Cwmparc, Rhondda Fawr Valley (94429562)

This colliery was located between the Dinas geological fault to the east and the Glyncorrwg geological fault to the west. It was Sunk by a consortium led by David Davies that consisted of; Thomas Webb, Morgan Joseph, John Osborne Riches, Abraham Howell and E Roberts. They negotiated the lease of the mineral rights for 8,000 acres in the Cwmparc and Ton Pentre areas and sunk the Maindy and Park pits which cost them £68,000 for the first three years of sinking/operation.

The No.1 Pit was sunk to the Red Vein seam which it found at a depth of 566 feet 8 inches. It mainly worked this seam at a thickness of 30 inches to 38 inches and the Two-Feet-Nine seam at a thickness of 48 inches. The Six-Feet seam was also worked. In the No.1 Pit, the Two-Feet-Nine seam was at a depth of 118 yards. The Four-Feet seam was at a depth of 141 yards. The Six-Feet seam was found at 176 yards. The Red Vein seam was 188 yards deep. The Upper New Seam was found at a depth of 284 yards. The Garw seam was 309 yards from the surface of the mine.

The No.2 Pit was sunk to just below the Six-Feet seam which it found at a depth of 485 feet 2 inches. It mainly worked the Gellideg and Five-Feet seams. The No.3 Pit mainly worked the Bute and Phills’ seam, which had a section of 40 inches.

The New (upcast ventilation) Pit was sunk to just below the Five-Feet seam at a depth of 1,584 feet 7 inches. In this Pit, the Two-Feet-Nine seam was found at a depth of 310 yards.

The Four-Feet seam was 338 yards deep. The Six-Feet seam was found at a depth of 366 yards. The Red Vein seam was 375 yards deep. The ‘Brunts’ seam was at a depth of 436 yards. The Three-Feet-Ten seam was at a depth of 474 yards. Phil’s seam was at a depth of 500 yards. The first coal was raised in August 1864.

The distance between the Nos. 1 and 2 Pits was 25 yards. No.1 Pit Height above O.D. 680 feet. NGR. 94429562. No.2 Pit Height above O.D. 693 feet. NGR. 94419565.

  • Lower Pentre – 16 feet 6 inches.
  • Gorllwyn – 119 feet 11 inches.
  • Two-Feet-Nine – 356 feet 7 inches.
  • Four-Feet – 424 feet 6 inches.
  • Upper Six-Feet – 466 feet 6inches.
  • Lower Six-Feet – 529 feet 6 inches.
  • Red vein – 566 feet 8 inches.

Record of the deepening from the Six-Feet seam

  • Red Vein – 47 feet 10 inches.
  • Middle Seven-Feet – 265 feet 10 inches.
  • Lower Seven-Feet – 277 feet 5 inches.
  • Five-Feet – 330 feet 1 inch.
  • Gellideg – 407 feet 1 inch.
  • Sunk to 485 feet 2 in below Six-Feet.

Originally ventilation was by a furnace at the bottom of the upcast shaft. It measured 10 feet long by 9 feet wide and was capable of producing 111,330 feet of cubic air per minute.

Brunt’s was the Yard seam, although in some parts the Bute seam was called Brunts. The Three-Feet-Ten seam was the Seven-Feet seam. The seam that was called Phils was the Lower-Seven-Feet seam. The Upper New seam was the Five-Feet seam while the seam called the Garw was actually the Five-Feet/Gellideg seam.

The coals of this colliery were generally classed as type 202 Coking Steam Coal, low volatile, weak to medium caking, with ash content in line with the rest of the Coalfield at between 5% to 9%, and with a low sulphur content of between 0.6% to 1.5%.

They were used for steam raising in the boilers of ships, locomotives, power stations, etc., and for coking purposes at foundries and blast furnaces.

In 1867 David Davies and Company was formed, and in 1887 the Ocean Coal Company Limited, with capital increased from £240,000 to £800,000 in 8,000 shares of £100 each. David Davies and his son, Edward, held nearly half of the shares. This Company was a member of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association.
On the 16th of May 1884, collier John Pugh was only fourteen years of age when he died under a fall of roof. The manager at that time was Daniel Eynon.

It was served by the Taff Vale Railway, and in 1887 Park Colliery had a sidings capacity of 300 full wagons, 385 empty wagons and 144 other wagons.

In 1896 the manager was Thomas J Williams and the colliery employed 1,075 men underground and 125 men on the surface. In 1908 the manager was E. Middleton. The Colliery Guardian reported that on the 30th of April 1909, this colliery broke its productivity record by raising 4,020 tons of coal in ten hours. It also broke its record for raising the most coal in one hour, seventy cages were wound containing four trams a wind with each tram holding 1.5 tons = 420 tons of coal.

In 1913, Park Colliery employed 1,215 men, the Ocean Coal Company advertising in that year as:

Ocean (Merthyr) Steam Coal.
Proprietors:- The Ocean Coal Co., Ltd., 11 Bute Crescent, Cardiff.
Output: 9,500 Tons per Day.
This Coal is unrivalled for Steam Navigation and Railway purposes.
It is well known in all the Markets of the world for Economy In Consumption, Purity & Durability.
It is largely and in many cases exclusively used by the Principal Steam Navigation Companies at Home and Abroad. Ocean (Merthyr) Steam Coal solely, was used by the Cunard Company Steamers Mauretania ‘ ’ and Lusitania’ in creating a Record for the Most Rapid Atlantic Passages.
The Ocean Company supply the requirements of the English Admiralty for trial trips, for the use of the Royal yachts and other special purposes.
The Ocean Coal Company, Limited, have the largest unworked area of the celebrated Four-Feet Seam of Coal in South Wales.”
In 1915 the Business Statistics Company, in its book called ‘South Wales Coal and Iron Companies’ reported that the Company was called the Ocean Coal and Wilsons Limited and that this company “was registered in March 1908, to acquire and hold all or any of the shares of the Ocean Coal Company Ltd, and Wilson, Sons & Co, Ltd, and any Company in which either of such Companies has or have any interest. The Ocean Coal Co, work 9 collieries…the normal annual output of the Collieries is about 2,500,000 tons of coal.
Wilson, Sons & Co, has Coal Depots…In addition to their regular business of Coal Merchants and Steamship agents, the Company owns engineering shops and foundries at Pernambuco, Dakar, Bahia, and Rio de Janeiro, and has executed many important engineering contracts.

The book continued to state that the assets of the combined company were £4,886,982 with profits of £301,266 available for distribution. The board of directors was: David Davies, Chairman, A.E. Bowen, William Jenkins, Edward Jones, Thomas Evans, Henry Webb, Alfred Harley, E.E.M. Hett and F.J. Yarrow.

In 1915 the men at this colliery voted to accept pithead baths. They were installed with 96 cubicles. Mr. Middleton was still manager in 1918, Herbert Davies was the manager in 1923, D. Davies was the manager in 1927 and M. Evans in 1930. On Thursday, 28th February 1929, Lord Chelmsford opened the new pithead baths, only the third to have been opened in Britain by the Miners’ Welfare Committee. There were 2,400 double-tier lockers, with each miner having two lockers, one for his clean clothes, and the other for his working clothes. Also included were; toilets, a cleaning and greasing area for boots, drinking fountains, soap and towel stores, and a first aid room.

On Nationalisation in 1947, Park Colliery was placed in the National Coal Board’s, South Western Division’s, No.3 (Rhondda) Area, Group No.4, and at that time employed 350 men working on the surface of the mine and 1,538 men working underground in the Two-Feet-Nine, Upper New, Gellideg, Phills, and New Phills seams. The colliery had its own coal preparation plant (washery) with the manager still being W.C. Carpenter.

By 1954 manpower had increased to 349 men working at the surface of the mine and 1,887 men working underground in the Two-Feet-Nine, Lower-Six-Feet, Upper-Nine-Feet, Lower-Nine-Feet, Bute, Yard, Upper-Seven-Feet, Five-Feet and Gellideg seams. The manager was now J. Campbell.

In 1954 the colliers on the coalfaces at Park Colliery produced 7.6 tons of coal each per week giving a loss of £0.17 on every ton of coal produced, by 1955 the coalface figure had dropped to 5.8 tons and losses per ton had risen to almost £1.00.

The NCB decided to merge the Colliery with its close neighbour, Dare Colliery, the Dare Pit became Park No.3 Pit and Dare’s coal was brought up the Park No.2 Pit. With Park Colliery’s formal merger with Dare Colliery in 1955, Park and Dare Colliery became the biggest colliery in the South Wales Coalfield. The NUM Lodge being the largest in the Coalfield with a total of 2,584 members, 2,162 of them working. In 1955 out of the total colliery manpower of 2,291 men, 1,194 of them were working at the coalfaces. In 1956 the coalface figure had dropped to 1,027 men, it further dropped to 964 men in 1957, while in 1958 there were 913 men working at the coalfaces at this colliery.
In 1958 the NCB announced their intention to re-organise the Park and Dare and transfer 350 men to the new Nantgarw Colliery where there was an acute shortage of manpower. The local NUM Lodge protested over this proposal and a NUM investigating team was sent into the pit. They concluded that the men should remain at the colliery, and that there was a case to increase manpower due to the number of men leaving to work in outside industries. It was noted that in the period June 1958 to June 1959, 171 men left the pit.

In 1959 this colliery was still winding coal from both the Nos. 1 and 2 Pits, both by dayshift and afternoon shift. At that time the No.1 Pit was working the Red Vein, Two-Feet-Nine and Six-Feet seams. The No.2 Pit was working the Gellideg and Five-Feet seams. The No.3 Pit was working the Bute and Phils seams.

The countdown for closure started in September 1965 when the South District of the No.2 Pit was closed and the men transferred out of the colliery. This was followed in November of that year when the NCB quoted the following figures as a reason for closing both the Park and Dare:

Year Output per Manshift Loss per Ton Losses for year
1963/64 18.1 £1.20 £389,000
1964/65 17.6 £1.71 £441,000
6 months 1965 13.1 £5.58 £330,000

On the 1st of February 1966, the Lodge Committee of the NUM informed the union at area level that the men at a general meeting had decided that they could not further oppose closure. Park Colliery was closed by the National Coal Board on the 4th of February 1966. One hundred men were retained at the pit during salvage operations, 85 men remained on the surface with the washery continuing to work. 90% of the men accepted transfer to other collieries with the majority going to Lady Windsor, Ty Mawr and Lewis Merthyr collieries.

An investigation that was carried out as a result of proposals by the NCB to reorganise and contract the workings of the mine can be found here.

On the 10th of April 1959 Charles Cadwgan, aged 22 years, Wyndham Thomas, aged 20 years, William John Davies aged 38 years and Joseph Davies aged 47 years all died under a single fall of roof.

Just some of the men who died at this pit:

  • 2/3/1874, J. Harris, aged 22, collier, roof fall.
  • 29/8/1879, David George, aged 50, collier, roof fall.
  • 3/2/1883, William Bolitho, aged 41, ostler, crushed by wagons.
  • 28/2/1883, Thomas Evans, aged 28, haulier, run over by trams.
  • 10/11/1883, E. Morgan, aged 31, hitcher, fell down shaft.
  • 25/2/1884, George Williams, aged 23, haulier, run over by trams.
  • 12/1/1887, Daniel Jones, aged 14, door boy, run over by trams.
  • 22/5/1890, Joseph Williams, aged 19, haulier, roof fall.
  • 27/10/1891, John Ashley, aged 19, haulier, crushed by trams.
  • 6/8/1892, Fred Gardner, aged 22, collier, crushed by trams.
  • 26/2/1894, David Davies, aged 21, haulier, run over by trams.
  • 4/10/1894, John Owen, aged 29, assistant rider, roof fall.
  • 22/11/1894, John Hilditch, aged 21, collier, roof fall.
  • 21/1/1896, William Lewis, aged 23, collier, roof fall.
  • 22/12/1896, William Gibby, aged 29, timberman, roof fall.
  • 2/4/1899, Gomer James, aged 22, collier, roof fall.
  • 2/6/1899, Daniel Thomas, aged 33, rider, run over by trams.
  • 6/5/1910, J.O. Daniels, aged 23, collier, roof fall.
  • 27/3/1913, Owen Williams, aged 55, collier, hit by sledge.
  • 19/1/1914, James Jones, aged 30, collier, roof fall.
  • 2/2/1914, John Howells, aged 48, collier, roof fall.

Some Statistics:

  • 1870: Manpower: 310. Output: 19,781 tons.
  • 1880: Manpower: 354. Output: 190,605 tons.
  • 1889: Output: 225,397 tons.
  • 1890: Manpower: 388. Output: 225,699 tons.
  • 1894: Output: 295,730 tons
  • 1896: Manpower: 1,072.
  • 1899: Manpower: 1,046.
  • 1900: Manpower: 1,008.
  • 1901: Manpower: 1,021.
  • 1902: Manpower: 988.
  • 1903: Manpower: 986.
  • 1905: Manpower: 1,011.
  • 1908: Manpower: 934.
  • 1909: Manpower: 944.
  • 1910: Manpower: 1,006.
  • 1911: Manpower: 978.
  • 1912: Manpower: 1,028.
  • 1913: Manpower: 1,012.
  • 1915: Manpower: 1,028.
  • 1916: Manpower: 1,028.
  • 1918: Manpower: 1,005.
  • 1919: Manpower: 1,028.
  • 1920: Manpower: 2,124 with Park.
  • 1922: Manpower: 1,024.
  • 1923: Manpower: 1,121.
  • 1924: Manpower: 1,104.
  • 1925: Manpower: 1,121.
  • 1926: Manpower: 1,121.
  • 1927: Manpower: 567.
  • 1928: Manpower: 995.
  • 1929: Manpower: 900.
  • 1931: Manpower: 990.
  • 1932: Manpower: 1,000.
  • 1933: Manpower: 720.
  • 1934: Manpower: 687.
  • 1935: Manpower. 988.
  • 1937: Manpower: 790.
  • 1938: Manpower: 710.
  • 1940: Manpower: 720.
  • 1941: Manpower: 770.
  • 1942: Manpower: 920.
  • 1943: Manpower: 1,014.
  • 1944: Manpower: 1,020.
  • 1947: Manpower: 1,109.
  • 1948: Manpower: 1,090. Output: 275,000 tons.
  • 1949: Manpower: 1,080. Output: 277,000 tons.
  • 1950: Manpower: 996.
  • 1953: Manpower: 1,788. Output: 438,500 tons.
  • 1954: Manpower: 2,236. Output: 336,000 tons.
  • 1955: Manpower: 2,291. Output: 359,048 tons
  • 1956: Manpower: 2,192. Output: 414,026 tons.
  • 1957: Manpower: 2,136. Output: 423,077 tons.
  • 1958: Manpower: 2,003. Output: 309,143 tons.
  • 1959: Manpower: 1,875. Output: 308,093 tons.
  • 1960: Manpower: 1,821. Output: 286,700 tons.
  • 1961: Manpower: 1,766. Output: 292,252 tons.
  • 1962: Manpower: 1,788. Output: 346,737 tons.
  • 1963: Manpower: 1,697. Output: 331,612 tons.
  • 1964: Manpower; 1,365. Output: 259,484 tons.


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

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