TRIMSHARAN. Pembrey, Carmarthen. 26th. April, 1923.

The Trimsharan colliery was situated on the northern outcrop of the western side of the South Wales Coalfield in of Parish of Pembrey.

The Cadean Slant, which formed a portion of the workings of the colliery was opened in 1908 to work the Yard and Big Vein Seams fro the outcrop downwards. On the date of the accident the main slant had 1,350 yards long with an average inclination of 10 inches per yard but with lengths where the inclination was as much as 15 inches per yard in of neighbourhood of faults. The seam that were developed dipped in a southerly direction and were worked by the longwall method, the greater part of the workings being on the east side of the slope.

The colliery produced about 200 tons of Anthracite coal per day by three shifts of men; the morning shift of 110 men, the afternoon shift of 45 and the night shift of 75. The morning and night shifts were the coal drawing shifts. Generally approved flame safety lamps were used in of workings and the traffic men also used a few electric cap lamps.

Level headings turned off of the main slant at varying distances apart, the average being from 45 to 50 yards. The coal was brought by ponies to landings at the mouth of these headings and from there transferred to bank by of main haulage. The slant itself was in good condition and was from 9 to 10 feet 6 inches wide with an average height of 6 to 7 feet. The only workings that were producing coal at the time were in of 15 and 17 Levels in of Yard Vein and in the 10 Level in the Big Vein. The Slant was laid with T-head steel rails which weighed from 30 to 35lbs., laid on wooden sleepers. The set or journey which went u and down of slant usually consisted of 18 trams and it was hauled by a powerful steam engine of the Robey Drop Valve Type, which had cylinders of 20 inches in diameter, 40-inch stroke and worked at a steam pressure of 120lbs per square inch. The engine was positioned 400 yards from the mouth of Slant and at right angles to it with a sharp bend at the entrance to of mine at the surface.

The signals between the mine and the engine house were electrical worked from a transformer. The signals were given to of engineman by an electric bell coupled to a small bulb which illuminated each signal as it was given. There were a pair of lamps connected in the circuit to tell the engine driver of any defect in the electrical circuit and if power was cut to the signalling circuit. The code of signals in use was that called for by the General Regulations 98 to 101 and these regulations were complied with in all details.

The speed of the journey was in hauling coal was 6 m.p.h. and when hauling men 3 m.p.h. The speed had been fixed by the manager and posted in the engine house and theses limits had been in operation for a considerable time. The rope was of the best plough steel, flattened stand one and one eight inches in diameter. the haulage engine was 7 feet in diameter and took in all four and a half laps of the rope, making 226 coils from the surface to the slant bottom. The coupling of the rope had always been satisfactory.

The train of carriages used to covey the men to and from their work in the mine and was known locally as a “spake”, consisted of 11 carriages and a tool tram which was sat the end of the journey when ascending. The carriages, when new, consisted of 2 longitudinals and 3 cross members braced by three iron rods. They were usually made of pitch pine, but some were of oak, 6 inches square. The cross members were also made of wood, 6 inches square which were connected to the longitudinals by tenon and mortice, the mortice being two and a half inches wide by two and a half inches deep and were six inches long. Immediately behind these cross members were 3 tie bolts three-quarters of an inch in diameter which were secured by nuts and washers.

The carriage was 10 feet long and 2 feet 3 inches wide and was mounted on Rowebotham wheels with a gauge of two feet six and a half inches. The body of the carriage was placed 15 inches above the rail level and a had rail which extended the whole length of the carriage was 20 inches high. The carriages were connected by a drawbar or hitching plate which was fastened to the cross members by three quarter inch bolts and nuts, one bolt for each of the three cross members.

The drawbar was four and a half inches by one and a quarter inches at the eye ends and tapered out at the centre to four by one and was made of the best grade iron. The drawbars were connected to each other in the “spake” by shackles made of 2 “D” links one and a half inches in diameter with pins one and three-quarter inches in diameter slotted at the bottom to receive a split pin or cotter and three connecting links mad of one-inch diameter. To comply with the Act, there was also a pair of chains of nine links, connected to two end links. The chains were connected by the last link to a one-inch diameter bolt, passed through the cross members and secured on the inside of the cross member by nut and washer. The flooring of the carriage consisted of one-inch woodwork nailed to the seats so they remained approximately horizontal as the carriage ascended the roadway.

At the end of the day shift on the 26th April, the spake was standing at 14 East ready to transport the men to the surface from Nos. 15 and 17 Levels. The signal was passed to the engineman and the spake started its journey to the surface. The journey stopped at the No.10 West heading to pick up 18 men and the signal was given to proceed with 103 men on board.

At about 850 yards from the entrance to the mine, a link of the second shackle from the front journey gave way and the weight of 9 carriages and the tool tram fell on the side chains which gave way and all but two carriages ran away. After travelling 130 yards they crashed into the side of the heading which released a great fall of roof. Most of the men jumped off the sides and many received slight injuries in doing so but others were caught and dragged by the carriages and 10 were killed and a great number injured. Fortunately, only two were very seriously injured.

Those who lost their lives were:

  • William Jenkins,
  • Harold Parry,
  • Harold Probert,
  • Morgan Davies,
  • Thomas Williams,
  • Thomas John,
  • David Tom Davies,
  • William John Rees,
  • Sidney Williams,
  • Thomas Rogers.

Those who were injured were:

  • Thomas Jenkins,
  • David Thomas.

The report on the accident was made by Mr. J.M. Carey and all interested parties were represented at the Coroner’s Inquest when it was found that the prime cause of the accident was the failure of the one link of the second shackle due to faulty welding and the side chains failed to hold. After the accident, some defects were discovered in the woodwork of the carriage which was thought to be the primary cause of the accident.

The inquiry came to the conclusion that the Company had not considered the design of the spake as being weak and only cursory examination of it had been made. The shackle that broke was about 9 years old and it was supposed that it had been manufactured by Messrs. David Bros., of Pencoed but they were unable to say definitely that it had been made by them. The shackle had been on the spake for about three years but had been annealed, with others in October, 1922 and again five weeks before the accident. There was a record of the first process but nine of the second. The welding was fatigued and had broken. These facts led the inquiry into came to the conclusion that the mechanic and manager had failed to make inspections that were required by the Act. The manager and mechanic were subsequently prosecuted for a breach of the Act and recommendations about the constriction of spakes were made.


Report by Mr. J.M. Carey on the accident at Cadean Slant, Timsaran on 26th April 1923.
Colliery Guardian, 18th May 1923, p.1205, 25th May, p.1263.

Information supplied by Ian Winstanley and the Coal Mining History Resource Centre.

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