Llanerch Colliery

Near Pontypool, Afan Lwyd Valley (SO 2523 0236)

Link to map

Two shafts were sunk in 1858 to a depth of 253 yards. The No.1 Pit was 13 feet in diameter and used as the ventilation upcast and pumping shaft. The No.2 Pit was elliptical in shape, 16 feet by 11 feet and used for winding men, materials and coal. The No.2 Pit was used as the downcast ventilation shaft not only for this colliery but for Blaenserchan Colliery until a second shaft was sunk at Blaenserchan in 1915.

In 1844 Abraham Darby took control of the Ebbw Vale works and formed Messrs. Darby, Thomas Brown and Partners. The lease for the Victoria Iron Works was acquired from Benjamin Hall in 1848. The new owners transformed the Ebbw Vale Works’ fortunes by installing a Bessemer Converter for turning iron into steel and set about an incredible period of expansion which included the old Cwmnantddu Colliery (to be renamed Llanerch Colliery). In 1864 they changed the name of the company to the Ebbw Vale Company and new capital of £4 million was raised in shares of £50 to finance new purchases. In 1864 they owned iron works at Ebbw Vale, Sirhowy, Victoria, Abersychan and Pontypool, and collieries and iron ore mines in those locations as well as at Abercarn, Forest of Dean and Somerset. In 1868 the Ebbw Vale Company was voluntarily wound up and the Ebbw Vale Steel Iron and Coal Company was formed By 1878 they owned and operated 35 collieries and by 1886 they owned the mineral rights to 10,000 acres and produced 1,166,455 tons of coal in that year. Possibly due to the expenses that occurred/lessons learned after the explosion at Abercarn they withdrew from coal mining in all areas except their base at Ebbw Vale and leased out the other collieries.

The original headgear was made of wood and was 45 feet high. The winding wheels were 12 feet in diameter. Initially, ventilation for Llanerch Colliery was by a furnace at the bottom of the No.1 Pit, but when Partridge, Jones and Company took control of the colliery they installed a steam-driven Waddle type fan, 24 feet in diameter by 8 feet wide, and capable of producing an airflow of 100,000 cubic feet per minute.

It was leased out to Partridge, Jones and Co., in 1887 which later purchased the colliery. In 1888 it was managed by J. Morgan and worked the Three-quarter, Rock and Meadow Vein (this seam was 88 inches thick) seams.

On the 25th of May 1869 at 08.30 an explosion occurred when the colliery was still called Cwmnantddu. Sixteen men were underground when a localized explosion of methane killed the seven men working in the Meadow Vein (Yard/Seven-Feet) seam.

Those that died were:

  • William Cooke, wife and one child.
  • Alfred Davies, wife and three children.
  • John Jones, wife and child.
  • David Rees, wife and three children.
  • Evan Rees, aged 14 years.
  • Hananiah Williams, single.
  • Thomas Williams, single.

A newspaper report of the time stated,

Ten men were down in the workings at the time making roads, and seven of them were killed instantaneously.  Three who were working at some distance from the others escaped. One of them pushed his hat into his mouth, and managed to get to the bottom of the shaft and give the alarm.  Another was blown behind some timbers, and says he had given himself up for lost when he was discovered and extricated.  The three survivors seem to have suffered no other injury than a severe shock.”

Another explosion occurred on the 6th of February 1890 at about 8.30 am in a District called Cook’s Slope, caused by an accumulation of gas being ignited by a naked light. This caused the death of 175 men and boys and another ten were injured. The report on this can be found here.

The colliery worked the Rock (Brithdir) seam until 1904. In 1896 it employed 396 men underground and 80 men on the surface and was still working the same seams. In 1900 it employed 526 men working underground and 117 men at the surface of the mine.

In 1907 it employed 1,747 men working underground and 203 men working at the surface of the mine. This figure included Havod Van and Blaensychan pits. In 1908 the manager was still J. Morgan and along with Blaenserchan this pit employed 1,738 men working underground and 225 men working at the surface. In 1915 this pit employed 1,141 men and in 1916 it employed 1,075 men. The manager in 1913/30 was W. Llewellyn. Manpower dropped to 944 by 1919 while in 1930 there were 848 men working underground and 140 men at the surface of the mine.

In 1920 Partridge, Jones and Company merged with the Crumlin Valley Collieries Limited to form Partridge, Jones and John Paton and Company Limited. It went on to become one of the largest in the South Wales Coalfield.

This company was based at 88, Dock Street, Newport with the directors being; John Paton, W. Rees Jones, H.J. Smith, H.F. Partridge, Sir John Hamilton Kenrick, William Houldsworth McConnell, M. Deacon, C.E. Evans and A.J. Joshua. The company secretary was J.A. Chapman. After purchasing the mining interests of the Ebbw Vale Company in 1935, and buying out some of the smaller coal companies in the Monmouthshire section of the Coalfield, by 1937 the PJ & JP controlled 21 pits and an annual output of 4,500,000 tons.

This company was a member of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association. The commercial manager for Partridge, Jones at that time was PA Smith, who was based at 93, Dock Street, Newport.

On Nationalisation in 1947, Llanerch Colliery was placed in the National Coal Board’s, South Western Division’s, No.6 (Monmouthshire) Area, and at that time employed 42 men on the surface and 178 men underground working the Big Vein (Four-Feet) and Three-quarter (Upper-Six-Feet) seams. The manager was P.S.H. Jones.

Llanerch Colliery was closed on September 10th 1947.

Seam Depth Section
Big Vein (Four-Feet) 155 yards 66 inches
Three-quarter (Six-Feet) 167 yards 33 inches
Yard 174 yards 24 inches
Black Vein (Nine-Feet) 188 yards 72 inches
Meadow Vein (Yard/Seven-Feet) 237 yards 96 inches
Old Coal (Five-Feet/Gellideg) 245 yards 33 inches

Some statistics:

  • 1889: Output: 96,737 tons.
  • 1894: Output: 94,880 tons.
  • 1896: Manpower: 476.
  • 1899: Manpower: 618.
  • 1900: Manpower: 643.
  • 1901: Manpower: 1,272 with Blaenserchan.
  • 1903: Manpower: 1,623 with Blaenserchan.
  • 1905: Manpower: 1,590 with Blaenserchan.
  • 1907: Manpower: 1,950 with Blaenserchan.
  • 1908: Manpower: 1,738 with Blaenserchan.
  • 1909: Manpower: 1,963 with Blaenserchan.
  • 1910: Manpower: 1,038.
  • 1911: Manpower: 1,948 with Blaenserchan.
  • 1912: Manpower: 1,100
  • 1915: Manpower: 1,141.
  • 1916: Manpower: 1,075.
  • 1919: Manpower: 944.
  • 1920: Manpower: 1,045.
  • 1923: Manpower: 1,013.
  • 1924: Manpower: 960.
  • 1925: Manpower: 1,013.
  • 1926: Manpower: 1,005.
  • 1927: Manpower: 654.
  • 1928: Manpower: 642.
  • 1929: Manpower: 422.
  • 1930: Manpower: 988.
  • 1932: Manpower: 465.
  • 1933: Manpower: 257.
  • 1934: Manpower: 269.
  • 1937: Manpower: 322.
  • 1943/5: Manpower: 257.


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

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