Abercraf, Swansea Valley 82378/12050

This was an anthracite mine near the northern outcrop that was owned in 1865/70 by the British Iron Company and in 1872/93 by the Abercrave Colliery Company. In 1893 it was managed by W.W. Morgan. In 1896 it employed 154 men underground and 18 men on the surface with the
manager being W.W. Morgan. It was later owned by the Abercrave and International Collieries Limited, the Abercrave Colliery Company and finally Welsh Anthracite Collieries Limited who held the colliery until nationalisation in 1947. This company was a member of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association. It was served by the Midland Railways, Swansea Vale Section.

Abercrave found that the Two-Feet-Nine seam in this area had a thickness of 19”, the Upper-Four- Feet seam had a thickness of 38 inches, the Six-Feet seam was 33 inches, the Red Vein was 44 inches, the Nine-Feet seam was nine feet thick, and the Bute seam was 37” in thickness. Amongst others, this pit extensively worked the Red Vein and Nine Feet seams. In 1901 the colliery consisted of the Nine-Feet slant and the Four-Feet slant. Both were worked by pillar & stall and naked lights were in use. Ventilation for both slants was by a furnace. In 1910 it was working the Nine-Feet and Four-Feet seams.

This colliery employed 237 men underground and 43 men on the surface in 1908 when it was managed by David .J. Davies, 380 men in 1913/15/16 when the manager was still David J. Davies. Mr. Davies was still there in 1918 when this pit employed 159 men underground and 49 men on the surface. Remarkably D.J. Davies was still the manager in 1927 but by 1930 the manager was W. James. In the 1920s overseas markets for Welsh anthracite coals were rapidly expanding and some of the leading coal owners in this section of the Coalfield felt that a complete overhaul in the running of the mines, and of the marketing of anthracite was required. Sir Alfred Moritz Mond formed and became chairman of the first of the anthracite combines when he formed the Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries Limited in 1923, Sir Beddoes Rees was quick to follow Mond’s example and merged eight small colliery companies, including the Abercrave Colliery Company, to form the Welsh Anthracite Collieries Limited. In 1943 Abercrave employed 262 men working underground and 88 men on the surface of the mine. It was working the Two-Feet, Four- Feet and Middle Vein. In 1943/49 the manager was J.P. Davies.

The Colliery came under the control of the National Coal Board following Nationalisation in 1947 and had its own coal preparation plant. In
January 1954 new pit head baths were installed at a cost of £26,000. The difficult geology encountered at the pit caused it to suffer heavy financial losses in the 1950s. In 1956 out of a total manpower of 463 men employed at this colliery, 391 of them were NUM members and 217 of them worked at the coalfaces. The colliery manpower increased during the rest of the 1950s with in 1961 there were 276 men at the coalfaces out of the colliery total of 669.

In 1961 this colliery was grouped along with Pwllbach, Varteg, Yniscedwyn and Tirbach collieries to form the No.3 Group of the No.9 (Neath) Area. Total manpower for the Group was 1,746, and coal production was 310,819 tons. The manager of the No.3 Group was D. Evans, and of the No.9 Area, C. Round. The NUM Lodge Secretary in 1964 was Rees Watkins.

The Clean Air Act; and the increased use of central heating in homes boosted the demand for anthracite coal and kept the colliery open for a while but by March 1966 the NCB stated their intention to close one of the two drifts. The reserves of coal in the Eighteen-Feet seam drift were coming to an end and the NCB wanted to transfer 260 men to other mines in the anthracite area. By November 1966 output per manshift had slumped to 15.1 hundredweights and the colliery was losing £3.60 per ton of coal produced. The NCB closed it in March 23rd 1967 offering the younger miners work at Cynheidre Colliery which was twenty-five miles away. About 200 men were thrown on the dole with no other work available for them.

Just some of those that died at this mine:

  • 24/09/1874, D. Handry, Age: 13: Collier: Killed by an explosion of gas.
  • 16/07/1895, Thomas Rees, Age: 52: Collier: Explosion of firedamp in the Big Vein (anthracite) workings during the night shift burning deceased fatally and three others slightly. Naked lights
  • 12/11/1896, Gwilyn Morgan, Age: 13: Door boy: Run over by trams near the door which he attended
  • 2/06/1897, Thomas Thomas, Age: 21: Collier: Fall of side at face of coal
  • 28/09/1898, David Lloyd, Age: 36: Collier Fall of roof at face
  • 16/02/1899, Thomas Watkins, Age: 15: Collier: Fall of side at face top coal 2ft. x 2ft x 15ins. thick fell while he was tilling his box with curlings. A sprag was set against the bottom coal but none against the top coal.
  • 26/06/1899, David Jones, Age: 34: Haulier Fatally injured by journey entering double parting while deceased was stooping to see if the points were set right. Died 3rd July.
  • 27/08/1910, J.N. Dyer, Age: 30: Repairer: Run over by trolley
  • 29/01/1912, Thomas Hadley, Age: 17: Collier Fall of side at working face. His comrade was pulling a small piece of top coal and as deceased moved back he stumbled over some loose coal on floor and was caught by falling coal. He walked part of the way out, and died following day.
  • 24/12/1913, John Gambold, Age: 43: Collier Fall of side when repairing an old road. A stone 20 to 30 lbs. in weight fell causing fractured ribs and abdominal injuries. He died on December 25th.
  • 24/11/1914, Henry Dixon, Age: 52: Collier: Fall of roof at face as he was preparing to fix a post under a piece of insecure roof. The stone pinned him against a post standing near.
  • 18/12/1926, John Williams, Age: 39: Collier: Stone from roof slipped between face and centre post – he was in the act of preparing to put prop under stone – neck dislocated.
  • 28/01/1927, David Dorey, Age: 27: Ropeman: Preparing to stand pair of timber in entrance to old crosscut which had been reopened by blasting which loosened roof and a stone fell on him.
  • 2/03/1927, David W. Lewis, Age: 29: Collier: Digging coal with pick, hit the roof knocking out two posts when roof broke where he was digging when stone fell.

Some Statistics:

  • 1899: Manpower: 153.
  • 1900: Manpower: 161.
  • 1901: Manpower: 160.
  • 1902: Manpower: 181.
  • 1903: Manpower: 206.
  • 1907: Manpower: 188.
  • 1908: Manpower: 280.
  • 1909: Manpower: 280.
  • 1910: Manpower: 319.
  • 1911: Manpower: 265.
  • 1912: Manpower: 346
  • 1913: Manpower: 380.
  • 1916: Manpower: 380.
  • 1919: Manpower: 380.
  • 1920: Manpower: 380.
  • 1922: Manpower: 380.
  • 1923: Manpower: 275. Output:90,000 tons.
  • 1924  Manpower: 282.
  • 1927: Manpower: 332.
  • 1928: Manpower: 371.
  • 1929: Manpower: 380.
  • 1930: Manpower: 303.
  • 1933: Manpower: 380.
  • 1935: Manpower: 303.
  • 1937: Manpower: 363.
  • 1938: Manpower: 352.
  • 1940: Manpower: 239.
  • 1943: Manpower: 350.
  • 1945: Manpower 350.
  • 1949: Manpower: 470. Output:100,000 tons.
  • 1950: Manpower: 474.
  • 1953: Manpower: 508. Output: 115,400 tons.
  • 1954: Output: 85,161 tons.
  • 1955: Manpower 478. Output: 80,731 tons.
  • 1956: Manpower 463. Output: 84,337 tons.
  • 1957: Manpower: 555. Output: 109,794 tons.
  • 1958: Manpower: 555. Output: 96,742 tons.
  • 1960: Manpower: 669. Output: 106,111 tons.
  • 1961: Manpower: 658. Output: 109,856 tons.


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

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