Abertillery, Ebbw Fach Valley (219049)

This pit was also called Penybont. Despite the name ‘Tillery’ it was sunk to the steam coal seams of the Middle and Lower Coal Measures and not to the Tillery seam of the Upper Coal Measures. It was sunk in 1851 by Jayne’s Tillery Company and encountered the Four-Feet seam at a depth of 174.3 metres, and the Nine-Feet seam at a depth of 217.9 metres. As early as 1866 this pit was working the longwall method of coal extraction. Generally, this colliery produced type 301B Prime Coking Coals for use as foundry and blast furnace coke.

It was managed by E. Evans in 1878, and listed in 1888 as working the Three-quarter (Upper-Six-Feet) and Elled (Four-Feet) seams under the ownership of the Tillery Coal Company Limited. The manager at that time was T.J. Davidson. This colliery employed 681 men in 1896 and 617 underground and 68 on the surface in 1900.

Powell’s Tillery Steam Coal Company Limited was incorporated in 1904 but had taken control of the colliery by at least 1900 when T.J. Lamb was the manager. This company was a member of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association. In 1913 Tillery Colliery, along with the Grey and Vivian Pits of Abertillery employed 2,777 men and in 1915 they employed 2,900 men. If you add this figure to the men working at Roseheyworth, Cwmtillery, Griffin and Six Bells collieries, all within one mile radius of Tillery Colliery, you will find that 9,479 men were employed in coal mining within this area, making Abertillery one of the most intensely mined areas in the World. In 1918 Tillery/Gray/Vivian employed 2,665 men with W.C. Evans as manager.

In the early 1920s, Powell’s Tillery Steam Coal Company became a subsidiary company of the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Company which in October 1924 temporarily closed thus colliery. At that time it employed 900 men but in 1927 it was back in full swing employing 2,500 men along with Gray and Powell’s Navigation. 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. In 1935 the Ebbw Vale Company sold off its mining interests to Partridge, Jones and John Paton and Company. At that time Tillery Colliery employed 70 men working at the surface of the mine and 550 men working underground producing 200,000 tons of coal from the Three-Quarter seam. This seam was part of the Big Vein group of seams which covered a vertical area of 52 feet 11 inches interspersed with dirt bands. The Elled seam was 52 inches thick, the Old Coal seam consisted of top coal 28 inches, dirt 3 inches, bottom coal 18 inches, while the Meadow Vein was coal 36 inches, dirt 8 inches, coal 24 inches.

Tillery Colliery was closed as a production unit in 1938 when it then employed 17 men but was retained for a while by the National Coal Board after 1947 as a training centre for recruits to the mining industry.

Just some of those that died in this mine:

  • 19/1/1852, Seth Barclay aged 23 years, explosion of gas.
  • 24/7/1852, David Waters aged 44 years, explosion of gas.
  • 10/9/1852, William Morgan aged 25 years, fell down the shaft.
  • 30/1/1854, John Robins fell out of the carriage.
  • 17/9/1856, George Mason, aged 12 years, haulage accident.
  • 5/11/1864, Thomas Woolshaw aged 14 years, fall of the roof.
  • 20/8/1877, J. McCarthy aged 14 years, haulage accident.
  • 5/10/1880, Joseph Lippiat aged 51 years, fall of the roof.
  • 25/6/1881, C. Farney aged 15 years, fall of the roof.
  • 17/11/1881, A. Parnell aged 45 years, fall of the roof.
  • 14/8/1882, Edward Gorman aged 37 years, haulage accident.
  • 25/6/1883, F. Skidmore aged 18 years, fall of the roof.
  • 21/11/1883, E. Chivers aged 18 years, fell down pit.
  • 10/11/1885, Henry Morgan aged 23 years, haulage accident.
  • 11/8/1887, William Holbrook aged 15 years, crushed.
  • 16/3/1892, Augustus Everson aged 41 years, locomotive accident.
  • 20/12/1893, D.J. Ashton aged 15 years, fall of the roof.
  • 13/2/1894, Albert Hunt, aged 33, locomotive accident.
  • 16/5/1895, William Evans aged 52 years, fall of the roof.
  • 29/6/1895, Richard Weaver aged 38 years, locomotive accident.
  • 14/8/1895, John Curtis aged 22 years, haulage accident.
  • 1/10/1895, Charles Carter aged 40 years, heart failure.
  • 1/9/1896, William Lane aged 37 years, fall of the roof.
  • 24/8/1897, James Pritchard aged 37 years, fall of the roof.
  • 11/2/1898, James Herbert aged 16 years, haulage accident.
  • 18/10/1898, Thomas Coles aged 27 years, was killed by a detonator.
  • 25/3/1899, Worthy Gunning aged 25 years, haulage accident.
  • 7/4/1899, John Thomas aged 35 years, fall of the roof.
  • 12/3/1910, A.R. Jones aged 18 years, haulage accident.
  • 16/3/1911, W.H. Hoskins aged 25 years, haulage accident.
  • 12/7/1911, Thomas Watkins aged 46 years, heart failure.
  • 30/4/1912, Eli Gibbons aged 31 years, fall of the roof.
  • 17/10/1912, Thomas Morgan aged 48 years, fall of the roof.



There were numerous small levels of this name working in the mid and late 19th Century in this area that worked the Tillery (Bnthdir) seam.

Amongst the owners were; Clapp and Williams, Abertillery and Talywaun Red Ash Collieries Limited, Jayne and Company, T. Robbins, John Vipond, Tillery Coal Company, and Emery and Gibson who were still working a Tillery Red Ash Level in 1932, it had closed by 1935.

The Tillery seam was originally called the Tilestone’ seam, whose name was derived from the Tilestone rock which overlies the coal. It outcrops on either side of the Valley at Abertillery until as far as Aberbeeg where the Llanhilleth Fault drives it approximately 90 yards downwards. Besides its recognised name of ‘Brithdir, this seam was also known as the Pontygwaith or Red Ash.
In 1864, on the 18th of January, William James aged 50 years, died in a haulage accident. On the 11th of March 1887, Arthur Handy aged 12 years, did under a fall of roof.

At NGR 225049/226050/225049 were the Coronation and Wellington levels that were working as early as 1849. They were purchased by Clapp and Williams in 1865 who renamed them Tillery Nos.1 & 2. They closed in 1882.

The Bevan Brothers owned a level at 223050 in 1864 which was possibly Thomas Powell’s old Cwmtillery Level. John Jayne then owned it between 1866 and 1873, then Jayne & Co., Limited between 1874 and 1880, and then B. Jayne and Co. in 1881.

Between 1882 and 1888 it was the turn of the Tillery Coal Company who passed it on to T. Robbins and Co. in 1888 who formed, with E. Williams, the Abertillery Collieries Company in 1890 they lasted until it closed in 1896.


Abertillery, Ebbw Fach Valley

This was a small level that worked the Tillery (Brithdir) seam and was owned by Ham, Emery & Rogers. It employed 18 men in 1923, 21 men in 1927 and 10 men in 1928.


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

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