Llanhilleth, Ebbw Valley (SO 2207 0023)

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The Red Ash is reported to have been sunk in 1802 to a depth of 241 feet to the Red Ash (Brithdir) seam at a tremendous cost in those days of £30,000 possibly by a Mr. Blewitt. By 1858 it was owned by Thomas Protheroe who sold it on to the Powell Brothers who held it until its purchase by Partridge, Jones & Company in 1890. It became part of Llanhilleth Colliery after 1870 and was closed in February 1947 due to exhaustion of the coal reserves. Just over half a mile north of the Crumlin Viaduct, in 1870 Walter Powell sunk one shaft to the Tillery (Brithdir) seam which it found at a depth of 240 feet, and probably linked it to the old Red Ash Colliery. Walter Powell (1842 1881) was the son of Thomas Powell, one of the greatest, and most hated, figures in the history of the South Wales Coalfield, and the Powell in Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company. Walter was educated at Rugby School and followed his father into the family business to sink the Llanhilleth Colliery. He was also a justice of the peace for Wiltshire, and from 1868 the Member of Parliament for Malmesbury. His love in life was ballooning, and he was in a balloon when he disappeared over the English Channel in 1881. Ownership of this colliery then went to his brother Henry until its purchase by Partridge, Jones and Company. It was listed as being in operation in 1870/82 by the Powell Brothers, but in 1888 it is listed as being abandoned, and being owned by Henry Powell.

An advert in the Western Mail newspaper of Wednesday November 21, 1883:

FOR SALE, THE LLANHILLETH COLLIERY, The property of Henry Powell Esq., situated on the Western Valleys Branch of the Great Western Railway. The situation of this property is in one of the best positions in Monmouthshire, within thirteen miles of Newport, the port of shipment, and commands a large area of Minerals, both the Bituminous and the Steam Coal measures, The colliery is now in full work on the House Coal measures. There is a pit, sunk about eighty yards, fitted with very powerful pumping and winding engines and gear, suitable for winning and working the steam coal, a very large area of which, although not already taken, can be secured on very favourable terms.

For full particulars apply to Messrs. Brown and Adams, Guild-hall Chambers, Cardiff. And to view the colliery to Mr. M. Jeremiah, Llanhilleth Colliery.

He didn’t have much luck with the sale and they had to wait until 1890 when the colliery was bought by Partridge, Jones and Company, this company raised £100,000 by issuing pre-preference shares for the purchase of Llanhilleth and Llanerch collieries. £40,000 worth was offered to the public, the rest was snapped up by the directors and shareholders.

The Twentieth Century was about to begin and the World demanded more and more south Wales coal, the Bristol Channel became the busiest waterway in the world and the South Wales Coalfield was the top coal exporting area in the world. With this in mind, this company deepened the No.1 (Old) Pit to a depth of 375 yards and sunk the No.2 pit to a depth of 368 yards to the steam coal seams of the Lower and Middle Coal Measures and at the Nine-Feet (Black Vein) level. Coal production started in 1892. The No.1 Pit (upcast Ventilation shaft) was elliptical in shape, measuring 19 feet by 13 feet bar for the bottom 60 feet which was 14 feet in diameter. The winding engine was made at the Uskside Engineering Works and had 30-inch wide cylinders and a 60-inch stroke. The No.2 Pit (downcast ventilation shaft) was 18 feet in diameter. It also had a Uskside winding engine which had cylinders measuring 33 inches wide with a 72-inch stroke. The winding of coal was carried in both of the shafts until 1949 when it stopped in the No.1 Pit. In 1896/1900 this pit was working the Nine-Feet (Black Vein) seam with the manager being W. Davies. Ventilation was by a steam-driven Walker type fan which was 24 feet in diameter and could produce 250,000 cubic feet of air per minute. It was installed in 1893.

An article in the Western Mail on Tuesday October 10th 1899:


An accident of a somewhat alarming nature occurred at Llanhilleth on Monday at one of the collieries owned by the firm of Partridge, Jones and Co. About noon, after the carriage had been released from the gangs, the coupling chains suddenly snapped, and a cage and two empty trams which it contained were precipitated down the shaft. The workmen employed on the pit bottom, realising the danger from the sound produced in the descent of the cage, got clear away, and, fortunately, no one was injured. Work has been suspended, and about 700 men are idle.” Llanhilleth Colliery was again in the newspapers, this time on a much more depressing note. The Western Mail Monday, December 17th 1900; “Daniel James, of Hafodarthen-terrace, Llanhilleth, was killed whilst following his employment at Messrs. Partridge, Jones and Co.’s Llanhilleth Colliery on Saturday, and his son was also seriously injured. John Griffiths, residing at No.9, Ebbw View-terrace, Newbridge, who sustained a serious accident at the same colliery earlier in the week, died from his injuries on Saturday.”

Daniel James was a collier and spoke to the fireman just half an hour before the fall of the roof that killed him. He told the fireman that everything was all right and that he had sounded the roof and it looked solid. John Griffiths was a rider (employed to control the passage of trams of coal to the pit bottom) and was riding on the back of a tram when a lump of coal in one of the trams hit a roof support and caused the roof to fall on him. He commented, “I believe my shoulders are hurt very badly.” The inquest jury passed a verdict of Accidental Death on both men. A report in the South Wales Argus Newspaper of 1901 gives a fascinating insight into industrial relations at the colliery in this era, apparently, James Woodward breached the rules by leaving his lamp burning while sleeping, in penance he gave ten shillings to the local library and funded the printing of a notice of apology that was posted on the colliery notice board.

On Thursday 23rd of October 1913, a committee of workmen examined the workings at Llanhilleth and reported them to be unsafe. The men then refused to work and the pit closed down for a while. This was soon after the explosion at Senghenydd when 439 miners died. Llanhilleth Colliery grew into a significant size during the boom times for the Coalfield and employed 1,899 men in 1913.

In 1920 Partridge, Jones and John Paton and Company was formed by the Amalgamation of the Crumlin Valley Colliery Company with Partridge, Jones, who then owned Crumlin Navigation, Gwenallt, Blaenserchan and Llanhilleth collieries. This new company had assets worth £3,000,000. Partridge Jones and Company began trading in 1864 at the Varteg Works with a partnership of Partridge, Bailey, Jones and Messrs Henry. In 1874 they expanded and controlled the Pontnewynydd Iron Works, Golynos Iron Works, Abersychan Iron Works and both Plas-y-Coed and Cwmsychan collieries. In that year a limited company was formed. John Paton by 1895 was one of the principal shareholders in the Pontnewynydd Sheet & Galvanising Works with Partridge, Jones, & Co., and with the death of W.B. Partridge in 1909 obtained a seat on the board of Partridge, Jones & Co. In 1920 the interests of both companies were amalgamated. 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. It was a member of South Wales and Monmouthshire Coal Owners Association. In 1923/5 the manager was T.E. Rutherford and in 1927/30 it was Thomas Griffiths. In 1934 the colliery employed in the Nos.1 & 2 Pits (steam coal) 123 men on the surface and 698 men underground, while the Red Ash (house coal) Pit employed 15 men on the surface and 136 men underground. The manager was still Thomas Griffiths who was still there in 1938 and 1945.

In 1943 the steam coal pit employed 538 men working underground in the Meadow Vein, Black Vein, Elled and Old Coal seams and 115 men working at the surface of the mine while the Red Ash employed 72 men working underground and 11 men working at the surface of the mine.

On Nationalisation in 1947 Llanhilleth Colliery was placed in the National Coal Board’s, South Western Division’s, No.6 (Monmouthshire) Area and at that time employed 112 men on the surface and 532 men underground working the Meadow Vein (Yard/Seven-Feet), Black Vein (Nine-Feet), Elled (Two-Feet-Nine) and Old Coal (Five-Feet/Gellideg) seams.

In July 1947, Coal, the NCB magazine, reported that Richard Dally who worked at this pit had been a miner for seventy years, he had worked at Llanhilleth for 50 years, and before that near Aberdare. In 1947 he was 79 years old. In 1950 the N.C.B carried out a survey of reserves at this pit and said that the Four-Feet had 4.3 million tons left. The Six-feet had 4.2 million tons left. The Nine-Feet was worked out. The Yard/Seven-Feet had 2.9 million tons left. The Five-Feet/Gellideg had 4.7 million tons. At that time it was pumping up the shafts 400,000 gallons of excess water per day. In 1954/55 this colliery was one of 42 that caused concern to both the NCB and the NUM over the high level of accidents.

The colliery was reviewed by the NCB on the 6th of January 1969 when it was noted that it had lost £1.52 per ton of coal produced in September 1968, £2.45 in October and £3.92 in November 1968. Llanhilleth Colliery was closed by the National Coal Board on March 22nd 1969.

Prior to closure, it was working the Three-quarter, Meadow Vein, Big Vein and Old Coal seams with the manager being H.L. Johnston. There were 486 men at the colliery on closure, 90 were retained for salvage purposes, about 60 went redundant, 110 were transferred to Marine Colliery, 94 to Six Bells, 30 to Abertillery New Mine, 27 to Tirpentwys, 27 to Blaenserchan, 17 to Oakdale, 13 to Hafodyrynys New Mine, 12 to the Celynen North and 6 to the Celynen South

Based on the Nine-Feet seam the coals of this colliery were classed as type 301B Prime Coking Coal suitable as a foundry and blast furnace coke.

Some, but not all, of the early fatalities at this mine;

  • 22/11/1882, N.G. Hemming, aged 18, screener, crushed by railway trucks.
  • 22/8/1884, Thomas Birchall, aged 29, collier, run over by trams.
  • 1/9/1896, Griffith Griffiths, aged 36, collier, roof fall.
  • 20/10/1898, William Morgan, aged 70, collier, roof fall.
  • 23/10/1899, William Reader, aged 13, collier boy, roof fall.
  • 13/4/1910, J.S. Lewis, aged 16, collier boy, roof fall.
  • 7/9/1910, James Gwynne, aged 28, haulier, run over by trams.
  • 6/1/1911, William Beard, aged 63, labourer, crushed by trams.
  • 2/8/1911, Thomas Morris, aged 37, haulier, roof fall.
  • 5/12/1911, Harry Nelder, aged 16, carter, strain.
  • 18/5/1912, Thomas Thomas, aged 62, collier, roof fall.
  • 25/5/1914, William Tippings, aged 53, ripper, fell down shaft.
  • 10/11/1914, Charles Morgan, aged 30, chaff cutter, crushed by machinery.
  • 21/2/1929, William Henry Adams, aged 50, haulier, crushed by trams.

Some Statistics:

  • 1896: Manpower: 803.
  • 1899: Manpower: 1,099.
  • 1900: Manpower: 1,521.
  • 1901: Manpower: 1,629.
  • 1902: Manpower: 1,622.
  • 1903: Manpower: 1,631.
  • 1905: Manpower: 1,536.
  • 1907: Manpower: 1,754.
  • 1908: Manpower: 1,809.
  • 1909: Manpower: 1,709.
  • 1910: Manpower: 1,949.
  • 1911: Manpower: 2,079.
  • 1912: Manpower: 1,849.
  • 1913: Manpower: 1,899.
  • 1915: Manpower: 1,890.
  • 1916: Manpower: 1,296.
  • 1918: Manpower: 1,305, Red Ash: 77.
  • 1919: Manpower: 1,329.
  • 1920: Manpower: 1,294.
  • 1923: Manpower: 1,302, Red Ash: 93.
  • 1924: Manpower: 1,279, Red Ash: 80.
  • 1925: Manpower: 1,304.
  • 1926: Manpower: 972.
  • 1927: Manpower: 669, Red Ash:154.
  • 1928: Manpower: 709, Red Ash:114.
  • 1929: Manpower: 810.
  • 1930: Manpower: 1,302, Red Ash: 93.
  • 1932: Manpower: 886.
  • 1933: Manpower: 874, Red Ash: 167.
  • 1934: Manpower: 924, Red Ash: 163.
  • 1935: Manpower: 822.
  • 1937: Manpower: 620, Red Ash: 141.
  • 1938: Manpower: 627, Red Ash: 111.
  • 1940/4: Manpower: 1,395.
  • 1945: Manpower: 653, Red Ash: 83.
  • 1947: Manpower: 645.
  • 1948: Manpower: 614. Output: 175,000 tons.
  • 1949: Manpower: 680. Output: 150,000 tons.
  • 1950: Manpower: 680.
  • 1953: Manpower: 730. Output: 187,000 tons.
  • 1955: Manpower: 745. Output: 199,467 tons.
  • 1956: Manpower: 767. Output: 168,659 tons.
  • 1957: Manpower: 816. Output: 202,497 tons.
  • 1958: Manpower: 804. Output: 190,114 tons.
  • 1960: Manpower: 753. Output: 148,000 tons.
  • 1961: Manpower: 728. Output: 139,984 tons.
  • 1962: Manpower: 734.


LLANHILLETH COLLIERY – Llanhilleth, Ebbw Valley

This colliery is listed as being a level working in the Brithdir (Tillery) seam and closed in 1888 after being owned by Henry Powell. There must be a mistake in this listing, either this was a level working the Mynyddislwyn seam, or it was the Red Ash Pit. The Llanhilleth Fault threw the Brithdir seam down at least 80 yards from the bottom of the valley making it unlikely that it was worked from a level in this area. Probably the pit listed below.



This pit is reported to have been sunk in 1802 to a depth of 241 feet to the Red Ash (Brithdir) seam at a tremendous cost in those days of £30,000 possibly by a Mr. Blewitt. By 1858 it was owned by Thomas Protheroe who sold it on to the Powell Brothers who held it until its purchase by Partridge, Jones & Company in 1890. It became part of Llanhilleth Colliery after 1870 and was closed in February 1947 due to the exhaustion of the coal reserves.


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


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