Aberdare, Cynon Valley


Located at national grid reference SO019032 and SO019034 with associated levels at SO021034.
This pit was flanked to the north by Blaenant Colliery, to the east by Abercanaid Colliery, to the south by Tunnel Colliery and to the west by Park Colliery.

A small level was opened by Thomas Rees in this area which was taken over by David Williams and John Nixon in 1835. The original lease was held by the Abernant Iron Company and later by the Marquis of Bute. Williams and Nixon expanded operations and by 1846 had completed the sinking of the (Old) pit. It was elliptical in shape measuring 20 feet by 13 feet and sunk to just below the Five-Feet seam at a depth of 509 feet at a cost of £20,000. The New Werfa Pit was sunk to a depth of 356 feet to the Nine-Feet seam which it found had a thickness of 53 inches. (Caution must be taken with the depths of the shafts which vary with different reports, the above are British Geological Survey figures). Coal winding was carried out through the water balance method.

On about 1835, Mr. Nixon opened a small colliery on the mountainside between Aberdare and Merthyr. Called the Warfa Colliery, this was developed, an incline made to the Glamorgan Canal at Aberdare, and the first boat-load of steam coal was sent down to Cardiff.

In 1849 an explosion killed 5 men and an accident in the shaft killed 16 in 1851 and a further explosion occurred due to naken lights in 1856 when 2 men died,

The following was in the Morning Chronicle newspaper dated Saturday, 13th of March 1858;

During the recent strike of colliers in Glamorganshire the Werfa Colliery, the property of Mr. Nixon, was one of those completely deserted by the colliers, who, on resuming work at the close of the strike, found, to their great astonishment, that many thousands of rats and mice lay scattered in the workings of the pit. Some were alive, but the majority were dead, and they literally covered the works. Near the localities where the horses used to feed, the vermin literally lay in heaps, all dead, save a few unable to crawl, and so fearful was the noisome effluvia, that no time was lost in clearing the works of the dead animals. It seems that the vermin are carried down the shaft in the bags used for taking chaff and grain to the horses in the workings, and that they multiply to an enormous extent, living on the debris of the meals made by men and horses.

In 1861 a new steam engine was constructed at the top of the pit and the haulage rope guided through the shaft and on to the inbye working in a move that dramatically cut the need for horses underground. The colliery was progressively improving its production figures, from 23,252 tons of coal produced in 1861, it was 58,812 tons annually in 1870, and up to 67,901 tons of coal in 1871.

In 1879 the New pit was sunk, (due to the Hartley Colliery explosion in 1862, all pits were required by law to have at least two shafts, or a second means of escape). In 1883 this pit was owned by James Evens on his own, he had formed James Evens and Company with a capital of £50,000. At that time the mine consisted of the Old Pit, which was the upcast ventilation shaft, and was 110 yards deep. The New Pit was the downcast ventilation shaft and 510 feet deep, the pits were 60 to 70 yards apart. There was also listed a third shaft which was 15.75 feet by 12 feet and 335 feet deep. The method of extracting the coal was by the old longwall method.

The Longwall or Double Stall method was when two main roads would be driven into the seam as far as conditions and ventilation would permit. From these main roads double stalls eleven to fifteen metres in width with a roadway on each side would be driven into the virgin coal and the coal worked between them for a forward distance of approximately 45 metres. The stalls would only be partially filled after extraction and problems with ventilation short-circuiting would arise allowing the build-up of methane gas. When the roads were abandoned the entrances were sealed off and another set of double stalls were opened. Up to 100 stalls could be in operation at the same time and stretch for 1,000 metres, each stall was worked by a man and a boy. A trade depression in 1893 brought about the closure of the Seven-Feet and Yard seam workings throwing 350 out of work and placing those remaining on day to day contracts.
Production figures continued to rise, 88,829 tons of coal were raised in 1887 a figure that was nearly doubled by 1889 when 152,020 tons were raised.

The Pall Mall Gazette of Saturday, 27th of March 1886 reported

A disastrous explosion has occurred at Werfa Colliery, Aberdare, belonging to Heath, Evans and Co., Cardiff. It occurred in the seven foot vein of the new pit, and such was its force that it blew away the pit covering at the top of the upcast shaft. A party of explorers, headed by David Thomas, the manager, descended the mine, and 600 yards from the bottom of the shaft found three men killed. They were David Jones, foreman, William Marshall, labourer, and John Green, airwayman, all married men. George Green, son of the father, was severely burned. Safety lamps are used in the mine, and the cause of the explosion is unknown.

In 1896, the company sank a trial pit just above the colliery and in 1897 it is shown as having a sidings capacity of 333 full wagons, 50 empty wagons, and 24 other wagons.
The count-down to closure started in 1903 when the colliery was stopped due to the lease expiring and not being renewed. William Thomas Lewis (Lord Merthyr) then operated the colliery on the Marquis of Bute’s behalf causing a stoppage in 1904 over the price list for the Bute Seam until the men were starved back to work. To find extra coal reserves they worked under Tyla Roberts’ property in the No.2 Yard seam but with the shortage of reserves, and the lease running out on the 25th of March 1909, the mine was abandoned.

Some of the others who died at this mine:

  • 18/1/1853, Thomas Owen, aged 55, sinker, fall of stone.
  • 4/8/1853, John Smith, aged 40, labourer, run over by trams.
  • 31/8/1853, James Davies, collier, run over by trams.
  • 13/2/1854, Evan Morgan, aged 19, collier, fall of roof.
  • 27/7/1854, Roger Cleaton, aged 22, brakesman, run over by trams.
  • 22/8/1854, John Hughes, aged 19, collier, fell down pit.
  • 27/9/1854, Thomas Price, aged 25, fall of roof.
  • 19/9/1854, Evan Jones, aged 56, collier, fall of roof.
  • 13/3/1855, James Price, aged 40, collier, fell down shaft.
  • 17/3/1856, John Williams, collier, Morgan Williams, collier, explosion of gas.
  • 19/3/1856, John Evans, run over by trams.
  • 18/9/1856, Thomas Griffiths, collier, fall of roof.
  • 21/8/1857, Richard Morgan, aged 15, collier, fall of roof.
  • 30/11/1857, David Davis, aged 10, fell down shaft, he was not employed.
  • 8/12/1859, Morris Keen, aged 11, door boy, fell down shaft.
  • 2/10/1860, John Higgs, aged 12, door boy, run over by trams.
  • 12/12/1860, Thomas Morgan, aged 15, collier, fall of roof.
  • 26/1/1861, Evan Harris, aged 12, collier, fall of roof.
  • 15/2/1862, David Nicholas, aged 41, collier, fall of roof.
  • 23/3/1863, William Griffiths, collier, fall of roof.
  • 1/4/1864, Benjamin Evans, aged 13, collier, fall of roof.
  • 18/10/1864, Charles Protheroe, aged 9, collier, drowned in sump. Manager was fined £5 dur to him being under ten years of age.
  • 5/11/1864, John Jones, aged 37, collier, fall of roof.
  • 1/2/1865, Henry Evans, aged 26, labourer, crushed by trucks.
  • 16/2/1865, Charles Davies, aged 23, labourer, fall of roof.
  • 1/8/1865, John Knott, aged 49, fitter, machinery collapsed on him.
  • 16/10/1866, William Simons, aged 25, banksman, killed by trucks.
  • 29/6/1866, John Thomas, aged 28, rider, fell from truck.
  • 29/10/1866, William Davies, aged 40, collier, run over by trams.
  • 6/11/1867, John Jones, aged 19, labourer, killed in the shaft.
  • 13/5/1871, T. Howells, door boy, crushed by trams.
  • 24/12/1872, J. Ashbourne, banksman, fell down pit.
  • 15/7/1876, John Enoch, aged 17, J. Richards, aged 18, both hauliers, fall of roof.
  • 11/2/1878, Edward Parker, aged 20, collier, fall of roof.
  • 17/3/1879, John Woolly, aged 15, collier boy, fall of roof.
  • 8/12/1884, David Thomas, aged 15, collier, fall of roof.
  • 26/3/1886, William Edwards, aged 39, haulier, J. Green, aged 46, wasteman, David Jones, aged 38, fireman, William Marshall, aged 45, labourer, explosion of gas.
  • 16/1/1891, John Beavan, aged 26, collier, fall of roof.
  • 7/7/1891, David Thomas, aged 19, engineman, caught in machinery.
  • 30/8/1891, Thomas Thomas, aged 54, engineman, scalded to death.
  • 23/1/1892, John Thomas, aged 18, oiler, run over by trams.
  • 2/8/1892, Eleanor Bowen, aged 18, oiler, fell off surface gangway.
  • 11/2/1893, John Sefton, aged 24, hitcher, explosion of gas.
  • 21/8/1894, Richard Lewis, aged 25, collier, damage to abdomen.
  • 29/1/1896, John Ryan, aged 13, collier boy, fall of roof.
  • 23/2/1896, Benjamin Rees, aged 43, collier, run over by trams.
  • 1/12/1896, Mary Jane Evans, aged 20, tram oiler, run over by wagons.
  • 22/2/1897, William Davies, aged 22, sinker, fell down shaft.
  • 25/9/1897, Edward Chappel, aged 40,l collier, fall of roof.
  • 31/12/1897, Isaac Williams, aged 39, timberman, struck on the head.
  • 18/6/1898, Daniel E. Jones, aged 25, haulier, haulage incident.
  • 26/6/1898, William Jones, aged 44, haulier, broken blood vessel.
  • 28/6/1898, John H. Bateman, aged 19, haulier, crushed by wagons.
  • 2/8/1898, Ebenezer Ellis, aged 30, fireman, suffocated by gas.
  • 10/4/1899, Robert Bill, aged 45, coal trimmer, crushed by wagons.


  • 1896 – 663
  • 1899 – 640
  • 1900 – 778
  • 1901 – 725
  • 1902 – 660
  • 1905 – 593
  • 1908 – 257



This mine was located at national grid reference SO 023 038. It was opened and worked in 1907/8 by the Werfa Graig Company of Werfa Farm, Aberdare, when it employed 6 men underground and 1 to 3 men on the surface with the manager being W. Eynon, in 1910 it employed 15 men, in 1911 it employed11 men and in 1912 it employed 24 men. In 1913/5 it employed 22 men producing house coal.

It abandoned the Graig seam in December 1914, and became the…

WERFA DARE COLLIERY Aberdare, Cynon Valley (SO 0201 0316)

Link to Map

This colliery consisted of the Nos. 1 & 2 Drifts, which were cross-measure drifts driven down to intercede the major coal seams of the Middle and Lower Coal Measures.

It was owned by the Werfa Dare Colliery Company Limited which was not a member of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association. In 1923 it produced 100,000 tons of coal and in 1927 it employed 370 men with the manager being E. Jones. In 1930 the manager was O. Hawkins and it employed 290 men working underground and 40 men working at the surface of the mine and produced 100,000 tons of coal.

In 1935 it employed 41 men working on the surface of the mine and 238 men working underground producing 100,000 tons of coal from the Six-Feet; Nine-Feet, Red Vein and No.1 Yard seams. In 1945 the manager was W.H. Jones and it employed 218 men.

On Nationalisation in January 1947, Werfa Dare Colliery was placed in the National Coal Board’s, South Western Division’s, No.4 (Aberdare) Area, and at that time employed 297 men working the Bute, Nine-Feet, Six-Feet and Red Vein seams. This colliery was closed by the NCB on the 6th of August 1949. At that time it employed 241 men working underground and 45 men working at the surface and produced 75,000 tons of coal. Those that wished to, were transferred to Twoer Colliery.

Some Statistics:

  • 1920: Manpower: 152
  • 1923: Manpower: 390 Output: 100,000 tons.
  • 1924: Manpower: 288
  • 1927: Manpower: 207.
  • 1928: Manpower: 180
  • 1930: Manpower: 330.
  • 1931: Manpower: 300.
  • 1933: Manpower: 279
  • 1934: Manpower: 225
  • 1935: Manpower: 279. Output: 100,000 tons.
  • 1937: Manpower: 230
  • 1940: Manpower: 238. Output: 80,000 tons.
  • 1942: Manpower: 260. Output: 80,000 tons.
  • 1944: Manpower: 270.
  • 1945: Manpower: 218.
  • 1947: Manpower: 297.
  • 1948: Manpower: 287
  • 1949: Manpower: 296. Output: 75,000 tons.

This information has been provided by Ray Lawrence, from books he has written, which contain much more information, including many photographs, maps and plans. Please contact him at welshminingbooks@gmail.com for availability.

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