Near Aberdare, Cynon Valley (02500116)

This mine was also called Tirffounder and was the first of the Powell Duffryn pits, it was from this pit that the first Welsh coal was exported to France, to the sugar refineries of Nantes.

It was sunk by Thomas Powell who after successfully working some levels in the Monmouthshire Valleys turned his attention to the almost virgin Cynon Valley. In February 1840 he started to sink the Tirffounder Pit striking the Four-Feet seam in 1842. The shaft was 14 ft by 10 feet elliptical in shape and a downcast ventilation shaft. The Four-Feet seam was found at a depth of 247 feet 4 inches.

He followed this by either sinking or acquiring the Plough Pit, Lower Duffryn, Middle Duffryn, Upper and Lower Cwmpennar. In alliance with John Nixon, he introduced the valley’s coal to the World. In 1863 Powell relinquished control of his mining empire, and when he died in 1869 such was his unpopularity that his funeral had to be held in private.

Never the largest of pits, it produced 28,991 tons in 1864, employed 71 men in 1870 producing 27,498 tons of coal, only 10,581 tons were produced in 1871, and it employed 80 men in 1879. It had worked out the Four-Feet seam by 1884 and was developing the Two-Feet-Nine seam.

It extensively worked the Upper-Four-Feet seam which had a section of coal 65 inches, dirt 3 inches, and coal 10 inches.

It was closed in 1925.

On August the 2nd 1845, twenty-nine miners died in an explosion at this pit. Three horses were also killed with some of the bodies of the victims not being recovered until the following Monday. Those who lost their lives were:

  • Howell John David aged 20 years, single.
  • Thomas Davies aged 78 years, widower.
  • William Edwards.
  • Thomas Evans, left a widow and 2 children.
  • William Evans aged 31 years.
  • John Evans aged 22 years.
  • David Evans aged 9 years.
  • James James aged 23 years, single.
  • David Jenkins aged 37 years, single.
  • David Jones aged 32 years, single.
  • David Jones aged 27 years, left a wife and child.
  • John Jones aged 17 years.
  • Evan Lewis aged 19 years, single.
  • William Llewellyn age 18 years, single.
  • David Morgan aged 30 years, single.
  • Richard Morris aged 30 years, single.
  • Joseph Phillips aged 19 years, single.
  • Thomas Rees aged 23 years.
  • Thomas Smith aged 19 years, single.
  • George Thomas aged 33 years, single.
  • Evan Thomas aged 14 years.
  • Rees Williams aged 24 years, single.
  • Howell Williams aged 28 years, single.
  • John Edwards aged 35 years, left a widow and 2 children and father of William.
  • James Thomas aged 42 years, left a wife and 2 children.
  • David Thomas aged 10 years, son of James.
  • Nicholas Evans, a lad, was said to be badly injured.

Mr. Powell of Newport met the funeral expenses and at the inquest, the jury returned a verdict that:

The men met their deaths accidentally. The present system of ventilation at the Duffryn is as perfect as can be admitted but is inadequate to ensure the safety of those working there and we strongly recommend that a system that will prevent the gas oozing out of the coal and old, abandoned workings and roads be adopted as soon as possible.


Information supplied by Ray Lawrence and used here with his permission.



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