Cilfynydd, Taff Vale (ST 0862 9263)

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The sinking of the Albion Colliery commenced in December 1884 and was completed in August 1887 by the Albion Steam Coal Company. This colliery was about thirteen miles to the north of Cardiff. The Company held the lease to work a mineral area of 1,300 acres. The Taff Vale Railway constructed a special branch line to serve the colliery. Two shafts, both 19 feet in diameter, were sunk 33 feet apart and to a depth of 1,940 feet. During the sinking of the shafts two men were killed on 24th March 1886 and four men were killed in another shaft incident on 4th November.

On the 5th of November 1886, the upcast ventilation shaft had been sunk to a depth of 470 yards when the last 40 feet of brickwork in the shaft collapsed. Of the twenty men working in the shaft, fourteen managed to get into the bowk and were brought to the surface immediately, of the other six men, two were dug out as soon as the rescue party reached them, Evan Williams was dug out alive but died an hour and a half later. The others who died were; Thomas Jones, aged 41 years, left a wife and six children. David Griffiths left a wife and three children. Morris Jones aged 36 years and married. Evan Williams was aged 30 years and was single.

In April 1887 the Six-Feet seam was struck and found to be 9ft 6 inches thick and of excellent quality.

The steam winding engine for the downcast ventilation shaft North Pit (and the main coal winder) was made by Messrs. Llewellyn & Cubitt of Pentre and had two horizontal cylinders 42 inches in diameter and with a six feet stroke. The drum was a spiral type the small end was 15 feet rising to 25 feet in diameter. It was capable of winding two full trams on the single deck at 1.5 tons of coal per tram. In an eighteen-hour, double shift day it was expected to raise 2,000 tons of coal. The upcast ventilation shaft winding engine had 30-inch cylinders and a five-foot stroke, the drum was cylindrical and 15 feet in diameter. The ventilation fan was a 15.5 feet diameter Shiele type and was driven by a steam engine with a 32-inch cylinder and a three feet stroke which gave 185,000 cubic feet of air per minute. There were eleven marine type boilers used to produce steam for the colliery. At the bottom of the downcast shaft in the Four-Feet seam was the main haulage engine house which was steam-driven and consisted of two 18 inch cylinders with a three foot stroke and two four feet diameter drums. It could work three districts with the main roadway being 660 yards to the north-west of the shafts and then two branch roads to the west each going on for another 600 yards.

At this colliery the Gellideg and Five-Feet seams form a composite seam called the Seven-Feet, it had a typical section of; coal 37 inches, dirt 3 inches, coal 5 inches, dirt 2 inches, coal 3 inches, dirt 6 inches coal 32 inches. The Seven-Feet seam was known as the Bottom Yard at Albion and was between 36 inches to 48 inches thick. The Yard seam was known as the Top Yard and had a typical section of, coal 10 inches, dirt 1 inch, coal 32 inches. The Bute seam was in two parts with the top coal about 24 inches thick and the lower coal 20 inches thick. They were 20 inches apart on average. The Nine-Feet seam varied considerably throughout the take, some sections were; coal 47 inches, dirt 1 inch, coal 62 inches, elsewhere it was; coal 38 inches, dirt 2 inches, coal 10 inches, dirt 1 inch, coal 57 inches. The Four-Feet seam had also split into many parts, an average section was; coal 6 inches, dirt 3 inches, coal 6 inches, dirt 5 inches, coal 27 inches, dirt 4 inches, coal 10 inches. The Two-Feet-Nine seam averaged; coal 34 inches, dirt 3 inches, coal 15 inches. In 1887/8 Albion Colliery sent one thousand tons of coal to the admiralty for trial purposes, the success of the trials placed the colliery on the admiralty list to feed the Royal Navy.

In May 1888 the owners opened up a new seam that they said was the Four-Feet seam, the workmen disagreed with this and claimed it was the Six-Feet seam where the wages paid would be more. A strike ensued that lasted until July 1888 when the matter went to arbitration. It was the Upper-Four-Feet seam.

The Pont Shon Norton branch of the Taff Vale Railway was opened to service Albion Colliery and by 1898 the pit had a sidings capacity to cope with 387 full waggons, 202 empty waggons, and 136 others, making a grand total capacity of 725 waggons. In 1896 the manager was Phillip Jones.

At 3.10 pm on the 10th of November 1906, an explosion in the C District at this colliery killed six miners. They were: Henry Hill aged 53 years, John Jones aged 36 years, Richard Hughes aged 39 years, Abraham Lloyd aged 21 years, Francis Strong aged 40 years and Thomas Prosser aged 41 years.

In 1907, David Alfred Thomas later Lord Rhondda, and his Cambrian Combine obtained controlling interest in Albion. By 1908 it employed 2,293 men underground and 296 on the surface with Tudor Davies as manager. In 1910 this colliery was working the Four-Feet, Six-Feet, Nine-Feet and Seven-Feet seams.

At that time the board of the Albion Steam Coal Company consisted of; W.H. Mathias, Chairman, John Andrews, Stephen H. O’Callaghan, Charles O’Callaghan and G.B. Forrester. It valued the colliery at £430,000. In 1911 D.R. Jones was the manager while in 1913 the pit employed 2,196 men, with the manager being D.L. Jones, in 1915/6 the manager was H.H. Evans.

In 1918 there were 1,552 men underground and 226 on the surface with the manager being D. Rowlands. In 1923 the manager was S. Rees and in 1930 it was W.H. Davies. Marketing of the collieries coal was done by John Andrews and L Gueret Ltd of Cardiff, who also had branches in Swansea, Newport, Port Talbot, Newcastle, Genoa, Savona and Venice, plus eighteen foreign coaling depots in places as diverse as Rio de Janeiro and Tunisia.

In June 1923 one of the biggest lumps of steam coal ever mined, weighing about 3.5 tons, was cut out by two Albion colliers, it was put on exhibition at an industrial fair at Bordeaux.

A fire in September 1927 in Perkins’ Heading in the Nine-Feet seam in the No.2 Pit led to around 1,800 men being laid off for a few weeks. Then three years later on the 12th of September 1930, the pit was temporarily closed due to the depression. The Albion Steam Coal Company had no finances left to run the pit, and not even enough to pay the men’s wages. A manager and receiver was appointed and given permission by the courts to borrow £3,850 to pay the men and to cover the cost of preserving the colliery for three weeks. Its assets were later purchased by the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company, who in their AGM in 1931 reported that the Albion Colliery, which adjoined their Lewis Merthyr and Great Western properties, had been acquired “At a very modest price, and the Directors are satisfied by the expenditure of a quite reasonable sum this property can be made to form a very valuable part of the undertaking. The quality of coal obtained from the colliery ranks among the best Admiralty coals and commands a high selling price for both large and small coal.” The colliery re-started and by March 1934 wanted to put on a second coaling shift so they asked the education authority if they could inform the boys at school about the jobs that were vacant. The local education authority declined to do so and the owners stated that they might have to abandon the one shift and throw men out of work if they couldn’t fill all the places. The miners’ agent added that already 10 to 12 boys had refused to work at Albion, and although he was against boys working underground “What can you do?”

By 1934 it employed 1,090 men underground and 130 men on the surface at the pit producing 325,000 tons of coal. The manager was J.W. Jordan.

A new pit head baths and canteen was opened on the 4th of February 1939 at a cost of £25,000. It had 1,312 of both clean and dirty lockers. In 1945 this pit employed 783 men working underground in the Four-Feet and Six-Feet seams and 208 men working at the surface of the mine. In 1943/5 the manager was R. Griffiths and the under manager was A. Evans. In 1945 this pit employed 783 men working underground in the Four-Feet and Six-Feet seams and 208 men working at the surface of the mine. In 1943/5 the manager was R. Griffiths and the under manager was A. Evans.

Powell Duffryn retained control of the colliery until Nationalisation in 1947 when it was placed in the National Coal Board’s South Western Division’s No.5 Rhymney Area. At that time it was working the Seven-Feet and Six-Feet coal seams and employed 769 men working underground and 167 men working at the surface of the mine. The manager was N. A. Walters (he was still there in 1949) and the under-manager was still A. Evans.

In 1955 out of a total of 656 men employed at this colliery, 283 of them worked at the coalfaces, this figure dropped to 266 men on the coalfaces in the following year, but increased to 323 men in 1957, and was 315 men in 1958. At this time it was working the Four-Feet, Six-Feet, Five-Feet and Gellideg seams.

In April 1966 the NCB claimed that the Four-Feet seam was unworkable due to washouts and geological faulting. Albion Colliery was closed by the National Coal on the 3rd of September 1966 on the grounds that all coal reserves had been exhausted.

On Saturday, 23rd June 1894, the afternoon shift descended the shafts at 2pm to carry out their normal duties of repairing the roadways and cleaning up the dust. At 3.50pm two loud reports were heard above ground in quick succession. They were followed immediately by a charge of dust and smoke from the downcast shaft, and then from the upcast. Men on the surface near the shafts were blown backwards by the blasts, but no flames were reported. It was not known how many men were down the pit that afternoon, but it soon became clear that 290 men and boys were never to see sunlight again. The full report can be found here. Another explosion, caused by sparks from a battery, occurred in 1906 when 8 men died.

Some of the others to die at this pit were;

  • 24/03/1886, Joseph Jones Age: 24, Richard Jones Age: 20: Sinkers: They were drilling in the side of the pit when a piece of fireclay fell and killed them.
  • 4/11/1886, David Griffiths, Age: 38, Morris Jones Age: 36, Thomas Jones Age: 41, Evan Williams Age: 30: Sinkers: The side of the shaft which was in course of sinking, gave way at unseen slips for a length of seven or eight yards from the bottom and thus undermined the last 10 yards of walling which being fresh and the mortar not yet set, fell in upon them. There were 19 or 20 men at the bottom at the time. 4 killed.
  • 29/09/1888 Benjamin Thomas, Age: 52: Collier: While assisting another collier to bar down some coal the bar slipped and struck him on the side.
  • 14/02/1889, Edwin Snooks, Age: 38: Hitcher: While pulling the loaded tram on cage from the backside the cage was raised dragging him up to the top of the arch when the tram knocked him out and he fell onto the plates
  • 4/03/1889, Eli Bray, Age: 58: Repairer: While raising a large stone from a tram onto a pack wall some small stones fell from the roof near the spot which caused him to drop the stone on his foot. He was in bad health and died from gangrene on 10th March.
  • 15/03/1889, John P. Jones Age: 29: Collier: Fall of the roof.
  • 23/03/1889, William Morse, Age: 29: Collier: Fall of coal.
  • 26/12/1889, William Osborne, Age: 14: Breakboy: Crushed by cogwheels of the winding engine.
  • 22/04/1889, William Thomas Age: 26: Collier: Fall of the cliff.
  • 24/05/1889, Thomas Cooper, Age: 15: Collier boy: Fall of coal.
  • 29/10/1889, Walter Martin, Age: 15: Collier boy: Fall of a thin piece of rock roof.
  • 5/11/1889, David Rowlands, Age: 43: Sinker: Deceased and another were on a stage 22yds from pit bottom steadying the barrel in which water was being raised from the sump. When about to ascend in catching hold of the barrel deceased missed his footing and fell through the opening into the shaft.
  • 31/01/1890, Morris T. Jones Age: 26: Sinker: Drowned in a shaft by a sudden inrush of water and debris.
  • 10/03/1890, William Breeze, Age: 42: Ripper: After a shot in the roof he had tried to bring down the stone with a bar, but failed and while preparing a wedge to put under the bar he stood below the stone when it fell upon him killing him and injuring another.
  • 29/04/1890, John Morgan, Age: 25: Sinker: Drowned by a sudden inrush of water.
  • 15/05/1890, David Meredith, Age: 54: Collier: He bad removed a sprag and was barring down the coal when about three tons fell suddenly and he failed to clear it.
  • 2/08/1890, Name: John R. Jones, Age: 23: Inclineman: A full journey had gone off the rails on a self-acting incline and while deceased was assisting to replace the trams a shackle snapped. He endeavoured to stop the trams thus set loose, and was crushed by them.
  • 12/06/1891, John Francis, Age: 43: Collier: Fall of the roof.
  • 6/10/1891, William Rees Age: 43: Collier: Fall of a “face-slip” of coal.
  • 19/12/1892, Joseph Storey, Age: 26: Collier: Fall of the side while fixing a sprag.
  • 29/03/1893, David Watkins, Age: 26: Collier: A fall of the side.
  • 15/09/1893, Thomas Franch, Age: 27: Collier: Fall of the roof at face.
  • 11/10/1895 William Phillips, Age: 30: Collier: Fall at the coal face.
  • 11/01/1896, Francis Bale, Age: 17: Assistant. timberman: Fall on a double parting while holding light to his father, a timberman who was cutting out timbers to enlarge road.
  • 27/06/1896, Samuel Verne, Age: 21: Haulier: Fatally injured by journey on parting while assisting to start it having fallen and been dragged by the side for 6 yards.
  • 1/10/1896 T. Hubert Rainey, Age: 15: Collier boy: Fall at face coal.
  • 19/10/1896, George Berry, Age: 20: Haulier: Caught by the corner of the tram, which left the rails in turning into a heading where the road dipped 4in per yard.
  • 7/12/1896, S.M. Ormand, Age: 34: Assiatant. timberman: Fall on road clift while repairing.
  • 18/01/1898, Samuel James Parnell, Age: 15: Collier boy: Fall of the roof.
  • 18/11/1898, Thomas Griffiths, Age: 19: Haulier: Fall of the roof on road.
  • 17/03/1899, Daniel Thomas Age: 42: Collier: Fall of the side at face.
  • 11/06/1899, W. Williams, Age: 45: Ripper: Fall of the roof.
  • 21/09/1899 Richard Roach, Age: 44: Hitcher: Struck by timber.
  • 31/10/1899, Henry M. Davies, Age: 17: Ropeman: Struck by the handle of a crab-winch while changing haulage ropes the engineman having started before the complete signal was made. Died the next day.
  • 13/05/1910 William Jones Age: 46: Roadman: Fall of the roof on the main road.
  • 25/05/1910, John Rees, Age: 30: Rider: Run over by trams running wild through breakages of rope caused by derailed tram catching side of the road.
  • 7/1910, John Evans, Age: 30: Haulier: While lifting derailed trams with the aid of a pull from the horse, he slipped and the tram ran over his ankle Tetanus set in and he died on 15th July.
  • 15/08/1910, D. Lehearne, Age: 27: Haulier: As he was jumping on the gun his horse started suddenly and he was caught by a collar 5 feet above rails and crushed against coal on the tram.
  • 4/11/1910, William Griffiths, Age: 28: Bratticeman: Caught and crushed by journey while he was reaching down a bag of nails from a hiding place on side of engine plane.
  • 10/04/1911, Henry Davies Age: 15: Assistant. collier: Fall of the side at the working face.
  • 11/01/1912, Samuel Beecham, Age: 42: Shackler: Owing to the breaking of a haulage rope, he was struck on the head and fatally injured, by a flying end of the rope, with capping attached. He died the same day.
  • 12/01/1912, David Harbin, Age: 41: Timberman: He was run over and killed by a tram.
  • 20/06/1912, Evan Llewellyn, Age: 27: Collier: Fall of the side near the working face.
  • 14/10/1912, Benjamin King, Age: 28: Assistant. repairer: Fall of the roof.
  • 24/01/1913 Thomas Hughes, Age: 33: Collier: After assisting a haulier to put a full tram on the rails, he stood at the side to allow the horse to pull on; the horse stumbled, and deceased, thinking the horse was going to fall upon him, jumped between the horse and tram and was fatally injured.
  • 26/04/1913, John Graves, Age: 37: Road cleaner: He was run over and killed by a full journey.
  • 10/09/1913, John Webb, Age: 59: Collier: He was crushed between an empty tram and a post.
  • 2/12/1913, John Davies Age: 43: Foreman smith: He was standing on a pitch-pine baulk at the top of the shaft doing some repairs on the releasing keps; in striking a blow with a hammer, he missed, overbalanced and fell down the shaft.
  • 23/12/1913 Isaac Morris Age: 60: Assistant. ripper: Fall of the roof in working place. 15/01/1914, James Doyle, Age: 30: Hitcher: By some means unknown he was knocked down and crushed by a full journey of coal near the pit bottom.
  • 18/08/1914, Thomas Jones Age: 45: Overman: A pulley wheel which was attached to the timbers at the side of the road, for the purpose of guiding the rope broke away and, swinging across, struck and killed him.
  • 18/04/1925, Edgar Leach, Age: 37: Labourer: Two trams of rubbish went wild fatally crushing him and two horses.
  • 17/03/1927, Idris Williams, Age: 24: Collier: Fall of roof.
  • 8/02/1929, George Connell, Age: 63: Pulleyman: Fall of roof.

Some Statistics


  • 1889: Output: 368,862 tons.
  • 1894: Output: 551,233 tons.
  • 1896: Manpower: 1,735.
  • 1899: Manpower: 1,724.
  • 1900: Manpower: 1,852.
  • 1901: Manpower: 1,776.
  • 1902: Manpower: 1,771.
  • 1905: Manpower: 1,910.
  • 1907: Manpower: 2,182.
  • 1908: Manpower: 2,589.
  • 1909: Manpower: 2,589.
  • 1910: Manpower: 2,138.
  • 1911: Manpower: 2,159.
  • 1912: Manpower: 2,121.
  • 1913: Manpower 2,196.
  • 1915: Manpower: 2,050.
  • 1916: Manpower: 1,650.
  • 1918: Manpower: 1,778.
  • 1919: Manpower: 1,650.
  • 1920: Manpower: 2,025.
  • 1922: Manpower: 2,334.
  • 1923: Manpower: 2,135. Output: 400,000 tons.
  • 1924: Manpower: 2,301.
  • 1927: Manpower: 1,899.
  • 1928: Manpower: 1,856.
  • 1929: Manpower: 2,300.
  • 1930: Manpower: 2,135. Output: 500,000 tons.
  • 1931: Manpower: 379.
  • 1932: Manpower: 754.
  • 1933: Manpower: 840.
  • 1934: Manpower: 1,220. Output: 325,000 tons.
  • 1937: Manpower: 1,218.
  • 1938: Manpower: 1,270.
  • 1940: Manpower: 1,243.
  • 1941: Manpower: 1,341.
  • 1942: Manpower: 1,251.
  • 1944: Manpower: 1,164.
  • 1945: Manpower: 991.
  • 1947: Manpower: 936.
  • 1948: Manpower: 914. Output: 231,639 tons.
  • 1949: Manpower: 860. Output: 231,639 tons.
  • 1950: Manpower: 819.
  • 1953: Manpower: 747. Output: 301,000 tons.
  • 1954: Output: 218,477 tons.
  • 1955: Manpower: 656. Output: 204,326 tons.
  • 1956: Manpower: 677. Output: 236,699 tons.
  • 1957: Manpower: 751. Output: 224,425 tons.
  • 1958: Manpower: 712. Output: 207,818 tons.
  • 1961:  Manpower: 535. Output: 169,341 tons.
  • 1962: Manpower: 557.

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 for availability.




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