Ystradgynlais, Swansea Valley (798107)

This mine was flanked to the east by Onllwyn Colliery, to the north by Gwaunclawdd Colliery and by Ystradgynlais Colliery to the south. It was an anthracite mine that was served by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (Swansea Vale Section), and was opened in 1872 by the Yniscedwyn Iron Company. Iron making on a commercial scale had started in this area before 1720 when Messrs. Crowley and Company opened an iron works at Yniscedwyn. By 1780 Mr. Parsons owned a forge at Ystalyfera, and he was joined in 1837 by Treacher and James who constructed furnaces there. In 1838 these concerns were purchased and merged by Budd and Company who worked them until the 1880s. In 1883 the Old, New and Balance were all managed by Isaac Evans.

Up until 1892 access to the mine was by a shaft 90 yards deep but due to water problems in the shaft it was then used solely for pumping purposes and new drift was opened at a dip of 1 in 3 for 300 yards for men/supplies and raising coal. The winding drums for both the shaft and the drift were coupled to the same steam engine.

On the 24th of August 1892 nine men were in manriding trams ready to go down the drift when, for some unknown reason, one of the men removed the stop block at the mouth of the drift and they hurtled uncontrolled into the mine collided with the roof and caused a fall of the roof which killed six of them and injured another three. Those that died were Thomas Sims aged 70 years, William Jones aged 30, Thomas Phillips aged 42, Rees Pippin aged 27 years, Edward Anthony aged 35, and William Lewis aged 17 years.

In 1893 this colliery was owned by the Yniscedwyn Colliery Company of Ystradgynlais which employed Owen Powell as the manager. In 1896 the mine was owned by the Ystradgynlais Colliery Company and employed 193 men underground and 32 men on the surface, the manager was still Owen Powell and in 1900 it was F.H. Bell. In 1901 the colliery was described as working the Big and Brass Veins by pillar and stall with safety lamps being used in the Big Vein and naked lights being used in the Brass Vein. The upcast ventilation shaft was 16 feet by 12 feet and 300 feet deep with ventilation by the Guibal Fan 20 feet in diameter and 7 feet 6 inches wide. In 1908 the manager was W. Williams. In 1913 this colliery was managed by George Robbings and employed 618 men. At that time was owned by the South Wales Anthracite Colliery Company Limited of Eagle Chambers, Swansea (since at least 1900). In 1915/6 the manager was T. Slater. Ownership had changed again by 1917, this time the owners were the Yniscedwyn Anthracite Company Limited. This company was a member of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association. In 1919/27 the manager was A. Lloyd.

In 1910 a man called Sir Alfred Moritz Mond moved into south Wales, Mond was soon to make a major impact on the anthracite section of the Coalfield by forming Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries Limited. He observed the chaotic state of the mining industry in the area (there were over one hundred small colliery companies producing 4,833,000 tons of anthracite coal in 1913) and set about forming his own combine which came to dominate the anthracite area; his plan was to eliminate competition, pool financial resources, reduce overheads, allocate coal reserves, fix prices and markets, and reduce costs.

Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries Limited was formed in 1923 by absorbing Cleeve’s Western Valleys Anthracite Collieries Limited and its subsidiary, Gellyceidrirn Collieries Company Limited, then the Gurnos Anthracite Collieries Limited and Yniscedwyn Anthracite Collieries Limited. Mond continued to swallow up the smaller companies, and the opposition combines, until by 1925 Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries had accumulated profits of

By 1935 Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries controlled 26 anthracite collieries that produced 4,300,000 tons of coal annually, and employed 13,779 men, 600 of them at Yniscedwyn (the manager at that time was D. Lloyd). In 1943/5 the manager was W.O. Jones. In 1943 this colliery employed 393 men underground working the Middle Vein and 111 men working at the surface of the mine. Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries continued to hold Yniscedwyn Colliery until Nationalisation in 1947.

On Nationalisation in 1947, Yniscedwyn Colliery was placed in the National Coal Board’s, South Western Division’s, No.1 (Swansea) Area (this Area was found to be too large to manage and Yniscedwyn Colliery was later transferred to the newly formed No.9 (Neath) Area).

In 1947 this colliery employed 103 men working at the surface of the mine and 367 men underground working the Middle Vein which was probably the Lower-Five-Feet seam. It had a thickness of between 0.71 to 0.81 metres. The colliery had its own coal preparation plant (washery) and was a depot for Central Workshops. The manager at that time was W.O. Jones.

The method of coal filling was hand got by shovels onto a face conveyor. Due to the thin seam and the conditions the output per manshift was only 10 cwts, with, in 1947, only 65,000 tons of coal produced. In 1950 the Black Vein was ‘found’ with a section of 33 inches and a new face opened with coal cutters and face conveyors. It was then decided to drive a new drift from the surface into the Black Vein and modernise the mine, compressed air machinery was replaced with electric ones, trunk conveyors brought the coal all the way out instead of a rickety haulage system, ventilation was improved and on the surface new baths were installed. By 1956 it employed 457 men and produced 80,700 tons in the first nine months with an OMS of 20.8 cwts. It was estimated that there were 7 million tons of coal in that seam alone.

At this colliery, the Six-Feet seam was 36 inches thick. The Red Vein seam was extensively worked and had a thickness of 48 inches. The Nine-Feet seam was called the Big Vein and was extensively worked although it became abnormally thick in places and increased from 11 feet to 70 feet thick. The Bute seam was called the Brass seam and was extensively worked at a thickness of 36 inches. The Gellideg seam was 21 inches thick. It abandoned the Brass Vein in 1939, the Nine-Feet in 1943 and the Black Vein on closure in 1968. In 1955 out of the total colliery manpower of 459 men, 223 of them worked at the coalfaces, in 1957 those figures were 513/189 respectively. In 1961 the colliery was still in the No.9 Area’s, No.3 Group along with Abercrave, Pwllbach and Varteg Collieries. The total manpower for this Group in that year was 1,746 men, while the total amount of coal produced by this Group in that year was 310,819 tons. The Group Manager was T. Walters and the Area Manager was C. Round.

In 1961/2 the NCB expended £170,000 at this colliery with the result that output increased from 700 tons a day to 1,000 tons a day. In 1964 the National Union of Mineworkers Lodge Secretary at this colliery was Bryn Jenkins. In 1965 the colliery was in danger of closing with the NCB stating that they were not closing the pit – the men were and quoted absenteeism figures of up to 37%. The NUM appealed for another chance and by July the output per manshift at the colliery had risen to 25 hundredweights and closure was deferred. Yniscedwyn Colliery was closed by the NCB on the 22nd of March 1968.

Just a few of those that died in this mine:

  • 13/4/1859, Joseph Llewellyn, aged 34 years, collier in the Arch level, roof fall.
  • 19/4/1859, John Jones, aged 13 years, Doorboy, roof fall.
  • 8/6/1866, David Jones, aged 50 years, collier, roof fall.
  • 11/6/1870, J. Powell, aged 45 years, overman, fell down the shaft.
  • 24/11/1884, Thomas Evans, aged 28 years, collier, fall of the roof.
  • 30/1/1893, Evan Jenkins, aged 47 years, labourer, fall of the roof.
  • 5/7/1898, Henry Davies, aged 15 years, collier boy, roof fall.
  • 11/6/1912, William Hughes, aged 48 years, labourer, crushed by trams.
  • 16/10/1912, Daniel Thomas, aged 67 years, sawyer, fractured ribs caused a heart attack.
  • 23/5/1928, Griffith Rees, aged 61 years, labourer, crushed by trams.
  • 23/5/1928, Alfred Powell, aged 34 years, haulier, roof fall.
  • 23/6/1928, Thomas Morris, aged 36 years, collier, run over by trams.
  • 5/7/1928, David John Rees, aged 35 years, labourer, run over by trams.
  • 21/3/1931, Alexander Rees, aged 22 years, collier, run over by trams.

Some Statistics:

  • 1896: Manpower: 225.
  • 1899: Manpower: 302.
  • 1900: Manpower: 272.
  • 1901: Manpower: 312.
  • 1902: Manpower: 433.
  • 1903: Manpower: 429.
  • 1905: Manpower: 366.
  • 1907: Manpower: 661.
  • 1908: Manpower: 619.
  • 1909: Manpower: 619.
  • 1910: Manpower: 673.
  • 1911: Manpower: 608.
  • 1912: Manpower: 653.
  • 1913: Manpower: 618..
  • 1915: Manpower: 650.
  • 1916: Manpower: 650.
  • 1919:Manpower: 650.
  • 1920: Manpower: 650.
  • 1922: Manpower: 650.
  • 1923: Manpower: 528.
  • 1924: Manpower: 563.
  • 1925: Manpower: 450.
  • 1926: Manpower: 577.
  • 1927: Manpower: 556.
  • 1928: Manpower: 483.
  • 1929: Manpower: 368.
  • 1931: Manpower:470.
  • 1933: Manpower: 555.
  • 1935: Manpower: 600.
  • 1937: Manpower: 617.
  • 1938: Manpower: 642.
  • 1940: Manpower: 644.
  • 1941: Manpower: 674.
  • 1942: Manpower: 655.
  • 1944: Manpower: 442.
  • 1945: Manpower: 504.
  • 1947: Manpower: 470.
  • 1948: Manpower: 489. Output: 75,000 tons.
  • 1950: Manpower: 490.
  • 1954: Manpower: 454. Output: 77,000 tons.
  • 1955: Manpower: 459. Output: 83.997 tons.
  • 1956: Manpower: 456. Output: 113,776 tons.
  • 1957: Manpower: 477. Output: 103.776 tons.
  • 1958: Manpower: 470. Output: 105,475 tons.
  • 1960: Manpower: 483. Output: 115,100 tons.
  • 1961: Manpower: 513. Output: 113,969 tons.
  • 1965: Manpower: 506.


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

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