Gilfach Goch, Ogmore Valley (SS 9827 8987)

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This mine was opened around 1873 by the Dinas Main Coal Company with a mineral lease of over 2,000 acres. It consisted of two shafts; The Llewellyn Pit (SS 9827 8985) which was 20 feet in diameter and sunk to a depth of 512 yards and the North Pit which was the upcast ventilation shaft. The shafts were 30 yards apart.

In 1896 it employed 312 men underground and 85 men on the surface with Robert Snape as manager. The 15 feet diameter Trane Pit was originally sunk in 1887 to a depth of 332 yards and deepened between July 1911 and March 1912 to a depth of 462 yards to the Four-Feet seam.

The Britannic Merthyr Coal Company Limited operated at the extreme end of this valley where it had a mineral lease of 2,000 acres. By the time of the deepening of Trane Pit it had already become part of the Cambrian Combine (1910) which was formalised into the Consolidated Cambrian Limited in 1913.

In 1929 it was merged into Welsh Associated Collieries Limited, which in 1935 merged with the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company Limited to form the Powell Duffryn Associated Collieries Limited who held Trane Colliery until Nationalisation in 1947.

In 1910 a particularly vicious strike and lock-out occurred called the Cambrian Combine Dispute. This colliery was one of those on strike/locked out and played its part in the disruption of the times. In November 1910, a policeman scared off three men who had bored holes in the walls of the manager’s house and were about to blow it up. The Times newspaper reported that the colliery officials at Gilfach Goch were terrorized by the strikers:

One of them received a message early in the morning that he was wanted at the colliery office. He was waylaid by strikers who took him down to the river and were about to throw him in when his shouts were heard by the police who rescued him.

In December 1910, thirteen striking miners were charged with wrongfully intimidating William Gould, a working miner. Four of them were also charged with using violence against Gould. Gould had been attending some pumps on the surface of the mine and then made his way to the colliery office with an escort of four policemen. A large crowd gathered on either side of him and started booing and shouting and throwing stones. His escort was then increased to 17 policemen while the crowds increased to about 300. The police formed a ring around Gould and were then surrounded by the crowd who stopped their progress. For about ten minutes some of the crowd would rush the cordon and hit Gould, once hitting him to the ground. Gould then told the crowd that he had had enough and that he would leave at once. He was then escorted over the mountain into the Rhondda. Two men were sentenced to six months imprisonment and one man was fined £20.

In September 1911 work commenced on deepening the Trane Pit to the Four-Feet seam. Four of the sinkers died and three were injured on 27/4/1913. The side of the shaft which they were walling, moved and tipped over their staging causing them to fall into the water at the bottom of the shaft. Those that died were; Tom Peters, James Lewis Evans, Fred gale and Pugh Metcalf.

It was purchased from the Dinas Main Co., by the Britannic Merthyr Coal Company, who in 1910 joined the Cambrian Combine, a shareholders meeting on the 3rd of April 1913, voting by 90% to approve amalgamation.

The Cambrian Combine was the brainchild of David Alfred Thomas, later Lord Rhondda, whose ambition to combine enough companies to control 80% of the South Wales Coalfield and therefore be powerful enough to control and regulate the steam coal trade in South Wales had, in the past been thwarted by the indifference of the other coal owners. Disillusioned he drifted away from the coal industry to try his hand a politics, when he failed to obtain a cabinet position he returned to the coal trade with new vigour. Starting with the Cambrian Collieries, he acquired controlling interest in the Glamorgan Coal Company in 1907, of the Naval Colliery Company in 1908, and in 1910 the Britannic and Penrhiwfer Companies. In 1913 his mining interests were formed into the Consolidated Cambrian Limited which had an output of 3,000,000 tons of coal.

In 1913, the Britannic Collieries consisted of Britannic which employed 773 men working the steam coal seams, and the Dinas Main Level working the house coal seams. The manager was D. Bowen Jones in 1909/11 and T.W. Evans in 1913.

A book published by the Business Statistics Company of Cardiff in 1915, titled South Wales Coal and Iron Companies describes the Consolidated Cambrian Company as:

formed in March 1913 to acquire shares in the Cambrian Collieries Ltd, Glamorgan Coal Co, Naval Colliery Company (1897) Ltd, and Britannic Merthyr Coal Co. All the properties owned by the various companies are situated in the centre of the Admiralty Steam Coal Dis-trict. With the four new Pits being sunk the Combined Col-lieries will be working 19 Pits, and in a few years the annual output is anticipated to be increased from 3,000,000 tons to over 4,000,000 tons. The average annual profits of the four Colliery Companies during the six years 1907 to 1912 inclusive were stated to be £175,444.

 The report continued to state that the assets of the company came to £1,814,626 and listed the board of directors as D.A. Thomas, Chairman, T.H. Riches, J.H. Thomas, F.S. Cartwright, E.A. Mitchell Innes, P.H. Thomas and L.W. Llewelyn.

In 1908 it employed 578 men underground and 114 men on the surface with the manager being D. Bowen Jones. In 1910 it was working the Five-Feet, Middle and Upper Yard seams. In 1915 the manager was Rees Rees in 1916 the manager was D. Davies and in 1918 manpower stood at 586 men underground and 136 on the surface with the manager now being R.D. Evans, he was still the manager in 1930.

The Five-Feet seam was worked at a section of 66 inches. The Yard (Bute) seam at a thickness of 60 inches. The Red Vein (Lower-Nine-Feet) seam was also 60 inches thick. The Upper-Nine-Feet (which they called the Six-Feet) seam had a thickness of 74 inches. The Lower-Six-Feet (which was called the Four-Feet) seam had a thickness of 63 inches.

It also extensively worked the Pentre seam at a thickness of between 33 inches to 39 inches.

The Trane Pit employed 296 men in 1915/6 and 155 men in 1919 and was managed in both years by D. Davies. R.B. Davies was the manager in 1923 when Trane/Llewellyn (Britannic Merthyr) employed 538 men working underground and 114 men working at the surface of the mine. By 1935 it employed 100 men on the surface and 685 men underground producing 450,000 tons of steam coal.

In 1916 the Trane Pit had been added to the listings of the Britannic, while in that year Thomas took control of David Davis & Sons, North’s Navigation Collieries Limited, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Colliery Company, also becoming the chairman of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association. The combine now produced 7,335,000 tons of coal annually. He also had interests in railways, shipping, coal depots, insurance and Pitwood imports.

In 1923 the Britannic Merthyr Colliery Company was based at Cambrian Buildings, Bute Dock, Cardiff and produced 363,608 tons of coking, house and steam coals. The collieries listed were; Britannic which employed 918 men underground and 161 men at the surface, Dinas Main Level which employed 247 men underground and 42 men at the surface and the Trane & Llewellyn which employed 538 underground and 114 men on the surface of the mine. The illustrious list of directors was; H.S. Berry, T.J. Evans, V.D. Hailey, D.R. Llewellyn, L.W. Llewellyn, Viscountess Rhondda, G.L. Thomas and R.W. Thomas-Ferrand. In 1929 the Welsh Associated Collieries Limited was formed and under its control in 1934 Britannic Merthyr Collieries employed 500 men underground and 90 men on the surface at Britannic, 685 men underground and 100 men on the surface at Trane and Llewellyn. The manager in 1932/4 was G. Rowlands. In 1934 Welsh Associated Collieries Limited was based at Aber-dare House, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff with the directors being:

Sir David R Llewellyn, W.M. Llewellyn, H.H. Merrett, Sir John F. Beale, T.J. Callaghan and J.H. Jolly. The company secretary was T.G.W. Wade and the sales agents were Gueret Llewellyn & Merrett & Co. At that time the company controlled six collieries that employed 8,090 men who produced 2,700,000 tons of coal. Welsh Associated Collieries merged with the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company to form the Powell Duffryn Associated Collieries Limited.

On Nationalisation in 1947 Britannic was placed in the National Coal Board’s, South Western Division’s Area No.3, and employed 428 men underground working the Yard and Five-Feet seams and 86 men on the surface. The manager at that time was T. Williams who was also listed as the manager in 1954.


Some of the early fatalities at this colliery;

  • 2/2/1897, Joseph Durbyn, aged 17, hitcher, crushed by trams.
  • 8/7/1897, John James, aged 19, haulier, run over by trams.
  • 23/3/1910, David Edwards, aged 19, collier, roof fall.
  • 20/10/1910, R.L. Davies, aged 35, fireman, roof fall.
  • 28/10/1910, Samuel Price, aged 55, assistant manager, suffocated by gas.
  • 6/1/1913, William Jones, aged 49, timberman, roof fall.
  • 17/2/1913, William Davies, aged 30, haulier, run over by trams.
  • 29/12/1913, John Camborne, aged 25, shunter, run over by loco.
  • 23/6/1914, George F. Williams, aged 14, collier boy, roof fall.
  • 3/11/1924, John Coombes, aged 55, collier, roof fall.
  • 13/1/1925, William Mitchell, aged 47, labourer, roof fall.
  • 24/6/1925, Thomas F. Stowell, aged 19, haulier, a stone fell down the shaft,
  • 1/6/1929, George Dunford, aged 43, haulier, run over by trams.

Some Statistics:

  • 1901: Manpower: 528.
  • 1902: Manpower: 614.
  • 1905: Manpower: 697.
  • 1907: Manpower: 661.
  • 1908: Manpower: 692.
  • 1909: Manpower: 609.
  • 1910: Manpower: 697.
  • 1911: Manpower: 609.
  • 1912: Manpower: 822.
  • 1913: Manpower: 773.
  • 1915: Manpower: 797.
  • 1916: Manpower: 797.
  • 1918: Manpower: 722.
  • 1919: Manpower: 820.
  • 1920: Manpower: 780.
  • 1922: Manpower: 1,067.
  • 1923: Manpower: 1,079.
  • 1924: Manpower: 1,130.
  • 1926: Manpower: 1,180.
  • 1927: Manpower: 755.
  • 1928: Manpower: 801.
  • 1930: Manpower: 1,043
  • 1933: Manpower: 800.
  • 1934: Manpower: 716. Output: 450,000 tons
  • 1938: Manpower: 663.
  • 1940: Manpower: 507.
  • 1941: Manpower: 535.
  • 1942: Manpower: 576.
  • 1943: Manpower: 522.
  • 1944: Manpower: 545.
  • 1947: Manpower: 514.
  • 1948: Manpower: 490. Output:  95,000 tons.
  • 1949: Manpower: 555. Output: 142,000 tons.
  • 1950: Manpower: 519.
  • 1953: Manpower: 771. Output: 171,700 tons.
  • 1954: Manpower: 694. Output: 156,732 tons.
  • 1955: Manpower: 690. Output: 147,929 tons.
  • 1956: Manpower: 709. Output: 173,869 tons.
  • 1957: Manpower: 602. Output: 103,626 tons.


Trane Colliery

The Trane Pit was closed as a production unit in 1953 with the exhaustion of the Pentre seam which it worked from a landing at a depth of 200 yards in the shaft. Britannic Colliery was in the No.3 Area, Group No.2 in 1954, it employed 568 men underground and 129 men on the surface working the Lower-Nine-Feet, Bute and Yard seams producing coking and steam coals. In 1955 out of a total manpower of 640 men, 376 of them were employed at the coalfaces this figure had dropped to 308 men on the coalfaces by 1958.

In 1959 when compulsory retirement at 65 years was implemented there were 15 men over that age working at this pit. Generally, the coals of this colliery were classed as type 301A Prime Coking Coals. On closure it was working three seams from the Llewellyn Pit; the Nine-Feet, Red and Bute with only compressed air used to operate the coalface machinery. The colliery was closed by the National Coal Board on January 30th 1960 and the men transferred to the new Cwm/Coedely combine, going down the Coedely shafts.

On Nationalisation in 1947, Trane Colliery was placed in the National Coal Board’s, South Western Division’s, No.3 Area, No.2 Group, and at that time employed 55 men on the surface and 271 men underground working the Pentre seam. The NCB merged the Britannic and Trane Pits with the Trane shaft being used to raise the coal output. The Trane Pit was closed in November 1953.

Some of the fatalities at this Trane mine;

  • 17/4/1912, Rhys Jones, aged 44, John Stephens, aged 61, George Bond, aged 55, Henry Jones, aged 39, all sinkers, explosion.
  • 3/2/1913, Charles Owen, aged 30, labourer, wall on the surface collapsed
  • 6/7/1925, Edwin Protheroe, aged 24, collier, roof fall.
  • 9/11/1925, Henry Seymour, aged 36, collier, roof fall.
  • 1/4/1926, George Crew, aged 36, haulier, crushed by tram.
  • 19/3/1929, Henry T. Grant, aged 27, tipper, caught in machinery.

Some manpowers:

  • 1912: 241.
  • 1915/6: 296.
  • 1919: 155.
  • 1920: 340.
  • 1923: 652 with Llewellyn.
  • 1924: 1,042 with Llewellyn.
  • 1930: 652.
  • 1931: 800.
  • 1933: 825.
  • 1935: 785. Output: 450,000 tons.
  • 1937: 504.
  • 1940: 382.
  • 1941: 386.
  • 1942: 382.
  • 1944: 353.
  • 1947: 326.


This information has been provided by Ray Lawrence, from books he has written, which contain much more information, including many photographs, maps and plans. Please contact him at for availability.

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