Abersychan, Afan Lwyd Valley (25600385)

The Abersychan Big Pit was owned in 1878 by the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Company. When this Company leased out its mines in 1883 it came under the control of the Abersychan Elled Company which was owned by Hoskins & Llewellyn. By 1908 it was in the hands of Powell’s Tillery Steam Coal Company who renamed it Lower Navigation or Powell’s Navigation. The original pit had been sunk to a depth of 149.5 metres, striking the Nine-Feet seam at 119.5 metres, and the Old Coal seam at 140.7 metres. However, Powell’s company decided to update the mine and sank another shaft Lower Navigation) in 1916 to the Garw seam at a depth of 88 metres. The new shaft was 14 feet in diameter. The colliery was then modernized using electric haulages both underground and on the surface, and up to date Sulzer pumps to remove excess water from the workings. In 1896 the Big Pit employed 409 men underground and 92 men on the surface with the manager being T.C. Smith.

It was listed in 1907 and employed 524 miners while in 1908 it was listed along with Golynos and they employed 443 men underground and 148 men on the surface. The manager was Herbert Dakers and it worked the Big Vein and Elled seams.

In one week in February 1910, two men lost their lives here; on the 8th James Jayne, aged 76 years and a lamplighter died when a full journey was being drawn out from a double parting when the rope broke and as the bar hook also broke the journey ran back into some full trams behind which he was standing and they fractured his leg. Died 27th March 1910. Then on the 15th, David Watkins, aged 64 years, and a doorkeeper was crushed by a journey of trams on the engine plane at a door he had charge of. Clearly, no place for old men to work!

In 1915 Mr. Frowen employed 650 men and in 1916, 550 men were here but in 1918 the manager was H.G. Davies and this pit employed 406 men underground and 132 men on the surface. In 1927/31 A.J. Davies was the manager and it employed 650 men. In 1935 the pit employed 70 men on the surface and 570 men underground producing

150,000 tons of coal with the manager now being W. Rogers but in 1938 and 1945 only 8 men worked underground in the Meadow Vein and 9 men on the surface. In 1934 the Powell’s Tillery Company was based at the Ebbw Vale Works with the directors being; Sir John W. Beynon, Sir Arthur Lowes Dickinson, David H. Allan and Trevor L. Mort. The company secretary was Richard Green with the commercial manager being P. Fernihough. At that time it controlled three collieries that employed 1,930 miners who produced 550,000 tons of coal. This Company was a member of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association.

Navigation Colliery generally produced type 501 High Volatile Coals, low ash, low sulphur, very strong caking, and for use with gas-making or coke ovens. The pit had already been closed as a production unit on Nationalisation in 1947 and underground and 6 men on the surface in 1947 and 9 men underground and 2 men on the surface in 1954.


VARTEG WORKS – Varteg, Afan Lwyd Valley

This was an umbrella name to cover all the small levels used to feed the Varteg Iron Works. They were owned in 1878 by P. Jones and Company.

Some of those that died in these mines:

  • 4/06/1829, Thomas Thomas: Miner: Killed underground by piece of iron falling on his head.
  • 9/08/1854, Abraham Jones: Collier: Explosion of firedamp from brushing out.
  • 2/10/1854, John Herbert: Roof fall 30 tons weight. 2 killed.
  • 6/02/1855, William Lewis, Age: 47: Collier: Fall of stone.
  • 14/02/1857, Henry Smith, Age: 48: Collier: Fall of rock vein after blasting.
  • 27/07/1857, George Tapp, Age: 40: Coal filler: Crushed between loaded tram
  • 18/02/1858, Daniel Williams, Age: 49: Collier: Fall of roof in one of the stalls.
  • 12/10/1859, George Phillips, Age: 23: Wound over pulley.
  • 12/11/1860, Thomas Shelf, Age: 48: Collier: About a foot of clod which lies immediately over the coal fell
  • 24/02/1862, William Hookey: Roof fall.
  • 12/11/1860, Thomas Self: Fall of a stone.
  • 3/02/1865, David Williams, Age: 45: Onsetter: A tram of rubbish had arrived almost at daylight when a piece of stone detached itself and fell down the pit striking him on the head.
  • 29/01/1866, John Redwood, Age: 37: Collier He was barring the coal down in the face of his work when it too suddenly fell and forced the iron bar with such violence against his abdomen as to cause death in a few hours. He was a skilful, careful man and had placed as he supposed sufficient timber to ease the coal as it fell.
  • 11/01/1867, John Webber, Age: 13: Miner: Fall of roof containing balls of mine which some of them had been trying to wedge down but did not succeed and so left it when unfortunately this boy (who was too young for such work) came in and the roof immediately fell and killed him.
  • 6/05/1868, Edward Redman, Age: 13: Haulier: Whilst driving his horse and loaded tram up a dip heading he either fell under or was riding in front with his feet so hear the ground as to be drawn under the loaded tram. Nobody was near him at the time and the exact mode of death is unknown.
  • 18/12/1868, Caleb Carter, Age: 23: Miner: Whilst filling a tram with rubbish in the horse road near the face of his stall the roof fell and so injured him that he died 21st after undergoing amputation
  • 29/08/1870, Henry Jones Age: 14: Miner: Fall of roof over bottom mine in the Black pin level.
  • 22/06/1871, William Roynon, Age: 43: Collier: Fall of coal and rashings.
  • 27/06/1873, Ab. Wiltshire, Age: 30: Miner: Fall of clod. Died 3rd Aug.
  • 23/06/1875, William Cook, Age: 55: Collier: Fall of roof.
  • 4/06/1878, William Jones, Age: 23: Collier: Fall of coal.
  • 11/07/1887, W.H. Morgan, Age: 13: Door boy: Fall of roof coal from slips


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

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