite miner at this time were also much sharper, indeed more confident, even brazen, partly because he had not suffered the same deprivations as his brothers in the rest of the South Wales coalfield. 'Hidden' customs and agreements between management and men, outside printed price lists, had to come to light after 1947. The coming of mechanisation to the coalfield was also very largely a post-nationalisation phenomenon with all its accompanying difficulties precipitated, from time to time, by conflict between independent minded, dry-humoured, 'custom-conscious' Welsh-speaking colliers and the abrasive, alien 'PD trained managers and agents'.

The dispute was national news. One old miner, John 'Saer' Davies, recalled that the BBC programme Panorama angered the locality by referring to it as a 'straggling village' and as being 'as safe on the streets of Nicosia as it is in Gwaun-cae-Gurwen' (there was an emergency in Cyprus at the time). The commentator, Christopher Chataway, had been unusually snubbed because the lodge committee, meeting in its office known locally as 'The Kremlin', had ensured that the whole community did not speak to him. It was not the first time, nor the last, for the outside world to fail to understand the Anthracite miner.

The NCB gave notices on 11 May to all workmen at East and Steer pits, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, with the intention of closing both pits from 26 May onwards. It was claimed by the Board that there had been a 'long history of trouble', with 238 unofficial stoppages since nationalisation. In 1948, both pits were closed for a time because of 'restrictive practices' and in 1949-50 Steer was closed for eighteen months. An unofficial strike began on 24-25 April 1956 because two shacklers at the bottom of Steer pit had been discharged for a 'go-slow'. It was alleged that the miners at the pits had not honoured agreements made on their behalf and did not make use of the conciliation machinery. Eight other neighbouring pits struck in sympathy. The whole dispute had been precipitated by the implementation of the new Day Wage Structure Agreement in place of a 'very anarchic' local system: the NCB maintained that the shacklers were not task-workers but day wagemen and such a difference meant a fall in earnings. After complicated, even confusing, negotiations lasting nearly a year the GCG men were still dissatisfied and therefore struck in April. Similar 'go-slow' allegations by the NCB had been made against the neighbouring collieries of Pwllbach, Cwmllynfell and Brynhenllys. Will Haydn Thomas, the GCG lodge chairman, claimed that the situation had been worsened because of the actions of one of the NCB colliery agents. Repairs had been allowed to deteriorate and for these inconvenienees men were paid extra allowances which were often conceded behind the back of the lodge committee. The two pits were eventually reopened, but only a proportion of the men were taken back and only on the NCB terms of ending sectional action including 'go slow', improving production and the acceptance of demotion to day-wage grades if unofficial action were taken.

 

Pages 455/6

Perhaps the harshest social effect was the considerable distance many miners now had to travel to work. This meant less time at home and less time for recreational pursuits. Family and community life inevitably suffered. This was not new: it had been a feature of the interwar period when mass unemployment had existed in the steam coalfield. But in the western part of the Anthracite coalfield, this was a relatively new phenomenon, which had other repercussions as one social survey of the Amman Valley revealed:

"... the bus for the Cynheidre day shift leaves Garnant at 5.00 a.m. and does not return until after 4.00 p.m. extending what might have been little more than an eight hour day for a man working in a local colliery to one of over 11 hours; the strain which this sort of travelling produces has been suggested as part of the explanation for high absenteeism in the area, in that a man is said to need a longer rest at times."

The Fed; a history of the South Wales Miners in the twentieth century. Francis, Hywel & David Smith. Published by Lawrence and Wishart, 1980. Here is a contents listing, some appendices, name listing & place/subject listing


Brynamman

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These notes were contributed by John Miles (Nov 2004) and compiled by him during research at West Glamorgan Record Office 29/3/04

Pant-y-celyn was on the south side of the Aman roughly where the yard with the lorries now is if you go east up the lane from the Rugby club instead of over the bridge and up past where the stations were.

Cwmteg was further east up the same valley and the site can still be accessed by public footpath.

Cwmteg Colliery

This appears to have been developed by mineral leases under 2 farms, Cwmteg and Blaen Cwmteg both of which were on the south side of the Aman river and backed onto GCG.
The Amman Ironworks originally held the mineral leases for these farms. They appear to have initiated the development of Cwmteg but fairly soon in the process they passed the mine onto new owners.
The Amman Ironworks worked Pant-y-Celyn  colliery (which seems to have worked under lands belonging to Cwmamman and Gorsto Farms (and possibly part of GCG) but not to the west (?) under the Cwmteg farms.
There is some discussion about a Gorsto fault and possibly this would have made working across the fault expensive.

The first agreement for Cwmteg is dated 30th Nov 1899 and is between Christopher Jones the landowner of 19 Lincolns Inn London (a barrister who appears to have originated in the area) and Henry Strick of Pall Mall, George Henry Strick of Swansea - the latter 2 being the Amman Iron Co (see below for some other names).
The agreement describes the opening of the colliery and the laying down of a railway to connect it to the Midland but the connection is to be made through the Furnace Top branch which belongs to Jones and he is going to get a wayleave of 1d per ton for very ton over 6000 tons mined in a 6 month period.
The document confirms that the mine is a slant with the entrance being on the south side of the river.

There is then another lease also dated 30/11/99 which is between Jones and the Cwmteg Anthracite Colliery Co (registered office Cwmteg Colliery) which gives them a lease for 21 years and states the same wayleave terms over the Furnace Top branch. They also have to pay a rent of £50/ annum.

There is then a second lease with Jones dated 30/3/1900 for 21 years just for the minerals under Blaen Cwmteg farm. This names the proprietors of Cwmteg colliery as George Harris Meager, William Gibson Morris and David William Meager and allows them to work the middle and lower veins of coal, fireclay, ironstone under the farm and part of GCG.
Blaen Cwmteg farm is about 300 yards south of the railway and it is only 3 acres of land.

There is a letterhead dated 12/7/1899 which gives the address of the Cwmteg Coll. Co. as 1 Somerset Place Swansea. Later letter heads give it as Cwmteg and also some include the Garnant pit but this only appears for a few years and so was possibly short lived.
There is correspondence showing that Jones had some trouble getting his money out of Cwmteg and there are letters from the latter (dated 1906) asking for a reduction in the wayleave to 1/2d per ton as they were finding it expensive working the mine. Jones didn't give the reduction.
There are some hints (in letters dated 1907) that they were having problems with water leaking in from Pant-y-Celyn and this was making the mine expensive to work.
There is then a voluntary liquidation dated 20th May 1915 and the 'blood sucking' Jones is only worried about not getting his money.

Also the Cwmteg Colliery Co were responsible for the maintenance of the Furnace Top branch.

The GWR

There is a letter dated 14th Nov 1889 about sorting out terms between Owen Morgan, Jonah Owen Jones and the Amman Iron Co regarding the compulsory purchase of some land by the GWR for ''its station''.
It would appear that the GWR bought an extra strip of land alongside the Amman Iron Co's tips on the south side of the track. This land was leased as a part of a farm called Eskyn-y-gelyn (spelling as in lease, lease started 1839) to the Amman Co by Morgan and Jones and the document deals with how to split up the £500 the GWR paid for the land in 1885 when it purchased the land.
Amman Iron Co (named as George Burden Strick and William Harris Francis of Swansea) got £100. The cinder tip is mentioned as being on the land purchased.

Amman Iron Co.

Map showing land they owned or had mineral leases for. The farms are Cwmamman (where Pant-y-Celyn Coll. was), Gorsto (just to east of Cwmamman), Cwmteg (just to east of Gorsto), Ynis Dawela, Bryn Isha, Bryn Ycha (all spellings as on the document), Gwaun Yr Esgurn, Gwter Fawr (just to south of Old Farmers Arms), Goss Goch and Neyadd (this is at Garnant). They also have a lease under part of GCG.

Amman Anthracite Coll Co

There is an indenture dated 1915 between David John Thomas, John Isaac and William Watkin Williams of Brynaman (the Amman Anthracite Coll Co Ltd) and William Cann of Swansea (described as a coal merchant) and Henry Roberts of Brynaman. This refers to Christopher Jones (the 'blood sucker' of Lincolns Inn) being appointed a receiver in 1912 on behalf of the Lessor (so was this the bankruptcy of the Amman Iron Co??), refers to a lease dated 1904 and says they can mine west of the Gorsto fault and under Cwmamman farm and part of GCG. I didn't really understand all of this document.


Brynamman 2

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Collieries in Brynamman (Lower) mentioned in (20Mem)

Brynaman / Aman Pit

The diagram/map in (20Mem) shows 2 collieries in the general Lower Brynamman area, south of the old GWR line.
The first colliery is called Brynaman, and is shown near the Aman Tinplate Works and to the south west the second is Ynys 
My current theory is that Brynaman colliery in (20Mem)  is in fact the Aman Pit which is shown on (old-maps) south of the Farmers Arms at  (271174,213637)   (SN711136)   
Appears to by linked by a tramway to the Aman Tin Plate Works to the north east.   

Amman Pit      Amman Anthracite Collieries Ltd     Manager; D J Thomas, U/Manager  W R Williams              Workers;  U/ground 65, Surface 22             Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)
Pengraig Drift         Same management as Amman           Workers 6 & 2       Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908) 

 

Is Pwll y Gwter another name for the Aman/Brynaman Pit ?
"In 1802 John Jones of Brynbrain, who pioneered industrial growth in the Brynaman district, became the proprietor of the *Blaengurwen colliery. He was successful and extended the scope of his activities by opening 'Lefel yr Office' and the Gwter Fawr colliery in 1819."    (IGP)  

Item included in the Neath Antiquarian Society Collection; NAS XI 1/10/1
Gutter Fawr Colliery, Llangiwg.
Copy report on the Gutter Fawr Colliery and mineral properties belonging and leased to John Jones esq., Languick [Llangiwg] parish, Glamorgan, prepared by William Llewellyn and nephew. Gives list of the properties included with quantities and rental amounts, calculations of coal quantities (Big and Brass Veins), profits and valuation, and general observations; n.d. [late 19th c.]; Endorsed: NAS D36, D34 [10 papers]

In (AVDist)  there is a photograph taken from Pwll y Gwter which shows the tip of "Brynamman (Ynys) Colliery clearly visible" - with Ebenezer and Siloam chapels also in shot.

*Footnote; Known as Blaencaegurwen in other sources

 

Pantycelyn Colliery

See also  under Brynamman 1 above where it is stated; -  
"Pant-y-celyn was on the south side of the Aman roughly where the yard with the lorries now is if you go east up the lane from the Rugby club instead of over the bridge and up past where the stations were."

Pantycelin            John L. Thomas and Son, Brynamman, R.S.O.     Workers;  21 Underground,   9 Surface    Anthracite         From the Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site

The source book has a photograph of the entrance to Pantycelyn Colliery drift.
First opened in 1888 by John Thomas, and 30 employees worked the Big Vein seam, abandoned in 1932      (AVDist)

 

Ynys

The ( old-maps) site shows a 'Colliery' at the spot I take to be the Ynys colliery (270411,213597), (OS grid SN704135) - not far off the end of the modern Glyn Rd.

There is reference to a fatality (undated) at Ynys-fach colliery, Brynaman, also mention of an adjacent Ynys-uchaf colliery
This colliery was closed in 1935 by its then owners, Amalgamated Anthracite.   (20Mem)

Ynys Dawella, Brynaman             W R Rees, Brynaman             Workers; U/ground 2, Surface 1          Anthracite                  Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site

In (AVDist)  there is a photograph taken from Pwll y Gwter which shows the tip of "Brynamman (Ynys) Colliery clearly visible" - with Ebenezer and Siloam chapels also in shot.
This photograph seems to support my theory  that Ynys colliery is in fact the one at the grid ref indicated and named "Colliery" on ( old-maps)


Brynamman 3   

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The diagram/map in (20Mem) shows two collieries; - Blaunwaun colliery south of Cwmgarw Bridge, say between Gorsto and Cwmteg/Blaen Cwmteg; and also Rhosaman colliery

Rhosaman

The remains are shown on ( Get-a-map), grid ref SN 732141 and the mine is on (old-maps) (273188,214014)

The colliery, across the road from the Rose & Crown, was known locally as Pwll Starch, seven men were killed there in a surface explosion in 1924.   (20Mem)

In   (AVDist) is a photograph of a Memorial Card published after the 1924 explosion, and a separate list of the men who died

In   (20Mem) there is a photograph showing Rhosaman Colliery with Blaenwaun in the background and a snow covered Gwrhyd Mountain behind that.

 Index entry for Pwll Starch, Rhosaman  in (HEC)

 

Blaenwaun (Blaengurwen/Blaencaegurwen)

Blaenwaun colliery was the other side of the railway line behind the Rose & Crown (Rhosaman). Shown as linked to the LMS line by a tramway (20Mem)
On (old-maps) Cwmteg Farm appears to be more or less where the Colliery is according to the photograph mentioned below, but no sign of a mine there
That spot is due south of the Rose & Crown - about (SN732138) on (Get-a-Map)

  In   (20Mem) there is a photograph showing Rhosaman Colliery with Blaenwaun Colliery in the quite near background and a snow covered Gwrhyd Mountain well behind that.

This colliery appears to be alternatively named Blaengurwen, Rhosaman as in the book (AVLA) where there is a photograph of a group of miners of that colliery.
The book also has a photograph captioned  " Blaengurwen Colliery rescue team, 1913/14"
On a specialised coalfields' map it is called Blaencaegurwen which explains the Blaenwaun version perhaps

From (HPD)
The Blaencaegurwen Colliery Company (one of the Amman Collieries) had a lease on November 24, 1846
" All coal, culm, ironstone, iron ore, fireclay, clay, sand, sandstone and building stone lying within the or under Noyadd Farm  [see Noyadd below] and Gwauncaegurwen, a total of over 470 acres for a term of 991 years from September 29, 1846."
The Dead Rent was £300 per annum, merging into Royalties of 7d. per ton of 2,520 lbs. for coal, culm, ironstone and iron ore, and 4d. per ton for fireclay, etc., and a Wayleave or right of passage over or under the land at 1d. per ton of 2,520 lbs.

From the Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site  
Blaen-cae-garwen (sic)          Blaencaegarwen Colliery Co. Ltd., Brynamman, R.S.O.   Manager; Owen Powell   Under Manager ; Dd. John Thomas      Workers; 73 underground & 16 surface    Anthracite

Blaengurwen     Blaengurwen Colliery Co     Manager; Owen Powell  U/manager  David J Thomas     Workers; U/ground 243,  Surface 53            Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

"In 1802 John Jones of Brynbrain, who pioneered industrial growth in the Brynaman district, became the proprietor of the Blaengurwen colliery. He was successful and extended the scope of his activities by opening 'Lefel yr Office' and the Gwter Fawr colliery in 1819."    (IGP)  

The source book has a photograph of a group of colliers at Blaengurwen Colliery, Rhosaman, undated      (AVLA)

 

Noyadd, Brynaman ?

Noyadd         Glangarnant & Noyadd Collieries Co Ltd          Manager; D C Rees    U/manager Isaac Morgan        Workers; U/ground 111, Surface 28                Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

Sister mine to Glangarnant, this mine was presumably somewhere between Garnant and Lower Brynaman, but not spotted on ( old-maps)  see Blaencaegurwen above

 

Cwmteg

See John Miles' notes on Cwmteg Colliery under  Brynamman 1

On ( old-maps) Cwmteg farm, but not a mine,  is shown  just north east of Gorsto and south of the R Aman at (272323,213869) or (SN723138) on ( Get-a-map) although Cwmteg farm not shown on latter

Cwmteg Anthracite Colliery Co Ltd      Manager; P T Jenkins   U/Manager Isaac Morgan         Workers;    U/ground 231, Surface 49        Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

 

Helyg

The Helyg  mine was close to the mineral railway that crossed Waun Common behind the Rose & Crown, Rhosaman   (20Mem)

There is an Engine House/Drift shown close to that tramway on (old maps) ( 273109,213505) and this approximates to where Helyg is shown on (20Mem)
This site is just west of the Blaenywaun drift mine mentioned above

Nothing shown on modern maps but it would be somewhere around grid ref (SN736131)

 


Brynamman 4

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Other named coal mines shown on (old-maps) or other sources - not an exhaustive list and doesn't include those which aren't named as such -  i.e   there are several  un-named  'pits' and 'coal levels' shown on Waun Common and elsewhere on (old-maps)

Blaenywaun Drift

On ( old-maps) there is a Blaenywaun drift mine east of where I think Blaerngurwen is - over towards Cwmllynfell, at  (273188,214014)     (SN734134)

 

Cannon Drift

On (old-maps) it's south-east of Aman Pit (271376,213242 )   (SN713132)   

 

Castell Colliery

"In 1935 the Brynamman Unemployed Welfare Committee established this colliery to supply house coal to the members"       (AVDist)

 

Open Cast Mining

There is a feature on the  Pengorsto Open Cast undertaking  in the source book (PT)
Open cast mining arrived  here at the end of WWII - the article includes this  list of 20 properties demolished 'in the cause' in the Brynaman area

 

General remarks

From The History of Brynamman By Enoch Rees  1883/1896.  Translated by Ivor Griffiths

Coal and Ore Mines of the Place

Level yr Office; Level y Bresen; Level Bawns, Level Pencraig; Level Trigloyn a Coedcae Bach; Level Herbert; Level yr Ynys; Level y Cwar; Level Tyrhen -- Abraham; Level Twynadarn; Level Pantycelyn; Glynbeudy Drift; Cannon Drift; Bwli Bach Drift; Medwyn Drift; Blaenywaun Drift; Drifft y Tynel; Drifft y Wythien fawr.

                                              Year sunk        Depth

Several small pits were sunk here and there in the district, but they are not worth mentioning.
For instance the Byrlip Pit and similar ones ---- more water and beer than anything else.

 


Cwmllynfell / Cwmtwrch

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Nantgwyn

 In  (20Mem) this colliery is shown east of where the tramway from Waun Common meets the LMS line and the station, and west of the R.Llynfell.

Nantgwyn Colliery (275060,213000) on  (old-maps) & (SN750130) on (Get-a-map)       [Gill Jones]

Also in ( 20Mem) it is said that Nant Gwyn Colliery closed due to water flooding into it from the Black Mountain (no date)

 

Henllys Vale

 In  (20Mem) this colliery is shown  just below the Lime Kilns at the end of the tramway coming down from the Hay's Chimney Stack site on the Black Mountain - on (Get-a-map) it is  just north of Cwm-clyd at OS grid   (SN762137) - grid ref confirmed by (Coflein)

On (old-maps) there is a coal level just above Cwm-clyd at (276253,213661)    [confirmed as Henllys Vale by Gill Jones]

In (HPD) there is a chapter re "Cwmllynfell Colliery" in which it says "Henllys Vale Colliery, higher up the Twrch Valley, was also worked in 1913"

 

Brook / Glen / Gofer Colliery

In  (20Mem) these collieries areshown just west of where the Midland Railway and the R. Llynfell brush past each other.
"The Glen colliery was on the side of the road on the way to Rhiw-fawr, it worked the Red Seam close to the old New Brook Colliery"   (20Mem)

Glen Colliery approx (274300,212000) on  (old-maps)    (west of the track)            [Gill Jones]
Y Gofer Colliery (same as Glen Colliery except east of the track)           [Gill Jones]

In (20Mem) there is a photograph of Glen Colliery workers with owner Henry John Norman

The Red Vein was worked by the Brook Colliery, Cwmllynfell          (HPD)

Index entries for Brook Pit, 1898; and Gofer Pit 1924   in (HEC)

Brook Drift (Gwaun cae Gurwen  sic)         Gwaun cae Gurwen Colliery Co Ltd, Swansea       Manager; Jos Hargreaves, U/manager Wm Howells               Workers; U/ground 186, Surface  34   Coal Mining History Resource Centre  (List of mines 1908)

 Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;

 

Coedffaldau

In  (20Mem) this colliery is shown  south of  Brook Colliery -  on (old-maps) the place called Coed-y-ffaldau  (just west of Hendreforgan Colliery) is at (274463,211637)  and  on (Get-a-map)    ( SN744116)  although no mine is shown on either map at this spot.

"In the account of the Llangiwg Vestry held on August 6th 1802 the following valuation was laid upon the collieries within the parish"  -
the list includes;    John Harry, Coede y falde Level     2s      From (HPD)

" Coedffaldau and Pantybara in Languke " were leased by the Rev. Fleming Gough to John Reynolds of Greenfield, Glamorgan, in 1825 and 1829, and on April 23, 1839, James and Aubrey had a lease from Richard Douglas Gough."  From (HPD)

Coedffalde       Coedffalde Colliery Co, Upper Cwmtwrch              Workers; U/ground 13, Surface 3             Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

 

Hendreforgan (Cox's Colliery)

"The farm of Hendreforgan occupies about 98 acres of land in the parish of Llangiwg on the south-west side of the Afon Llynfell. The colliery itself was situated on the bank of the river (SN749116). The farm was the property of John Jones of Brynbrain............."
Full article :  Reynolds, P R.  A 'High State of Perfection': Cox's  Hendreforgan Colliery, 1814-1833    (NLW's site)    Morgannwg 30

In  (20Mem) this colliery is shown below Coedffaldau,

Hendre Forgan (275000,211600) on (old-maps)  including brick-works         [Gill Jones]

From the Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site
Hendreforgan , Gwys             Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Colliery Co. Ltd., Park Gate, Rotherham             Manager; Daniel Meredith            Workers;  386   Underground   103  Surface       Steam coal

"In December 1831, the Hendreforgan or Cox's Colliery, situated near Cwmllynfell, and sixteen miles from the port of Swansea, was to be sold or let. It was described as containing 95 acres on lease for eighty four years at a very low Royalty of £180, with power to work without making additional payment containing several seams of Stone coal and Stone coal Culm, three of which had been ascertained and had acquired celebrity in the London and other markets, under the name of Cox's Milford Vein.
The first vein, to which a pit 36 yards in depth had been sunk, was five feet thick, known as the Great Vein. The second seam, the Milford Vein, four feet thick, was 67 yards under the Great Vein, and a third, 35 yards under the Milford Vein, was three feet thick. All three seams had been worked by one shaft. Of the Great Vein, fifty acres had been worked. The Milford Vein had been worked for two years and eighty acres were unwrought. Requisite air pits had been sunk to the three coal seams. The lower seams had not been tapped. Coal was used by Maltsters and Hop Driers, and culm was used by lime burners on the Thames and Medway.
The colliery was capable of producing 120 tons per day, and the coal was conveyed in iron wagons over a railroad to the Swansea Canal and thence in barges to the two spacious wharves for shipping at the Port with a newly-built cottage thereon. The railroad from the colliery to the canal was three quarters of a mile. William Stewart, the manager of the works, stated that £35,000 had been expended on opening the colliery."       (HPD)

"On November 8, 1868, Richard Lewis commenced as master of the school. He stated that on November 11, 1869, " that the greater portion of the children were late this morning, and it was nearly  11 o'clock before all were assembled owing to an accident by firedamp at Hendreforgan Colliery, the children having gone to the scene of the catastrophe today."       (HPD)

 Six men were killed in an explosion at Hendreforgan in 1869   (20Mem)

 Index entries for Glofa Hendreforgan  in (HEC)

"The risks involved in coalmining led to frequent changes of ownership and this is well illustrated in the case of the Hendreforgan mine at Cwmllynfell. Early in the century a certain Richard Jenkins of Coity was working the coal here but late in 1812 he surrendered the workings to John Jones, Brynbrain, who four years later demised them to John Evans and James Cox, a native of Shaftesbury, Dorset. On the last day of 1818 the former relinquished his share and Cox became the sole proprietor. Under his control the works became the largest and most progressive in the area --- by 1831 a total of £33,500 had been spent on it and it had won the reputation of being 'the most complete and valuable colliery in the Principality'."    (IGP)

From (IGP)
Other aspects of the new life of the district attracted their attention. James Cox was busily making Hendreforgan into one of 'the most complete and valuable collieries in the Principality' but one feature of his enterprise, his over-many officials, prompted the following expression of disenchantment:

Mac Cox a'i Stiwardiaid
Mor aml a'r dail
John Tomos yw'r cyntaf,
Hen Walker yw'r ail:
Yna Wil Hendregyngen,
Jack Filler,Wat Llwyd­
Hen ffratsach mor shimpil
Na 'nillsant mo'u bwyd.

 

Ystradowen, CMN

There is a disused mine site on the other side of the R.Twrch from New Brynhenllys on (Get-a-map)  (SN753122), which is about the same spot shown in (20Mem
No sign of it on ( old-maps) but the same spot is around (275337,212257) near a place called Pant-y-dderwen. There is a farm called Ystradowen at (274980,212503) but no coal mining signs near there either

Ystradowen Colliery (275300,212100) on ( old-maps)  (was Ystradowen farm land) this part of Ystradowen is known as "Y Patmws."     [Gill Jones]

 

Black Mountain Colliery

In  ( 20Mem)  there is a reference "During the 1934 stoppage at Cwmllynfell Colliery.....went up to the Black Mountain Colliery, it had closed some years before but we entered the drift .... used a donkey to carry the coal down as far as Llwynrhitie where it was put on a cart pulled by a horse....." 

 Black Mountain Colliery (276300,213700) on ( old-maps) - on the west bank of the river where it says "Foot Bridge",  closed 1913   [Gill Jones]

 

Cwmllynfell mines (Balance Pit and Ty-newydd)

There appear to be two Cwmffynfell mines, not always clear which the references that follow refer to.

Cwmllynfell Balance pit (274900,211900) on (o ld-maps)     [Gill Jones]
Cwmllynfell Colliery Ty Newydd (274600,212100) on (o ld-maps)   [Gill Jones]

Shown on (20Mem) as on the east bank of the R Llynfell, just about opposite Coedffaldau to the west on the other side of the river.
A railway extension line runs down to the main Midland Railway at Gwys station.

"Next come Patches Penpelyn and Balance Pit............... I remember hearing many times of one man from Gelliwarog who was in charge of the bank at the Balance Pit who was known as Morgan Gelliwarog.........."    (HG)

Closed in 1959, there is a photograph of the mine buildings in (20Mem), the colliery was known locally as the 'Clink'
In 1926 they reached the Lower Seam having only worked the Big Seam.
There was a stoppage here in 1934    
In 1932 Penry Davies was the previous manager, and Dan Bowen had replaced him - later on it was Dick Davies  ( 20Mem)

Cwmllynfell Pit           B Thomas & Sons, Mount Pleasant, Swansea          Manager; TGC Seymour, U/Manager     Morgan Davies          Workers;  U/ground  100, Surface 14       Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

From (HPD)
"A Lease from John Thomas to Thomas Walters was made in September 28, 1798, to work coal at Cwmllynfell. It was agreed that Thomas Walters was not to work coal or culm under the fields called the Ffalde, the other side of Cwmllynfell Brook. John Thomas was to have what coals and culm he may use and consume free from any expense of working. The amount to be paid was £46 per annum for working under Cwmllynfell Farm.

In 1815, Articles of Agreement were made between Richard Jones of Cwmllynfell and George Walker of Swansea, for a term of twenty one years from March 25, 1815, of the two veins of stone coal or culm caled and known as the Great Vein, and the Brass Vein underlying the tenement of land called Cwmllynfell. All the ironstone was also included. The payment at the rate of nine pence per ton "long weight ", was to be quarterly. Walker had the right to drive levels, sink pits, make rail and other roads and water courses on the land. He had that liberty to convey water to the water wheels.

An Indenture of 27 pages, in the possession of E. A. H. Penderel, Esq., Garth, Pontardawe, was made on January 11, 1825, between John Roberts on the one part; John James and Evan James, of the second part; George Walker of the third part, and John Reynolds of the fourth part. Reference was made to the 1815 deed and to the Great and Brass Veins. Nine pence a ton long weight was paid. The owners agreed to reduce the royalty from 9d. per ton to twelve shillings per boat load of coal or culm.

Assignment of agreements for lease of Cwmllynfell Colliery and release of a Royalty or rent charge upon the coals and culms were made for a consideration of £4,500.

About nine inches from the roof of the Brass Vein, a layer of pyrite about three quarters of an inch thick was found fairly regular over a large area. Later the seam was known as the Peacock Vein because, after being under water, it had colours like a peacock, or oil on water.

Some extracts taken from the 1849-1853 account book of James and Aubrey, Cwmllynfell Colliery, Cwmtwrch, give the wages of employees: John Daniel, working the Big Vein, was paid £1.15.4d. for a fortnight of 11 3/4 days. An Overman earned 28/- a week; the daily wage of a Doorboy, 9d. to 1 /-; Boy with horse, 1 /-; Engineer, 2 /8; Weigher, 2 /2; Labourer, 1 / 10; Calciner, 2/-; Blocklayer, 2/6; Carpenter, 3/-; Saddler, 4/-; Farm bailiff, 2/-; Smith, 3/-; Boy Striker, 1/6; Ploughman, 1 / 10; Clerk, 12 /- a week; 5 horses for two weeks, 15/-; Agent, --5/- a week. Colliers earned from 17 /- to £2.4-3d. a fortnight on June 23 to July 7, 1849.

The coal seams worked were Brass Vein in No. 1 Pit, Little Vein in No. 2 Pit and Blackband and Big Vein. 157 employees were on the books: Farm, 15; Labourers and Artificers, 25; Sinkers, 9; Brass Vein, 31; Big Vein, 14; Little Vein, 48. Through coal and " mine " were in the Little Vein account.

The Farm paid 9/- to William Jones, Llwynhen Brewery, for nine gallons of ale for haymaking on August 16, 1851. In October 1853, James and Aubrey paid rent of 10/6 to the Leet Court of Black Mountain, for water course, half-year in 1851. The Company paid 30/ -a ton for straw.

Before the two justices, James Ebenezer Bicheno and Lewis Weston Dillwyn, the overseer of Caegurwen, Llangiwg, Hopkin William Hopkin, rated James and Aubrey at £110 for Cwmllynfell Colliery. This was at the Quarter Sessions held on February 23, 1842.

The following list gave the Standard wages paid in November 1875:

Colliers day wage, 4/-; Fireman, 5/-; Roadman, 3/8 to 3/11 1/2; Haulier, 3/8; Doorboy, 1 /6 1/2; Screeners, 3/-; Tippers, 3/4; Engine drivers, 4/8; Carpenters, 3/6; Smith, 3/6; Underground Labourer, 3/11; Repairer, 3/11 1/2 to 4/11 1/2.  James and Aubrey worked the colliery for a long period. In 1913, the Cwmllynfell Colliery was worked by Messrs. Ben Thomas and Sons. The National Coal Board found it uneconomical and closed it.

One hundred employees produced 120 tons a day, i.e. the output per man shift (O.M.S.) was 1.2 tons.....................   From (HPD)

"The nearby Cwmllynfell coal workings were re-opened in 1818 and three years later were taken over by Evan James & Co. which, though operating on a more modest scale, than its neighbour at Hendreforgan, were to become one of the most prosperous coalmines in the district by the middle years of the century. These were the largest of a considerable number of undertakings which got under way in the first two decades of the nineteenth century."     (IGP)

 Index entry for Pwll Cwmllynfell in (HEC)

Pits and Pit Boys in the Swansea area           Published in Gower vol 17 1966             On  Welsh Journals Online
The pits mentioned are; Landore Colliery;  Swansea Coal Co's  Weeg Colliery Llangyfelach; Graigola and Parson's Collieries in Cadoxton; Cwmllynfell Colliery of James & Aubrey

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;

 

 

Brynhenllys, BRE   (1872-1955)

According to a  narrative in ( 20Mem) "  there were two Brynhenllys drifts at the colliery, the Old Brynhenllys drift up the valley above Pwll-y-Gored, that was later closed, and New Brynhenllys down the valley not far from the bridge. They're not shown that far apart on the diagram in the book, but not named old or new as such
Another drift near New Brynhenllys was called Scapa Flow "because of the amount of water in it."

Bryn Henllys Upper Slant (275900,212800) on (old-maps)  (Pown-agored (275800,213000) on (old-maps) is a dam which fed the feeders for the water mills, so called as it's in a clearing, and exists today.             [Gill Jones]
Bryn Henllys New drift (275668,212562) on (old-maps)             [Gill Jones]
Bryn Henllys Lower (original) (275500,212200) on (old-maps)  [where it is described as Bryn-henllys Colliery]          [Gill Jones]

The seams worked were Lower, Middle, Big Peacock and Trigloin.
Brynhenllys closed in 1955   ( 20Mem)

In  (20Mem) it says that in 1923 boys had to leave Brynhenllys at age 18 to stop them claiming adult wages, later raised to 21
A feeder from the R Twrch worked the big water wheel at Brynhenllys which pulled the drams up to the screen 
In 1935, during a local strike over low wages and poor working conditions, the co-owners of Brynhenllys included David John Price, head of Cwmllynfell School,  and Llewellyn Jenkins, ironmonger. There were 2 strikes there within 4 months, the South Wales Voice had headlines "Cwmtwrch Miners' Hunger Strike"    
Gwynfor Roberts, aged 14, and Mathew 'Bach' were killed at an accident at the colliery (date not given) 
There were horses working underground at Brynhenllys  
The manager in c1940 was a Mr Bassett  
There is a photograph of the Brynhenllys workforce pre 1900 (20Mem

"Brynhenllys Colliery opened in 1872, by local Welsh people, and its common name was Gwaith y Poweliaid, or Powells' Colliery. Here, too, the anthracite was of high rank, and the conditions underground were less disturbed than on the Glamorgan side of the valley, and the roof of the coal seam was good."  From (HPD)

"Brynhenllys Colliery, in 1913, was owned by the Brynhenllys Colliery Co.
Later the NCB found it did not pay, so they closed it"     From (HPD)

 Index entry for Gwaith Brynhenllys, 1872 in (HEC)

 See also the Welsh Coal Mines site (under BRE)

 There is a photograph in the source book of the water wheel and workmen c 1882. The colliery opened in 1872 and closed in 1955         (AVLA)

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;

 

Brynmorgan

Shown below Gwys station in  ( 20Mem), on (old-maps) the colliery is shown at (275722,210989) which equates with (SN757109) on (Get-a-map)

 In  ( 20Mem) there is a comment that the colliery was lower down the hill side than the much older drift mine of the same name and that its chimney stck was close to the bottom of Wembley Steps.  There is a photograph in the book "Cwmtwrch from Mynydd Bach" showing  the colliery buildings / stack, it is close to a footbridge over the R. Twrch with the railway on the opposite river bank. I can see a chapel and probably the Lamb Bridge up river from the foot bridge

"1802 also witnessed the beginnings of J. D. Berrington's operations from two levels at Craigfelin, Cwmtwrch; five years later he opened his colliery at Bryn Morgan in the same district which worked profitably for a considerable number of years."    (IGP)

"Awbrey opened a level at Cwmtwrch in 1798 and in the last years of the century a number of Swansea men began mining for coal in the parish. Thomas Sheasby and George Haynes opened a coal level at Brynmorgan, Cwmtwrch "   (IGP)

Brynmorgan Colliery Co, Gwys        Idle in 1908               Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

The source book has a Welsh poem by Owen Dafydd, Cwmgrenig, Cwmaman  (Lament to the Five killed in the Explosion in Craig Brynmorgan Colliery in 1812)     (OCB) -  [ believed to be in Cwmtwrch, this mine ? ]  

 

Gilfach Colliery, BRE

Gilfach Colliery is shown on ( old-maps) at (275896,211486)  on the east bank of the Twrch in BRE -  below Lamb Bridge where Nant Gwys joins the Twrch.
On ( Get-a-map)  it's at (SN758114) although not shown

 

Palleg Colliery, Cwmtwrch Uchaf, BRE

Palleg Colliery is shown on ( old-maps) on the BRE side of the river opposite Brynmorgan  at (275795,211028) or (SN757110) ( Get-a-map) although not shown

 

Craigfelin ?

"1802 also witnessed the beginnings of J. D. Berrington's operations from two levels at Craigfelin, Cwmtwrch; five years later he opened his colliery at Bryn Morgan in the same district which worked profitably for a considerable number of years. "    (IGP)

 

Brynderi

Here is an extensive article re this colliery

In  ( 20Mem) the colliery is shown east of the LMS line and south-east of the Gilwen/Phoenix Tinplate Works - on  (Get-a-Map) there is a  disused shaft and tip roughly where I take this mine to have been at (SN775102), just to the right of Palleg Rd, above Gurnos.

 

Navigation Colliery

In  ( 20Mem) it says " There was an old bridge in those days that led to the abandoned Navigation Colliery the other side of the Twrch from Ebeneser Chapel"

The The Chapels Recording Project in Wales (RCAHMW) has an OS ref (SN75681129)  for the chapel and (Get-a-map) has a chapel shown on this spot which is right where the R. Gwys joins the Twrch

 


Ystalyfera/Gwrhyd

up 

 

Tirbach

In  ( 20Mem) this colliery is shown west of the  R.Twrch and the Gurnos Tinplate Works - on (Get-a-Map) at (SN771094) there is a disused mine shown about where I think this colliery might have been although I can't see it at all on (old-maps) at that exact spot. However, on the latter, up the mountain a bit towards Allt-y-grug farm  there is an air shaft/engine house/drift  marked, with what looks like a tramway running down to the area od the disused mine mentioned above.

The owner of this colliery before being taken over by the Anthracite Combine was Davies (Aberlash) who also owned the Ystalyfera Tinplate Works
The Lower, Middle, Brass & Large seams were all found here     ( 20Mem)

 Tirbach Colliery, Ystalyfera    Pwllbach Colliery Co Ltd       Manager;  Peter Jones       Workers; 201  Underground, 38 Surface          Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

 

Pwllbach

In  ( 20Mem) this colliery is shown north of Betting colliery with a tramway running south-east to a junction with the Railway branch line which linked  to the LMS just north of Cwmtwrch Well Halt. There was also a tunnel which started at the mountain junction and ran south-east under Allt-y-grug mountain.

On the modern Pathfinder map  the dismantled tramway is shown and it's head is just south west of Gelliwarog farm and north east of Betting Uchaf farm, at c (SN745097) 
On (old-maps) there is a 'Coal level' shown south west of Gelliwarog at (274177,209746) which is  (SN741097) on ( Get-a-map) but nothing shown on there

The colliery worked the Red Seam with the mine working drift under the Gwrhyd mountain as far as under Fforch Egel farm    
This coal after reaching the surface then went down the one and a quarter mile tunnel toYstalyfera.   ( 20Mem)

".... near Gelliwarog a pit was sunk on the land of Gilfach yr Haidd with the object of working ore and coal seams   (HG)      [not clear which mine in this area this refers to, might be Betting]

"The Red or Pwllbach Vein was worked at a level whose entrance was near Smith Arms, in the main street of Ystalyfera, and the coal was formerly got by the Cyfyng Level.[see below]
 As the coal was worked out, a tunnel through the hill to the other side gave access to the new Pwllbach Colliery."    (HPD)

From the Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site
Pwllbach           Pwllbach Colliery Co., Ystalyfera           Manager; M.W. Davies    Undermanager  John Evans      Workers;  71  Underground,   12  Surface        Anthracite/Fireclay

Index entry for Pwll bach in (HEC)

Pwllbach Colliery, Ystalyfera     Pwllbach Colliery Co Ltd      Manager; Jos. E Evans     Workers; 56 underground, 13 Surface       Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

 

Betting

 In  ( 20Mem) this colliery is shown due south of Pwllbach and west of the tramway/tunnel junction described under Pwllbach -  it has a short tramway linking to the end of the railway which extends a short distance beyond the said junction.
On the modern Pathfinder map or (Get-a-map) I would put this colliery due south of Betting Isaf farm, at (SN744088) and on (old-maps) there is a 'Coal Level' shown south of Betting Isaf at (274319,208892) which more or less lines up

Also on the modern Pathfinder map there is a disused mine shown right at the junction where the tramway/railway meet, but not shown  on (old-maps)

 

Gilwen

In  ( 20Mem) this colliery is shown south east of Betting at the end of  the railway branch line which extends a short distance south beyond the junction where the tramway from Betting meets it
If the above map ref for Betting is correct then Gilwen would be  on the edge of what is now a large wooded area on (Get-a-map), in fact there is a disused tip near there at (SN748089) .
There is also an unnamed 'Colliery' shown about there on (Kain/Oliver), nothing shown on (old-maps)

"In 1860, the Gilwen drift was sunk ........... a large works existed here [some confusion as to what is meant by 'here'] at one time, when an incline was constructed to join the railway. Ystalyfera Company were again the ? owners of this project, for they had locomotives   and trams running from the ironworks over the Patches by a route known as Railway Fach y Sanau".  (HG)

From ( HPD)
"The Ystalyfera Iron Company worked four collieries in 1881 Gwaun Clawdd Level, Ystradgynlais, Gilwen Drift, Ystalyfera, The Feeder Drift, and the Red Vein in the Cyfyng Colliery. ..........................In the Gilwen Drift, fifty-nine persons obtained from the Big and Brass Veins an output of 13,409 tons per annum of coal and 233 tons of ironstone....."

Gilwen    Gilwen Colliery Co Ltd            Manager; J H Williams    Workers; U/ground 210  , Surface 35           Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)   

 

Ddengae

"The chief local men of Gwrhyd formed a company to open the Ddengae mine to obtain limestone as well as coal for the area. The company consisted of Thomas Gors y Granod, Hezekiah Lower Gwrhyd and Hopkin Upper Betting. The mouth of this pit was on the common between Gelliwarog and Brynhaul. After discovering coal they had many friends. Coal was brought up on drag carts by the hundreds of tons, drawn by horses. It is said that coal was carted to the Black Mountains in order to burn limestone.......... (HG)    

On ( old-maps) Bryn-haul  is shown and between it and Gelliwarog is a 'Coal pits', at (274588,210008) which equates with SN745100 on ( Get-a-map) -  no mine shown  there
Curiously, north west of this mine on ( Get-a-map) is  a place called Ddaugae.

 

Dderi Isaf

"? ... opened a level at Dderi Isaf, and they too carted coal to the Black Mountains for the same purpose but this level was not worked as intensely as ?Ddengae.  This level was opened near the houses of Eleanor Lewis "   (HG)
On (Get-a-map) Dderi Isaf is at (SN746104), and on (old-maps) just west of Deri uchaf/isaf are shown 'Coal Pit' and 'Coal Drift'

 

Hafog Pits ?

"Next in the circle come the Hafog Pits. These filled in 'levels' on the north western boundary of the district."    (HG)   

 

Cwm-nant-Lleiky

"Now we come to the works or mine which was the largest and most profitable in the area, namely, the two 'levels' of Cwmnantllici. These were opened between 1873 and 1874 by Warwick & Co of London, who met coal at the openings of both levels. Pushing in for three hundred, it is said that they never had such good coal as they had at the entrances. They were opened methodically and carefully under the supervision of Mr Daniel Walter, the father of the Rev D Walter, Newcastle Emlyn, and former minister of the Gwrhyd. ? .... work was provided for many local people as well as some from Ynysmeudwy and Ystalyfera, and on average thirty to forty tons in both levels every day. Over a railway known to the locals  as Cwmnantllici Tramroad, the coal was taken to the banks of the Cwmtawe canal. This roadway remains, and until recently, was used to transport flags from the upper 'level'. .............In so far as the coalmine at Cwmnantllici was unsuccessful, the company opened the quarry on a greater scale and the overseers avowed that this paid better than the coal mining...."      (HG)

On (Get-a-map) at (SN735068) there is a disused mine shown quite near the waterfalls at the head of Cwm-Du and south east of Cwm-nant-Lleiky farm
On ( old-maps) there is a 'Coal level' shown just south west of Cwmnantllici farm at (273005,207197) or  (SN730071) and another 'Coal level' south of the farm at (273304,206991) or (SN733069 ) - the latter appears to be more west than a disused mine shown on ( Get-a-map) which is nearer  the bend in the river at (SN735068)

On (Kain/Oliver) there are quarries shown down near the main road/canal and Ynysmeudwy.
On the modern Pathfinder map there is a dismantled tramway running down the east bank of Cwm-du which probably ends up in the quarries

 

Gellifowy (The Incline) ( Cwm-nant-du Collieries?)

"The Company explored further down at the bottom of Gellifowy Farm and they found excellent coal in one place, called The Incline. Then they opened another two 'levels' but failed to find coal in either. They even sank a shaft at the foot of the Incline to the depth of a hundred yards and bored another thirty yards with a drill, but failed again to find any coal seam which would be profitable to work; and this fact, plus the troublesome water, disheartened the Company. When the coal from the 'levels' of Cwmnantllici and The Incline failed on the market, with the slump post 1874, the Company decided to open a patent fuel works on the banks of the Canal, hoping to find an outlet in that way, but their coal contained a lot of rubbish, being a mixture of steam coal and anthracite. It lies in a basin, according to geologists, and is called bastard coal.
 The 'levels' are known by numbers 1,2 & 3, to the workers. An air shaft was sunk in the middle of Gellifowy, but it was filled in by the managers of Ynyscedwyn in 1894 because a pathway went near, but the Company succeeded in .....? boiler (an old ventilator) was dragged to that place. But an order from Head Office in London prohibited further workings. The boiler is visible still (?near/on) Cwmnantllici farmstead. The tenants agreed a sum with the Company for it and it was used as a pig sty.  
Pity the coal was not of better quality. It would probably be working still if it was a binding coal. "     (HG)

Not clear which Gellifowy farm is meant in the above, there are Gellifowy Fawr, Ganol and Fach, but on ( old-maps) there is shown Cwm-nant-du Collieries, with three separate coal levels shown, east of Gellifowy-ganol at (273575,205850) or (SN735058) although nothing shown on ( Get-a-map)

 Cwmnant Du colliery, Ynysmeudwy was opened in 1880    The book has a photograph of the screens in 1983    (AP2)

"Coal was worked on Gellifowy land near Ynysmeudwy, and in the Cwmclic works across the river by Lewis Morgan & Co...."   ( HP)

 

Wern Plymis, Diamond, Gurnos

In  ( 20Mem) this colliery (collieries?) is shown at the end of a branch railway line, south east of Ynysgedwyn Tinplate Works but on the east side of the R. Tawe and west of the main Neath and Brecon railway line.

On ( old-maps) Wern-plemys Drif Colliery is shown east of the R Tawe below Glan Tawe at (278730,209264) with Wern-Plemys Coelbren 5 (MP?) shown next to it
On the modern Pathfinders map there is an unnamed disused mine shown, south of Glan-tawe, between the river and the main railway, and on (Get-a-map) that spot is at (SN787092)

 

Varteg, Ynysgu

In  ( 20Mem) this colliery is shown south of the main Neath and Brecon railway line.
"It was known locally as the Boot Colliery or the Boot and Beer, as one of its two owners had been a boot maker and the other a brewer.
"The seam that was worked was soft and two feet three inches high but it was a very productive colliery for only about a dozen men would not be cutting coal "
"There were seven or eight horses working underground at the colliery and they used to come up to the surface at the end of every day" ( 20Mem)

On (Get-a-map) there is a mine shown at  (SN778079) - near Y Darren Widdon and just below Varteg Hill south-west of Varteg Isaf - and this appears to have  a small branch line to the main Neath & Brecon Railway line. On ( old-maps) there is nothing shown

"The Red Vein was also worked at Ynys-ci  Colliery, which was 1,500 yards N.E. of Ynysgeinon Junction. At present (1964), the same seam is being worked at new Varteg Colliery, where the Company drifted down from the surface."     (HPD)

Varteg              Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Colliery Co. Ltd., Swansea                Manager; John Griffiths               Workers;  103 Underground, 35 Surface              Anthracite     Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site
Varteg             Varteg Colliery Co Ltd, Ystradgynlais      Manager; Danl Daniel           Discontinued          Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

 Ynys-ci

"The Red Vein was also worked at Ynys-ci Colliery, which was 1,500 yards N.E. of Ynysgeinon Junction. "     (HPD)

Ynys-y-ci is shown on ( old-maps) at (277254,208437), no mine shown but it is quite close to the New Ynysgeinon mine referred to below.
On (Get-a-map) Ynys-ci would be at (
SN772084)  

" ' New Ynysgu Level ' on the side of the Farteg Mountain, opposite Ystalyfera Grammar School. When it closed because it could not sell its Red Seam coal .............."   (20Mem)

Ynysci        Darran Coal Co., Ystradgynlais, Swansea Valley       Manager;  Philip Williams     Workers; 42  Underground, 7 Surface      Anthracite       Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site
Ynys-ci             Diamond Anthracite Mine Co Ltd         Idle since 1807 (?)            Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

 

Ynysceinon / Ynys-y-geinon

"Thomas Walters, a Swansea grocer, was also involved in working the coal in the Ystalyfera district at this time [early C19th], notably at the Ynysceinon pit and at Pwllbach."   (IGP)

On ( old-maps) one Ynys-y-geinon Colliery is shown next to the Neath & Brecon Railway line and to the east of where the Twrch flows into the Tawe, and near to Ynys-ci  (277556,208397)  or (SN775083) - although not shown on (Get-a-map).
We'll call this one New Ynysgeinon, see below

Confusingly, on ( old-maps)  there is another Ynys-y-geinon Pit shown below Ynys-y-geinon Junct next to the river and railway, at (276187,207109) or (SN761071) on ( Get-a-map)
Following the explanation below, we'll call this one Old Ynysgeinon 

From (HPD)
" The old Ynysgeinon Colliery between the River Tawe and the railway at Ynysgeinon Junction was sunk down to the Red Vein at a depth of 149 yards. A large flat hemp rope, 10 inches wide by 4 inches thick, made at Hafod Works, Swansea, was used to wind the coal through the shaft. After bringing the coal up to the surface, it was taken on a tram-road which crossed the bridge over the Tawe and through fields to the Swansea Canal. The coal was then taken to Swansea in boats. These were the days before the railway came through the Tawe Valley.
Works were more dependent on the weather then than now. Water supply for the canal was limited during period of drought and, during hard winters, transit was hampered. This was particularly the case in the stormy weather of the winter of 1854. The canal was frozen for three weeks, consequently all the works and collieries were idle. The miners who worked at Ynysgeinon Colliery rather than spend their time idling about, sunk a shaft on the other side of the valley. The Red Vein was struck at a depth of 6o yards. When the shaft was being sunk, all the people discussed the Crimean War, in which England, France and Sardinia made war on Russia in defence of Turkey. The new shaft was christened " Crimea Pit " (see below). An outburst of dust took place when driving through the disturbed ground under the valley."

See also under Tarreni below

 

Crimea Colliery & Canal Quay, Ystalyfera 

 "Located among undergrowth to the west of the main Swansea Valley road are the buildings of one of the most intact mid-nineteenth-century collieries. A beam-engine house and adjacent winding-house of 1854 remain with the embankment of a tramroad down to a tipping-stage on the Swansea Canal"    (Coflein)

On (Get-a-map) this is below Craig-Arw -  and on the Pathfinder map it's near Cwm-tawe uchaf    (SN75680730)

On ( old-maps) Crimea Coal Pit (Disused -  with map date of 1884) is shown at (275648,207293)

 See also under Ynysgeinon above

 

Tareni  (1903-1949)

In  ( 20Mem) this colliery is shown way down the Tawe valley, past Ynysgeinon Jnct. and east of the railway line
On (Kain/Oliver) a Colliery is shown quite near the river and north of Tarreni-gleision, on (Get-a-map) there is a disused mine and on the Pathfinder map there are two disused mines shown at roughly the same spot (SN756064).        No mine shown on ( old-maps)

Tarreni was opened in 1903 by the South Wales Primrose Coal Co Ltd to work the Red Vein under Ynys Wil Hernyn Farm. There were 320 workers there when the NCB closed it in 1948     (AP) The book has a photograph of this mine

Tareni  No 1 Pit    South Wales Primrose Coal Co Ltd        Manager; Thos Lewis, U/Manager   Hopkin Rees          Workers; U/ground 307, Surface 61            Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)
Tareni No 2 Pit     South Wales Primrose Coal Co Ltd     Management as above          Workers;   U/Ground  39,   Surface  20   Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

See also the Welsh Coal Mines site

On 1 Nov 1909 there was a disaster here when water flooded in from the disused Ynysgeinon Pit, with 230 men underground at the time 5 were drowned  - there is a copy of a newspaper article in the book with photographs of these men  (AP)

From (HPD)
"E. H. Hedley, who lived at Alltacham, attempted to sink shafts on the alluvial flat between the River Tawe and the Railway, 900 yards above Cwm Clic. A borehole 50 yards distant from the rock-slope, passed through 20 feet of gravel and 110 feet of quicksand. Two shafts also were sunk to a depth of 50 feet by means of cast-iron tubbing which caved in. The borehole and the shafts did not reach the solid rock, so the Tarenni-Gleision shafts were sunk in the rocky side of the valley, above the alluvial flats. In 1913 the colliery belonged to South Wales Primrose Coal Co. Ltd., The New Primrose, Cwmnantllwyd, and Rees' Drift belonged to the same Company. The Tarenni Pit was sunk to the Red Vein where the workings were well planned with conveyor faces. The coal diminished in thickness southwards, so much so that it did not pay to work it. The Gleision Pit was much deeper down to the Big and Peacock Veins but faults and disturbances made it difficult to work. On Monday, November 1, 1909, at about 1.30 p.m., water broke in Tarenni Colliery from the old Ynysgeinon Pit and flooded the workings. Five men perished in the water and a dozen were injured.
The Rev. Ben Davies, Pant-teg, wrote

O! cofiwch feibion dynion
Yn eich aneddau clyd,
Pan wrth eich tanau mawrion
Yn ddedwydd iawn eich byd,
Y glo sydd yn cynhesu
Eich aelwyd gynnes gu­
Mae wedi ei gymysgu
A gwaed y glowr du.

 Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;

 

Cwm Clic Colliery

Cwm Clic Colliery shown on ( old-maps) south west of Tarreni-gleision at (274975,205791) or  (SN749057) although not shown on ( Get-a-map)

See Tarreni above

 

Ystalyfera

 In  ( 20Mem) this colliery is shown at the bottom end of the tunnel through Allt-y-grug mountain and to the north-east of Ystalyfera Tinplate Works.
On the modern Pathfinder map and (Get-a-map) the end of the tunnel is at approx (SN764085) with the canal running  next to it
On ( old-maps) there are shown two 'Coal levels' at the same spot - at (276467,208538) which equates with the above SN ref.

Given the location, is this the same place as the Cyfyng Pit below ?

 

Cyfyng Pit, Ystalyfera

On ( old-maps) there is a 'Coal level' in the Cyfyng Rd area at approx (276224,208308)  or (SN762083) but I may be way out as the modern Cyfyng Rd is quite long.

Given the location, is this the same place as the Ystalyfera colliery above  ?

From ( HPD)
"The Ystalyfera Iron Company worked four collieries in 1881 Gwaun Clawdd Level, Ystradgynlais, Gilwen Drift, Ystalyfera, The Feeder Drift, and the Red Vein in the Cyfyng Colliery..................Twenty-five persons in the Cyfyng Colliery produced in the Red Vein 4,507 tons of coal and 2,793 tons of fireclay a year. Like the other collieries, it was ventilated by a furnace which had a total quantity of 9,720 cubic feet of air per minute."
"The Red or Pwllbach Vein was worked at a level whose entrance was near Smith Arms, in the main street of Ystalyfera, and the coal was formerly got by the Cyfyng Level. As the coal was worked out, a tunnel through the hill to the other side gave access to the new Pwllbach Colliery."

From (IGP)
"
Daniel Harper, a native of Tamworth in Staffordshire, who was to play a prominent part in the early coalmining of the district, had begun his undertakings. In 1801 he leased coal at Abercrave in the neighbouring parish of Ystradgynlais and was negotiating for collieries at Ystalyfera. In 1801 he leased coal at Abercrave in the neighbouring parish of Ystradgynlais and was negotiating for collieries at Ystalyfera. In 1805 he opened a level which bore his name and took over the Cyfyng Pit, Ystalyfera. An indenture which he made with the Ynysgedwyn estate in 1808 gives some indication of the scale of his operations at the latter:

 

    £.  s.  d

For every barge of stone coal and culm and navigated along the canal to Swansea

    1   0   0

For every ton of coal not taken by barge 

         1   0

An annual rent of

500   0   0

Annual rent for five cottages occupied by four colliers and a mason

  14  14  0

Half yearly payments per statute acre for land used for buildings, canals, wharfs, railways,etc

    1    0  0

Harper also agreed that he would not raise more than 16,500 tons of coal and culm a year.  In 1816 he opened a new level at the Cyfyng and was also operating on quite a considerable scale in the Cwmtwrch district

From (IGP)
"
Coalmining was a highly speculative business during these years. There were violent trade fluctuations, demands on capital were frequent and the geological faults of the district added significantly to the risks involved. One of the largest of the local mines was the Cyfyng Pit at Ystalyfera and it, like the other pits, suffered periodic crises. It was one such crisis which prompted the following tale of woe:

Holl goliers Pwll-y-Cyfyng, mai wedi mynd yn ddrwg,
'Does yma ddim canwylle, na modd i wneuthur mwg,
Na chig, na chaws, na siwgir, na llafur o um rhyw,
Na sebon i ymolchi; pa wedd y byddwn byw?  

From ( IGP)
"Another grievance which received an airing among the poets was the high prices charged by the local shopkeepers. The district, like so many others undergoing industrial expansion, was very inadequately serviced by the retail trade. The shopkeepers' exploitation of their virtual monopoly did not pass unnoticed among their customers and one of them listed in verse the surcharges of one Morgan Morgan, proprietor of the Company Shop at the Cyfyng, Ystalyfera, expressing the wish:

Tai pawb drwy'r holl gymdogaeth
Yn cael cynhaliaeth lew
A pheidio dod mor fynych
I flino'r siopwr tew
Cael sistans bob pythefnos
A chyfri glan pob mish
Mi fentra deuai Morgan
I werthu beth yn ish

 

Mountain Coal level, Ystalyfera

Mountain Coal level is shown on ( old-maps) west of the above Crimea Colliery, up the lower slopes of Mynydd Allt-y-grug, at (275248,207309) or (SN752073) on ( Get-a-map) where a mine is shown

 

Cambrian Mercantile, Ystalyfera  

Cambrian Mercantile     Cambrian Mercantile Syndicate Ltd, London          Manager; John Standidge           Workers; U/ground 74, Surface 16         Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

 

Graigfach, Ystalyfera       

Graigfach      Graigfach Colliery Co Ltd, Swansea                 Workers; U/ground 20, Surface 5                Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

 

Clyngwyn, Ystalyfera

Clyngwyn       Exors of D H Lewis, Ystalyfera         Workers; U/ground 7, Surface 1   Anthracite            Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site

 


Pontardawe

up 

Ynysfechan

On ( old-maps) is shown Pontardawe Chemical Works (see below)  at (272360,203534) which equates with (SN723035) on ( Get-a-map)

Opened in 1813   (AP)

Text from the Picture Gallery on this site
"This is the site of the original Ynysfechan Colliery.
On a list of South Wales mines in 1918, the owners of Ynysfechan (level) are shown as Lloyd & Co, employed 25 men underground and 3 above ground.
In The History of Pontardawe 1911 by J E Morgan it says that this mine, in the parish of Cilybebyll, was opened in 1838 by Parsons (the Primrose Colliery family).
It describes how coal was taken from here onto barges on the canal and transported up to the tinplate works at Ystalyfera.
In 1858 thirteen men suffocated at the Primrose colliery and were brought out through Ynysfechan  and other local levels.
Bearing in mind the 1911 date of the source book, it also says "The Ynysfechan has been opened  for the second or third time just lately by Lloyd & Co".
Latterly became a Chemical works.
In The History of Pontardawe 1911 by J E Morgan it says that a chemical works was built on the bank of the Tawe near Ynysfechan by Jacob Lewis, draper. Some of the first men to work there were the late Joseph Miles and Job Jones, followed soon after by George Griffiths and John Jenkins. The works expanded and is now (1911) managed by Jacob Lewis's grandchildren, Sidney Lewis, Trebanos and Harry Lewis, Morriston.
Now (in 2004) to be a Tesco supermarket

"When the Tawe over-flowed in this way, it compelled people wishing to go to the Alltwen side of Pontardawe to go around along the road or Ynysderw bridge, the way that coal was carried to the canal from the works of Ynysfechan and Primrose."   (HP) 1911

Ynysfechan      Lloyd & Co               Workers; U/ground 22, Surface 4                  Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

 

Waun Coed

On ( old-maps) it is shown at (273842,204936) next to the R Tawe with Ynys-meudwy-ganol on the opposite bank - and the tramway running south to Cwmnantllwyd visible, or  (SN738049) on ( Get-a-map) where there is a a disused air shaft shown

Waun-y-coed Colliery, Pontardawe        SN737051          (Coflein)

Opened in 1828   See Cwmnantllwyd below          (AP)

Waunycoed Pit      South Wales Primrose Coal Co Ltd        Manager; Thos Lewis, U/Manager   Hopkin Rees          Workers; U/ground    50, Surface 20             Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

"The Primrose and Waunycoed have come to an end"
"A pit was sunk in Waunycoed but it was unsuccessful     
"Thirty years ago a pit was sunk opposite to it in Ynysmeudwy, between the main road and the canal - White Pit - and some said that they found coal there, but as soon as a seam was struck it was stopped, and has been idle to this day. Several companies have offered to buy it, but without success   (HP) 1911

 

Cwmnantllwyd, Gellinudd

On ( old-maps) with the tramway running north through Craig-Gellinudd to Waun Coed colliery, at (273754,203891) or  (SN737038) on ( Get-a-map)

Opened in 1830 & 1890    A tramway connected this colliery to Waun Coed, both part of the South Wales Primrose Coal Co Ltd.
These mines were connected to the Swansea Canal by a timber trestle bridge across the R Tawe and the canal extension and dock on the river is visible at Waun Coed on ( old-maps)     (AP)

"Coal was worked on Gellifowy land near Ynysmeudwy,and in the Cwmclic works across the river by Lewis Morgan & Co., and also the old Crane level near Cwmnantllwyd Pit, and the coal was conveyed to the barges at Waunycoed. On top of the incline by the"Gellinudd Arms" there was a huge gear wheel that worked four 'Journeys' of wagons of coal at a time. When this wheel turned, a journey of coal would go down the incline, and a journey would come up, while another would. go from the top of the incline to the colliery"   ( HP)

Cwmnantllwyd      South Wales Primrose Coal Co Ltd        Manager; John G Evans          Workers; U/ground 17, Surface 2      Steam/Manufacturing coal                 Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site

Cwmnantllywd 1 & 2 Drift         South Wales Primrose Coal Co Ltd      Manager; Thos Lewis   U/Manager  D B Hawkins             Workers;  U/ground   65, Surface 16         Coal Mining History Resource Centre (List of mines 1908)

Crane Level

Closed by 1967 (HPD)

This level was near to Cwmnantllwyd Pit   ( HP)

 

Old Primrose, Rhos

Opened in 1840, closed pre 1918    (AP & 2)

On ( old-maps) at (273744,202666) with a tramway running through Alltwen to the Pontardawe Tin Plate Works  - on ( Get-a-map) at (SN737026) on the southern edge of the modern Rhos settlement

"John Parsons, a brother of William Parsons of Pontardawe opened the Rhos Colliery and in 1841 Parsons raised 7,103 tons,
and the Justices at Quarter Sessions rated the colliery at 3d a ton"  ( HPD)

New Primrose, Rhos

Opened in 1895     The book has a photograph of 'Primrose Colliery' in 1920   (AP)

New Primrose       South Wales Primrose Coal Co Ltd     Manager; John G Evans     Workers;  U/ground 247 , Surface  60           Steam/Manufacturing coal    Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site

See also the Welsh Coal Mines site, includes the death roll in the 1858 disaster

 

Fforest-Goch Colliery, Cilybebyll

 Fforeswt-Goch Colliery          SN74080148       (Coflein)

On ( old-maps 1884) Fforest Goch is at (274138,201814) but no mine shown

 

Other Collieries in the area

From (HP)
"Many years ago there was a pit on Waun-ty­yn-y-Graig near Rhos,Cilybebyll, and several old levels in the rock of Alltwen. The mouth of one was by the spring on Alltwen Hill near the "Co-operative Stores." Another one was in the woods above the entrance of Dyffryn Road from the direction of Cilybebyll,and there were old levels higher up at the lower end of Tynygraig land. There is a spring at the mouth of one of them now  - the one called  ' Level Ben Hawkins'.  Above this, on the Rock, half way to Coryn, there was another level called Level Nwncl,and there was some sort of incline to carry the coal from it to the road...."

 

 


Garnant / Glanaman / Betws

up 

General comment

The source book ( OCB) has the following data

Under the parish of Betws can be found the following seams which varied in thickness from 2ft to 5ft.

"No wonder that the old characters were keen to search for the hidden treasure. Tradition has it that Hwliwn and Maliwn were the first coalminers in Bettws,and that they were established in the upper part of (Cwmamman). Whatever the truth of this, there are traces of the work of the old people before the time of Martin; Perkins; Arthur; Morgan, and the later coalmasters sinking innumerable pits here, there,and everywere over some of the above seams in the upper district of the big 'Grenig' fault as far as Garnant, and also down -- although not so numerous -- from Grenig to Cathan. The method used by the old fathers when the journey became too long to drag the coal out was to sink another pit about 15 to 20 yards deep ahead of the work,and raise the coal by a rope and winder."   (OCB)

 

Ammanford Colliery (1891-1970s)

Ammanford Colliery      SN6399212397          Anthracite drift mine, dating from about 1900; closed in 1976        (Coflein)

See also the Welsh Coal Mines site  - which has a good description of this mine which was replaced by the New Betws Drift below on an adjacent site

Ammanford Colliery           Ammanford Colliery Co Ltd         Manager; Erne Hewlett, U/manager James Picton              Workers; U/ground 176, Surface 46         Anthracite                      Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site  

Ammanford No 1 known as Gwaith Isa'r Betws ..... sunk by Henry Herbert  in 1890  [list of subscribers in source book which has a lot of data re this colliery]
In 1891 they opened second colliery, Ammanford No 2 known as Gwaith Uchaf Betws 
Became part of  United Anthracite Collieries Ltd in 1924
Ammanford No 1 was abandoned after the 1925 strike
Ammanford No 1 owned by Amalgamated Colliers Ltd in 1927
There was an adjoining brickworks producing bricks stamped 'Ammanford Colliery'
Ammanford No 2 closed in 1976     
Substantial remains of the old Ammanford Colliery ... the only example of a late C19th colliery in Carmarthenshire and one of the few virtually intact sites in South Wales 
The source book has a substantial feature on the 'Battle of Ammanford' i.e the 1925 Coal Strike at these pits              (BMB)

 SN6399212397

New Betws  (1974-1993)

Shown on ( Get-a-map) at (SN645120) - not shown on ( old-maps) obviously but the area is between Gwern-y-felin and Ysgybor-wen at c (264651,212117)

Sunk by British Coal between 1974 and 1978, had two drifts (intake and return airways) which went underneath the old Ammanford No 1 colliery 
Employed up to 800 men in the 1980s, bought out in 1994 by Betws Anthracite Ltd (management buyout)      (BMB)

Betws Drift - See also the Welsh Coal Mines site and the Miner's Advice site

See also Terry Norman's site

Photographs in History of Coal Mining in the Amman Valley by Ifor Davies 2001    

The mine closed in August 1993 and the site is to be redeveloped

 

Cawdor Colliery, Betws Mnt

On ( old-maps) Cawdor Colliery  is shown at (267531,211497)  which equates with  (SN675114) on ( Get-a-map) where an air shaft is shown
This is quite near a farm/house called Pen-y-waun and also the top end of the Grenig Rd on the modern map.
Also on ( old-maps) is shown a named section of the Cawdor Colliery Tramway, near Cnap Llwyd, and on the modern Pathfinder map the tramway is shown as a  trackway all the way down from the mine site to the main road in Glanaman (came out where a school is shown on Pathfinder) where it crossed the road to the GWR railway

(Penywaun is at the top end of Bryncethin road, Garnant. The tramway bringing the coal from New Cawdor colliery ran parallel to Bryncethin road until that road took a 45 degree turn to the west - the tramway continued in a northerly direction through the fields to the screening plant and sidings near the bottom of Graig road, G.C.G. and just about 100 yards from the ancient Pwll Perkins.
The tramway above referred to on  old-maps  may have been the tramway crossing the main road (A474) near the old National School, Garnant. This tramway was connected to the old Raven colliery.There  were at least two other tramways crossing the A474 in the Glanaman area.  [Comment by Tommy Vaughan])

 

Blaengrenig Coal Mine        SN675115    (Coflein)    [the OS grid is the same as for Cawdor)

I'm thinking of this place as 'Old Cawdor' as Garnant Colliery below was at some point called 'New Cawdor'

 "Brynamman and Cwmgors were developed earler than GCG because valuable coal seams ' cropped out' there. The Red vein outcropping at Cwmgors was 4ft 3ins thick, worked by Jeffreys in 1833 and quite close by Joseph Thomas opened the small Llwynrhidiau colliery. Jeffreys employed 4 colliers and in 1835 Thomas had 2 colliers and 4 boys . Cawdor colliery on Mynydd y Bettws worked the Red Vein at the same time"      (HPD)

Cawdor, Glanamman        David Jones & Sons, Garnant       Manager; M W Davies     U/manager Thos Llewellyn      Workers; U/ground 28, Surface 12      Household/Manufacturing coal      Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site   

 

Garnant Colliery (or New Cawdor)

Garnant Colliery is shown on ( old-maps 1891) at (269623,212440) which fits in with the 'below Graig Rd' description below for the Cwdor screens photograph.
This matches a disused Mine at (SN696124) on ( Get-a-map) - to the left of the river and  railway line

The screens of Cawdor (New?) [below Graig Rd], GCG - photograph in History of Coal Mining in the Amman Valley by Ifor Davies 2001   

The source book has a photograph of the New Cawdor Mine - "The last coal loaded previous to the National Miners strike of 1912"    (AVDist)

Holdings detailed on Archives Network Wales ;   Llanelli Library Plans, include    " ..............plan of the Cawdor Colliery, Brynamman, undated (c1850-1950)"

 The Coal Mining History Resource Centre has the following notes which in my current uncertainty would seem more relevant to a drift mine down in the valley  i.e  New Cawdor than an assumed shaft mine on top of the mountain - although they need not all relate to the same mine of course.

Pwll Perkins

Probably the oldest pit in the area  ( HCM)

The Garnant Colliery Disaster - on Dave Michael's site  - also data on Garnant Colliery
From this site it appears that the original Pwll Perkins shaft and water wheel were on the other side of the road to the shaft that the tragedy occurred at in 1884 which was apparently on the Garnant Colliery site

Pwll Perkins - on this site

Pwll Perkins - on the Welsh Coal Mines site

See also Terry Norman's site 

 

Tirbach

Tirbach farm is shown just north of the R. Garnant on ( old-maps) at (269593,213093) and on ( Get-a-map) at c (SN695130)

"In connection with the old collieries,the first explosion I have information about in this district happened about 75 years ago, when three residents of Upper Bettws were severely burnt. The story of this accident goes like this:- Shon Gruffydd of Brynhynydd had opened a colliery on Tirbach, Northeast of the river Garnant, and he employed some colliers there. One morning the colliers came out claiming that there was fire in the mine, and they refused to venture in there again. When the owner heard this he went into a temper and began to scold them loudly and calling them improper names,and shouted "What sense is there in saying that there's fire in water?" (It appears that it was a very wet mine at the time). "Go on in, Rhysin," he told his servant,"get a lantern and we'll go in." And in they went, with another collier with them, but before long they received the most terrible fiery blast that ever happened in the history of the earth. When they came out, Twm Barna, (T.Jones, who had been raised by Barna, Twyn Nicholas, Nantmain) ran headlong into the Neuadd Mill pond; Rhys Evans, (the servant) dived into the Garnant river, while Shon Gruffydd kept shouting for Leah (his wife) insisting that he was dying from the agony of his pain. It was a long time before they were restored to health because burns were unfamiliar at that time, but the fiery element left its indelible impression in an exceptional way on their faces and hands until they were in their graves,and taught them the truth of  "Do not count the foal until you see its head," and "Caution is better than gold."    (OCB)

 

Gelliceidrim, Glanaman (1891-1957)

Opened in 1891 and not named as such on the 1891 dated ( old-maps)
On ( old-maps) there are several old coal pits near to both Gelli-caedrum-uchaf and isaf farms
On ( Get-a-map) there are coal levels shown near to Gelliceidrim-fach farm as well - at (SN684118)

Holdings detailed on Archives Network Wales ;   Llanelli Library Plans, include    " ..............plans of Gelly Ceidrim Colliery, near Glanamman, 1900-1928"

See also the Welsh Coal Mines site

Gelliceidrim          Gelliceidrim Collieries Co. Ltd., 13, Cambrian Place, Swansea       Manager; Morgan Morgan, U/manager Philip Rees       Workers; U/ground 153, Surface 28       Anthracite       Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site   

250 lives saved my 7 men in flooding incident of 1929   (HCM)      See the names of the 7 men on   History of Coal Mining in the Amman Valley

Photographs in History of Coal Mining in the Amman Valley by Ifor Davies 2001

The source book has a photograph of this colliery which closed in 1957. The colliery was opened mainly through the efforts of Richard Martin, a Swansea solicitor   
Also has a photograph of a group of Gelliceidrim workers with their horse and dogs at the turn of the century (c1900)    (AVLA)

  The source book has a photograph of a group of surface workers outside the lamproom at Gelliceidrym, one is named as Ernie James a pioneer of First Aid in Mines in this area     (AVDist) 

"Harry Jones, John Davies, Phillip Isaac and Fred James, four Gelliceidrym colliers, were found guilty and sentenced to 14 days at Carmarthen Assizes for unlawful assembly and riot at the colliery on 23 July 1925. According to a local newspaper report, "They were released at 7.45 a.m. on Saturday, 12th December 1925, and were met outside Swansea Gaol by a large number of their comrades, and given a great reception. Afterwards the whole company partook of breakfast at The Mackworth Hotel and were then taken to the Chapman Studios for the (above) picture before returning to their homes in the Amman Valley."           (AVDist) 

 

Glanamman Colliery

Details of extant records on Archives Network Wales for the following;

 

Middle Aman Colliery

Shown on ( old-maps) just south-west of New Bethel Ind chapel (which is on the main road) at (267971,213408) and it appears to have a tramway down to the GWR  - also very near to Ceidrim Rd on modern map.        On ( Get-a-map) it is at (SN679134)
Gelliceidrim Uchaf farm is south of this mine

 

Ty-llwyd Colliery

Ty-llwyd Colliery is shown on ( old-maps) north of the main road/railway at (267758,213883) or on ( Get-a-map)  (SN677138) on Folland Rd, Glanaman although not shown

 

Brynlloi  (1757-?)

On ( old-maps) there's a tramway running down to the GWR from 'old coal levels' and 'coal pit' at c (267424,213397) just above Bryn-lloi farm with a tramway running down to the main road/railway.    On ( Get-a-map) at (SN674133) although not shown

In 1757 Bryn-lloi was owned by David Morgan    (BMB)

Brynlloi (Pumping Pit)   Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries Ltd     Manager; E J Thomas, U/manager E Thomas     No workers shown, idle ?       From Coal Mining Resource Centre (1938 list)

March 1938 - "GCG Luxury Coal" - apparently large lump coal from the machine cut Brynlloi seam was proving successful in markets and had even been exhibited in Paris museums! " From this site's Notes from the Amman Valley Chronicle

" .... [there was] a well known colliery on Brynlloi working coal as far back as 1757 (according to an old chronicle of the well known Jonathan Morgan, who was born at Brynlloi in 1778 ....... ... owned by one David Morgan, .......was worked by means of a canal that went into the bowels of the earth, and the coal was brought out in a boat built of oak,the remains of which can still be seen in the loft of the cowshed at Brynlloi to this day. It measures 14 feet in length by four feet wide, and two feet 3 inches in depth. When the o ld colliery was re-opened at the beginning of 1862 by Mr Henry Richards of Brynamman, the measurements of Mr Watkin Williams, manager of the Brynamman collieries, put the length of the canal at 640 links, going directly South; the width at 4 feet 4 inches,with about 5 feet 6 inches of headroom, and the sides cut upright like walls. At the far end of the canal there was an 'incline' 145 links long, rising at a grade of about 1 foot per yard until it reached the coal bed. In the old workings, on the incline, there was the old 'hurdle' that was used on top of the boat,.........There was also the remains of old posts and one pair of timbers mortised to fit like the frame of a door. It appears that the coal was allowed to descend over the incline in a 'dray' or small cart, by a rope or light chain from a winder which was at the top. The coal was worked by the old method of pillar and stall, with a bank on one side. It all revealed the skill and effort of the old underground workers,considering the disadvantages of the period."  (OCB)

 

Gors-y-Garnant Colliery

Gors-y-Garnant Colliery is shown on ( old-maps) at (269440,212983) or (SN694129) on ( Get-a-map) which shows a disused shaft thereabouts

"Site plans for   Gors-y-Garnant Colliery also show the location of Garnant Colliery...."   Dave Michael's site

"On January 1, 1908, the G.W.R, inaugurated a passenger service from Garnant to Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen by a steam railcar. Halts were opened at Gors-y-Garnant, Red Lion Crossing, and the terminus ; the latter was just west of the level crossing."        Railways at Gwauncaegurwen on this site

 In 1761 Gors-y-garnant farm comprised 81 acres, it adjoined Cwm-y-garnant farm which later became the site of Garnant Colliery   (CMN RO Stepney estate records)

 

Raven, Garnant  (1854-1936)

Presumably gets its name from the Raven Inn just below it on the main road -shown on ( old-maps) at (268889,212995) which equates with (SN688129) on ( Get-a-map) although nothing shown on latter

In Jolly Rd, Garnant         (HCM)

Raven, Garnant          Consolidated Anthracite Collieries Ltd         Manager; L H Hodgson     "Reopening"                Anthracite    Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site

See also the Welsh Coal Mines site

Photograph in History of Coal Mining in the Amman Valley by Ifor Davies 2001   

The source book has a photograph of a general view of the mine.
The owner in 1854 was J Strick, changed hands several times, in 1924 owned by  Raven Anthracite Colliery Ltd and had 485 workers.
A year before closure in 1936 it had 332    (AVDist) 

The Dynevor (Neath Abbey) records at W Glamorgan Archives includes  "correspondence concerning damage to property from mine workings of Raven colliery, Garnant, Carmarthenshire"

 

Lamb, Garnant   (Gwaith y Lamb)

Named after the adjoining Lamb pub in Garnant -  a drift mine, under Betws Mountain.
The overhead tramway allowed coal to be taken to the screening machines and then on to the trucks on the railway tracks below.
Here is an article re Gwaith y Lamb - and a photograph on the  Picture Gallery

The source book has a photograph of coal screens at Lamb Colliery, Garnant     (AVDist)

 

Dynevor & Maes Quarry Colliery, Betws Mnt

Dynevor & Maes Quarry Colliery on ( old-maps) at (264055,211488)  and on  ( Get-a-map)  - at (SN640114) although not shown

Dynevor, Glanaman      M. Moxham, Swansea       Manager; D Thomas      Workers; U/ground 20, Surface 6      Anthracite          Peak District Welsh Mines in 1896 site

Dynevor            
Maesquarre (1870)     (BMB)

"There is also information on small collieries being worked in the lower part of Bettws by Williams, Maescware, ...........This was around 1820 - 1830. .......Later,about 50 years ago, an important colliery was opened at the above place by a Griffith Jones. He had a small engine raising the coal from the pit, which he sold as domestic coal and lime burning coal.
There were some works after this on Glyncywarch and Plas-y-Bettws held by the late William Morris, Bridgend."   (OCB)

 

Mount, Betws Mnt

'Old Coal level' near Butchers Arms shown on ( old-maps) at (264715,210353)  - on ( Get-a-map) at (SN647103) although not shown

Opened 1870, closed 1959   (HCM)      

Known locally as Butchers Colliery from nearby pub of that name (now Scotch Pine)    
The source book has a feature on this mine     (BMB)

 

Glyn-Moch Colliery

Glyn-moch Colliery is shown on ( old-maps) at (266098,212942), it has a tramway down to the main road/railway just along from the Farmers Arms, on ( Get-a-map) it's at (SN660129) where there is a shaft shown

Glynmoch mine is till working today [2000]    (BMB)

Are Ystrad and Glyn-moch the same place ?

Ystrad, Glanaman

Still producing coal in 2001  (HCM)

PANTYGASSEG COLLIERY TORFEN, SOUTH WALES; Licensee Dragon Coal Corp Ltd, Ystrad Colliery, Glynmoch, Ammanford      Mining Advice site  - list of mines working in 2000

 

Pwll Jonathon, Betws Mnt

Twll-gwyn farm is just north east of Cawdor Colliery - on ( old-maps) at (267872,211797) with a quarry nearby - and at (SN678117) on ( Get-a-map) although not shown

"Another colliery that was quite well known for a while was Pwll Jonathan. This stood above Twllgwyn on Bettws Mountain. It was sunk around 1815 to the Red Seam by Jonathan Morgan ........ and produced coal for the next few years. One strange thing was the method used by the old men which was described to the late Roger Rees, Gorslydan. When sinking through rock, their rule was to make a hole to a certain depth, then place powder in its base, then pack earth and stamp hard on it leaving a wire hole. The wire would then be pulled out and powder poured in its place with a little powder spread around the top of the hole, and away they would go. On reaching the surface, they would throw half a shovelful of hot coals from a nearby brazier down the hole, and the blast would go off without delay. Here again the coal was raised by a winder turned by big young men, the giants of those early days. The name of one of these colliers was Dai Shon Dafydd Rees. The coal was transported from the works in panniers on the backs of horses. This was before wheeled vehicles had become familiar in our country. I believe this is the reason for the many narrow roads - our forefathers intended them to be only wide enough for horse traffic. The wages at that time was around 10 pence (about 4 new pence) per day."   (OCB)

 

Other small mines

 

Ammanford


Accident at Old Pit on 1 September 1847

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Contributed by Caryl Jones - Morgan Davies and William Williams are both her 3x Great Grandfathers

From the Cambrian Newspaper, 3 September 1847

FRIGHTFUL ACCIDENT - (Six lives lost) - On Wednesday last, the neighbourhood of Waun-Cae-Gurwen in the Swansea Vale, was thrown into a state of the greatest consternation, in consequences of the occurrence of another of those melancholy colliery accidents which have so often taken place during the last few years in the Principality. It appears that that on Tuesday evening last, about six o'clock David Matthews aged 36, Evans Rees 37, John Lewis 28, John Mainwaring 30, Richard Williams 18, and Thomas Rees 17 all colliers went down Mr Townsend Kirkhouse Wood's coal pit and remained there until three o'clock the following morning when Morgan Davies, who had the care of the engine for the last nine years, heard the blowing of the horn at the bottom of the pit - the signal usually given by colliers. The platform was then at the bottom of the pit. After the signal was given, the engine was put to raise the carriage or platform up. Soon afterwards Morgan Davies saw the flash of the men's candles from the top of the pit and heard the crash of the carriage, when a short distance from the top, falling down. There was not one person present at the time but himself. He then went to the house of William Williams and gave the alarm and Williams and several others were immediately let down by a chain the other side of the pit. They were shortly afterwards drawn up and reported that all the men were killed. On viewing the chain, it was found that one of the links which had a small flaw in it had broken. This caused the accident and the precipitation of six persons to a depth of nearly 90 fathoms. As might be expected from such a fall, the poor fellows were literally dashed to pieces, and, when brought up, their remains presented a sad spectacle. On Thursday an inquest on view of tow of the bodies was held at the Leigh Arms, Waun-Cae-Gurwen, before Charles Collins, Esq., when, after a minute investigation, a verdict of "Accidental death" was returned, to which was appended a suggestion, that a proper person should be placed at all times at the mouth of the pit. There were two juries sworn, and the same verdict was returned by each. David Matthews has left a wife and three children; Evan Rees a wife and three children, and John Lewis, a wife and two children, to lament their unhappy fate. The other three were single men


THE INDUSTRIALIZATION OF A GLAMORGAN PARISH

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The article THE INDUSTRIALIZATION OF A GLAMORGAN PARISH (Llangiwg); By Hugh Thomas, National Library of Wales journal Winter, 1975, Vol XIX/2 has the following references to local coal mining;

"The opening of the canal was the occasion for a much more extensive exploitation of the coal measures of the district. The geological structure of the valley, characterised by its frequent outcrops of coal, made it possible to work the coal without needing much in the way of initial capital investment. Awbrey opened a level at Cwmtwrch in 1798 and in the last years of the century a number of Swansea men began mining for coal in the parish. Thomas Sheasby and George Haynes opened a coal level at Brynmorgan, Cwmtwrch; Edward Martin, a mineral surveyor who was already involved in the industrial development of the lower part of the valley, worked levels near Gwys, and William Arthur and Thomas Walters opened a level at Cwmllynfell. The Ynysgedwyn estate papers for 1798 also contain reference to some seven other coal workings in the Ystalyfera district."

 "The early years of the century saw other men busy in other parts of the parish and its environs. In 1802 John Jones of Brynbrain, who pioneered industrial growth in the Brynaman district, became the proprietor of the Blaengurwen colliery. He was successful and extended the scope of his activities by opening 'Lefel yr Office' and the Gwter Fawr colliery in 1819.   1802 also witnessed the beginnings of J. D. Berrington's operations from two levels at Craigfelin, Cwmtwrch; five years later he opened his colliery at Bryn Morgan in the same district which worked profitably for a considerable number of years. The risks involved in coalmining led to frequent changes of ownership and this is well illustrated in the case of the Hendreforgan mine at Cwmllynfell. Early in the century a certain Richard Jenkins of Coity was working the coal here but late in 1812 he surrendered the workings to John Jones, Brynbrain, who four years later demised them to John Evans and James Cox, a native of Shaftesbury, Dorset. On the last day of 1818 the former relinquished his share and Cox became the sole proprietor. Under his control the works became the largest and most progressive in the area --- by 1831 a total of £33,500 had been spent on it and it had won the reputation of being 'the most complete and valuable colliery in the Principality'.  The nearby Cwmllynfell coal workings were re-opened in 1818 and three years later were taken over by Evan James & Co. which, though operating on a more modest scale, than its neighbour at Hendreforgan, were to become one of the most prosperous coalmines in the district by the middle years of the century. These were the largest of a considerable number of undertakings which got under way in the first two decades of the nineteenth century. The overall progress is reflected in the quantity of coal transported along the canal from the upper end of the valley. By 1820 this had reached the substantial total of 66,104 tons a year. "

"A major change occurred in 1826 with the collapse of the Harper interest in the financial crises of that year. Daniel's son Thomas was made bankrupt and the Harper lease was carried on by the partnership of Sheasby and Trotter until it terminated in 1829.   It was during these years that Benjamin Treacher and Evan James of Swansea first made their impression on the neighbourhood. In 1827 they found two very rich seams of coal and in 1830 Treacher, with three other Swansea coal merchants, leased the Cyfyng Pit.   Two years later James replaced Treacher's partners and they agreed to pay R. D. Gough an annual rent of £350 and royalties of 11s. for every barge of coal transported to Swansea as well as 6d. per ton transported otherwise and a rent of 14 guineas for cottages attached to the pit.   By the mid-thirties, then, the parish was committed to coal­mining on a relatively substantial scale, though the major step forward in its industrialization had to await another development, the growth of iron manufacture."

The progess of coalmining inevitably had its consequences for the parish. Population increased significantly from the 829 of 1801 to the 2,813 of 1841, largely as a result of immigration into the parish for by the latter year 946, nearly one-third of the parish's inhabitants, had been born outside the county of Glamorgan. There was a marked change in the occupational pattern of the parish --- between 1801 and 1831 the numbers of families dependent upon occupations other than agriculture had risen from 41 to 126.   This change is illustrated by the baptismal register of the three Independent chapels of Pantteg, Carmel and Alltwen. The last named is in the neighbouring parish of Cilybebyll, but it is possible to identify those parents who were inhabitants of Llangiwg. Between 1826 and 1837 the minister of these three chapels, Rev. Philip Griffiths, recorded the occupations of 190 fathers whose 325 children he baptised. The largest group among them were the colliers who totalled 96, although 21 of these were first recorded as labourers. It would appear that these latter either started their working lives or came to the district to work as labourers but during these eleven years changed their occupations to coalmining. The following are the parental occupations represented in the baptismal registers: Colliers-96*; Labourers - 48*; Farmers -- 43; Carpenters -- 5; Tailors -- 4; Weavers, Publicans, Cordwinders -- 3 each; Engineers, Hauliers - 2 each; Shopkeepers, Masons-- 1 each. (*Contain the 21 men who transferred from labouring to coalmining.)     While it cannot be claimed that this occupational breakdown is comprehensive it does indicate the changes taking place and agrees closely with the pattern which emerges from the enumerators' census return for 1841. 38  By this year the total population of the parish had grown to 2,813 of whom 946 had been born outside the county. Worthy of note also is the fact that the most significant growth had taken place in those parts of the parish which had witnessed the most mumerous coalmining undertakings, Alltygrug and Caegurwen. In the case of the former the 197 inhabitants of 1801 had grown to 1,078 in 1841, while the latter's 224 had increased to 843 during the same period"

"The expansion in iron production inevitably created a heavy demand for local coal. The middle decades of the century saw the expansion of existing mines and the sinking of new ones in the parish and the neighbouring districts. The hamlets most affected by coalmining were Caegurwen --- at Cwmtwrch, Cwmllynfell, Brynaman and Gwaun-cae-gurwen --- and Alltygrug --- at Ystalyfera and in Godre'rgraig and Ynysmeudwy. The Parish Rate Book for 1854 gives some indication of the scale of operations at this time. It records that together the coal­mines of the parish contributed a total of some £1,435 to the parish rate, varying from the Cwmllynfell Collieries' contribution of £380 to the Brynmorgan Colliery which was rated at £48, while the gross estimated rental of the Cyfyng Colliery at Ystalyfera was £260.   3  Two more coalmines were opened in the early 1870s but it was not until the last decade of the century that further expansion took place on a significant scale. Although it was in the mining of coal that the parish took its first steps towards industrialization and despite the importance of its contribution to this process, coal nevertheless fulfilled a role which was secondary to iron and tinplate manufacture in the transformation of the economy of the parish"

 


 

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