Slope 269002, pits & level 257044 – Near Abersychan, Afan Lwyd Valley

There were at least three mines named Golynos, a pit, a slope and a level, the level is fairly easy to trace and is dealt with in the next listing. With the other two, their early history is vague, the Pit was working in 1842 and worked in conjunction with the iron works, Crawshay bailey the iron master is quoted as owner between 1854 and 1861 and was followed by William Richards who held the pit between 1862 and 1872, Richards was one of those industrialists who exploited his men to the limit and even paid then in public houses (which he would have a share) so that they would spend their wages on beer and have to go in debt to him for the rest of the month. Richards passed on and his executors ran the place in 1889 before a partnership of Mitchel and Richards called the Golynos Colliery Company took over. They shut it in 1891 but re-opened it in 1892, in 1893 the slightly named Abersychan Elled Steam and House Coal Colliery Company took over, that is until 1894 when the Abersychan Elled Company, a partnership of Hoskins and Llewellyn worked it until 1908 when it was owned by the Powell’s Tillery Steam Coal Company In 1907 an electric haulage was installed to improve transportation of coal on the main roadway but this failed to make much of an impact and it closed in 1909. It worked the Old Coal, Meadow Vein, Yard, Big Vein, Red Vein, Black Vein and Elled Coals during its working life.

With the Slope, its origins are obscure, only the pit is mentioned in 1842, but it appears to have been working in 1850. Charles Brownlow Marshall worked it in the early 1860s but it could have closed then. Partridge, Jones and Company held it in the 1880s until it closed in 1886.

In admiralty trials held in July 1856, Golynos coal was the third-best coal in the UK in quickly evaporating water to make steam. Merthyr came first with Ebbw Vale second.

When the slope was owned by Messrs. Marshall and Company in August 1861, the Bristol Mercury newspaper commented on a nearby level that; “the coal level of Messrs. Marshall and Co., situated in the neighbourhood of the Golynos, near Abersychan, is obtaining an unenviable degree of notoriety for accidents, as several serious ones have recently occurred in these works. One happened there on Friday last to a young man named Francis Brown, by which he lost an eye, had one of his legs broken, and was so much injured by a fall of stone from the roof of the pit that his recovery is extremely doubtful.

On the 26th of March 1867, John Lloyd, Age: 28 and a collier: In consequence of snow melting a water course became obstructed and John Lloyd went to re-open it when the water suddenly broke through and drowned him. While on the 24th of December in the same year, John Pritchard, aged 29 years and a ironstone miner, accidentally fell down the mine pit from the surface.

On the 18th of October 1869, the Bristol Mercury ran the following article:

AN ILL-FATED FAMILY – Inquests this week have been held at the Hanbury Arms, Garndiffaith, touching the death of John Lacey, labourer, and of his sister’s infant, Hannah Smith.

Lacey was employed underground at the Golynos and, after blasting, went back too soon to the place, and a stone, of which he had been warned, fell, inflicting mortal injuries. A brother of his had been killed near the same place. The infant niece, Smith, was but three days old, and was found lying dead in bed by her mother’s side. In Lacey’s case a verdict of “accidental death” was returned, and the coroner recommended that some time should always elapse before approaching a place after blasting; in case of the blasting being done late at night, the approach should not take place until the next morning. The jury returned a verdict of “Found Dead” in the case of the infant.

On the 4th of February 1878 two men died under a fall of the roof at this colliery. In all, up to 1947, nine miners died at this colliery.

In 1888 the Executors of W.R. Richards were in control of the mine, with the pit working the Meadow Vein (Yard/Seven-Feet) and Old Coal (Five-Feet/Gellideg) seams, and the slope working the Big Vein (Four-Feet) and Elled (Two-Feet- Nine) seams producing gas and manufacturing coals. John Vipond was in control 1862 to 1879 , but no coal was produced between 1874 and 1879.

In 1878/1882 it was managed by Rees Emmanuel. Partridge, Jones & Co. were the owners 1880 to 1885 when the slope closed. The manager was now J. Bruce.

At the pit the Golynos Coal Company took charge after Richards Exors, and worked it between 1890 and 1891, closing it in 1891. In 1893 the Abersychan Steam and House Coal Company took control producing 12,755 tons of coal in 1894 with 54 men employed. This company morphed into the Abersychan Elled Company in 1895 and carried out extensive electrification at this mine, 500 men were now employed producing 500 tons of coal per day. The company hit financial problems and the electricity company called in its debts in 1908 which resulted in the pit lying idle until bought by Powell’s Tillery Company. It doesn’t appear to have worked again.

When owned by Messrs. Marshall and Company in August 1861, the Bristol Mercury newspaper commented on a nearby level that;

The coal level of Messrs. Marshall and Co., situated in the neighbourhood of the Golynos, near Abersychan, is obtaining an unenviable degree of notoriety for accidents, as several serious ones have recently occurred in these works. One happened there on Friday last to a young man named Francis Brown, by which he lost an eye, had one of his legs broken, and was so much injured by a fall of stone from the roof of the pit that his recovery is extremely doubtful.



This level worked between 1922 and 1931 when it is listed under the ownership of the Golynos Colliery Company of Talywaun. In 1930 it only employed five men working underground in the Elled seam and one man working at the surface of the mine. J. Lewis was the manager. In 1931 it came under the ownership of D. Buck who seems to have spent most of the time ‘prospecting’ until he worked the Old Coal and Fireclay in 1934.

He then sold the colliery to the Oak Brick Company which worked it in 1935/36. It produced 700 tons of coal and almost 15,000 tons of fireclay in the first two months of 1937 before being handed over to the Bryn Clay and Coal Company of Talywaun. In 1938 it employed 30 men underground and 5 men on the surface while in 1940 it produced 20,000 tons of coal with the same manpower. In 1945 it employed 20 men underground and 5 men on the surface working it mainly for clay. It then again disappears until 1955 when it is listed as a small level that was worked under license from the National Coal Board by the Bryn Clay and Coal Company. It employed 34 men working the Meadow Vein in 1957. The manager was W.L. Brewer. It was abandoned in 1962.

Some statistics:

  • 1930: Manpower: 6.
  • 1933: Manpower: 29.
  • 1934: Manpower: 16.
  • 1937: Manpower: 32.
  • 1938: Manpower: 35.
  • 1940: Manpower: 30.
  • 1945: Manpower: 25.
  • 1948: Manpower: 35.
  • 1950: Manpower: 35.
  • 1957: Manpower: 34.


The 1842 Commission had this to say about the place:

in the parish of Trevethin in the county of Monmouth,
belonging to the Pentwyn and Golynos Iron Company.

Total Number of Young Persons and Children Employed:

  • At the blast furnaces:8 male and 8 female young persons and 11 male and 2 female children.
  • At the forges and mills:29 male and 5 female young persons and 17 male children.
  • At the colliery and mine works:96 male and 2 female young persons and 52 male and 1 female children.

The youngest children are 1 boy of 8 years, old at the forges and mills and 1 boy of 7 years and 5 boys 8 years old at the colliery and mine works.

[The circumstances under which children and young persons are employed at the Pentwyn and Golynos Works are so analogous to those already described at the British Iron Company’s work at Abersychan that I did not take any separate examinations at them. I had, however, the pleasure to see Mr. John Morgan, the managing partner at the works and to obtain from him a statement from which the above information is compiled and from which the following is a short abstract.]

We have had no explosion or accidents from either fire of chokedamp within the last two years. As far as we can ascertain, one accident only occurred within that period. The sufferer was working in a coal stall and having neglected to prop up the roof sufficiently and it fell and killed him. The coal in the mine is brought from the workings to the foot of the shafts by horses. Boys and men are employed in some instances to bring the coal or ore from the length of the branch headings to the principal heading or level but not to the foot of the shaft or to the surface. Boys are employed from eight years upwards to draw by a belt for a distance of from 20 to 409 yards. The coal and mine are brought to the surface by steam engines and horses. No children are employed in breaking or preparing the ore but there are 13 employed about the furnaces, assisting in the filling mine, limestone and coke, carrying mortar and watering coke.

There are 7 children employed in sweeping floors and pulling up doors at the puddling furnaces and there are 12 employed at the rolling mills in sweeping floors, cropping ends of bars at the shears, straightening small-sized bars and hooking at the rolls. There are 33 young persons in the forge and mill, 95 in the mines and about 16 about the furnaces. In general, the work of young persons is much harder than that of children.

Females are employed to fill the mine into trams and to stack it at the surface. The employment of children and young persons is minding air doors in the levels, filling trams and fastening horses to trams. Some of the elder ones are about 17 years old and cut coal and get mine. They are also employed in cleaning roads, attending fires assisting miners and colliers, and generally in getting mining and cutting coal. At the latter employment but few commence under 15 years of age. In other descriptions of work, they may commence about eight. our works do not require very young children but there is light work to be a considerable extent, such as driving, &c., which is unsuited to men. I do not think a limitation of the age at which children are employed in mines is desirable.

The work in the mines is carried on about 11 hours a day. As the miners work by the ton, they begin or end when they choose but they usually work 11 hours a day and children work the same as adults. Children and young persons are not employed at night but the work of the blast furnaces if not suspended on Sundays. We do not find that we are able to suspend them. We have stopped when accidents have compelled us to do so and the working of the furnaces is much injured thereby. Most probably a considerable proportion of the people derive moral advantage from the suspension of their labours for a certain number of hours on Sundays. A great number, however, spend those hours in the public houses.

We have frequently stopped the working of the furnaces for six or eight hours when accidents have happened to the blowing apparatus but it always deranges the working of the furnace, injures the quality of the iron and consumes more materials to restore it to its proper condition. If continued much longer than six or eight hours, the consequence would be more disastrous. The coke yards are also obliged to be looked to on Sundays but no other portion of our works. We have no system of rewards or punishments. Corporal punishments are not inflicted that we are aware of. There is a sick fund formed to which a small percentage on his gains is paid by each workman, entitling him to medical assistance gratuitously. There is no school, reading room or lending library established or supported by the works.


Information supplied by Ray Lawrence and used here with his permission

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