Park and Dare Colliery Investigation

This investigation was carried out as a result of proposals by the NCB to reorganise and contract the workings of the mine with a resultant redundancy of some 350 men. These men were to become available for work at Nantgarw Colliery.

Park Colliery is divided into three parts based broadly upon three of the shafts.

Coal winding is in the Nos. 1 and 2 shafts, and the coal from the No.3 shaft area is taken via a cross measure drift to be raised in the No.2 shaft. At present both Nos.1 and 2 shafts wind coal on two shifts.

The Board’s proposals are that fewer faces are to work in each pit and that two coaling shifts remain in the No.2 shaft, but only single shift winding in No.1 shaft No.1 Pit. At the time that the proposals were presented, five faces were working in No.1 Pit as follows:

  • R1 in the Red Vein Seam.
  • 26N in the Two-Feet-Nine Seam
  • 30W in the Two-Feet-Nine Seam
  • 60T in the Six-Feet Seam.
  • 64T in the Six-Feet Seam.

The proposals of the NCB included the stopping of 60T, 64T, 30W and 26N faces and to open a new face in the Two-Feet-Nine Seam (27N) and a new face in the Nine-Feet Seam (91). In addition, production was to increase in the Red Vein seam.

The 60T and 64T have already been stopped. These were in the Six-Feet Seam which has been practically exhausted throughout the take. The two faces were extracting a narrow pillar of coal to the south-east of the No.1 shaft, which was limited in size and curtailed by geological conditions.

The faces were stopped on account of deteriorating conditions. 64T had been a training face, but it was not considered desirable to maintain a separate haulage system for the sake of one training face. A new training face is to be established in the Lower Nine Feet Seam in No.3 Pit. The face, to be known as N6, will be set off to the right of N2. All the 64T training personnel will be absorbed in this new face. The closing of the 60T and 64T was inevitable on account of geological conditions and near exhaustion apart from any planned contraction of the mine.

The Red Vein For practical purposes, the Red Vein is virgin throughout the whole take. The exposed section of coal varies from 2 feet 6 inches to 3 feet 2 inches.

A panel has been set out to the north from the main in the Lower-Six-Feet Seam.

The face is in the vicinity of the shaft pillar of the No.5 upcast pit, known as the Mountain Pit, and is some 1,000 yards from the No.1 shaft in which the coal is raised. This panel, known as R1 will form the basis of a considerable development subject to tenable conditions being realised. The expectation should be reasonably good, because both the Two-Feet-Nine and the Six-Feet Seams, the latter only 30 feet above, have been extensively worked in the same area.

The R1 Face On the 20th of April 1959, the R1 Panel, which comprises of a double unit face, was 90 yards long on the left side and 30 yards long on the right. The left face was 15 yards in advance of the right face. The right-hand face will progressively lengthen until it is also 90 yards long. A daily cycle was operating on the right-hand face and a two-day cycle on the left, which would shortly correct the alignment of the two faces.

The right-hand face was supported on wood and the left on a mixture of wood and steel. Roof control is by caving the whole of the waste roof to roadside packs, whilst the waste edge is strengthened by chocks of either steel or wood.

On the right-hand face, normal conditions prevailed, with a strong floor and good roof and the standard of the support was good.

Conditions on the left face were less favourable due to geological disturbances. The major disturbance was a five-foot overlap accompanied by 4 to 5 yards of barren ground at a position some 20 yards from the gate road. Due to the disturbances, the roof along much of this face was weak and very friable. Support was particularly poor at parts.

There were complaints of frequent stoppages of the face conveyor. It is essential that this face achieves a 24-hour cycle to give a satisfactory economic yield. The indications are favourable in that development commenced in a known disturbance and the better conditions of the right-hand face are spreading.

Haulage arrangements should be adequate and continuous loading facilities are available. The outcome of this development is important to the future of Park, and there appears no reason why production greatly in excess of the 100 tons gross proposed should not be achieved.

The Two-Feet-Nine Seam

The 26N Panel is taking out a narrow pillar of coal which was left adjacent to the north main. The remainder of the pillar to be worked is about 160 yards long. In spite of the narrow pillar being set in an area of extensive old workings, conditions are surprisingly good and results appear to justify the continuation of the panel to its ultimate exhaustion, although scheduled in the NCB’s proposals to close.

The 26N Face was inspected on the 22nd of April 1959. The face was 60 yards long with an overall section of approximately 4 feet of coal. Roof control was by completely caving the waste roof between roadside packs. The waste edge was strengthened by steel chocks supplemented in part by wood. Coal preparation was by pulsed infusion firing. The output is delivered by trunk conveyors to a loading point on the North Main.

The 27N Development The 27N Panel is being opened up off the main, some 400 yards from the No.1 Pit shaft, to in the only remaining development area in the Two-Feet-Nine Seam. The area lies to the north and slightly to the east of the Nos. 1 and 2 shafts.

Development commenced with two drivages, one to the right and one, nearby, to the left off the main inbye of the Six-Feet to Two-Feet-Nine cross measures. The road on the left was turned back towards the shaft and then to the left over the cross-measure drift so as ultimately to form a natural air bridge. A large fall existed at the point of intersection and the presence of the cavity has occasioned a change of plan which will utilise the cavity as a staple shaft for loading onto the drift.

A face about 60 yards long had been formed in the seam extending from the left-hand road to the cavity. The right-hand road of the panel had also reached the other side of the cavity and the work of bridging the cavity, preparing for, and installing the spiral chute remained to be done before full production could commence.

The 27N face is set off in a southeast direction back towards the shafts. When the right-hand road has advanced some 150 yards it will encounter a large upthrow fault which will terminate the face, but the two roads will continue through the fault until a point about 300 yards from the staple pit has been reached. Then they will turn left into the main area for development, running parallel to the fault. The expectation from the area is particularly good, there being some 835,000 tons of coal to be recovered.

When 27N reaches the fault a period of non-production will follow whilst the fault is being penetrated, it may be possible to take a face to the left between the fault and the old workings to bridge this gap in production.

A gross output of 80 tons is scheduled, the amount being limited due to the necessity for carrying short faces until a point is reached about 550 yards from the chute when the face can be extended and the first flank face developed. Once this state of development has been reached, a substantial source of output which could last some 10 years will be available in close proximity to the shafts.

Once a loading point has been established on the cross-measure drift, access by rope haulage to the 30W District inbye will cease and therefore both districts cannot be worked at the same time.

The 30 West District Working in the Two-Feet-Nine Seam to the west has terminated on a line of faulting more or less parallel to the Glyncorrwg Fault Boundary. Two abortive attempts have been made to extend further west. The 30 West panel is skirting this fault on the left-hand side. It follows therefore that further panels to the west will not be possible. The face is advancing northwards towards the No.2 Area boundary. Previous faces have not reached that boundary due to thickening clod which renders the work untenable.

The left-hand supply road is about 250 yards from the point where the thick clod encroaches and about 500 yards from the Area boundary.

It follows, therefore, that the 30W face is essentially the only one that can be worked in the area and that apart from other considerations its productive life is limited.

The condition of the face at the time of the inspection was reasonably good and the haulage plane, which is over 2 miles long, was in satisfactory condition. Service roads were in fair condition.

The haulage system made up of seven stages. for one face precludes satisfactory results from being obtained in this district, and little can be done to alleviate the position, particularly in view of the limited possible life of the panel. There is no basis on grounds of economy or expectation to continue working this face.

The Nine-Feet Seam

The Nine-Feet Seam has been worked only in the eastern part of the take because the two shafts at Park are not at suitable horizons to exploit the lower seams over the main area of the take. The No.1 shaft is only down to the horizon of the Six-Feet Seam, and the No.2 Shaft is down to the Gellideg Seam, with a result that the Nine-Feet workings have been confined to that area in the eastern part of the take adjacent to the Dare Colliery.

It is proposed to develop the seam immediately to the southeast of No.1 Pit. When the development was inspected on the 20th of April 1959, it comprised two main drivages in the form of cross measures from the Six-Feet to Nine-Feet horizons.

From the extremity of the No.1 (right-hand) drivage, a proving road had been driven to the left. The No.1 Drivage was 207 yards long and supported throughout on 14 feet arches. The No.2 Drivage which was to become the main return, was 95 yards long, and supported on 12 foot arches. The No.2 Drivage was still in hard ground. Both drivages dip at 1 in 4.

In the No.1 Drivage the seam was first exposed at a distance of 130 yards, but due to the presence of a very friable roof it was continued narrow for another 20 yards before a face drivage to the left was set off. This left-hand drivage was advanced three yards in coal when a washout was encountered which consisted of soft rashings. This rashing pinched out after 35 yards at which point the drivage was abandoned.

The No.1 Drivage was then advanced 20 yards and a second left-hand drivage set off. On this drivage, the scam remained for 16 yards before the washout was encountered. The heading was then advanced to its present position and a third offset to the left commenced, which at the time of inspection had advanced 17 yards in coal and was still continuing.

The seam section in No.1 Heading consisted of 40 inches of top coal and 30 inches of bottom coal separated by 10 inches of bast. The roof is weak, the 30 inches immediately above the seam being very friable. The floor appears to be strong.

The general condition of both drivages is very good. The future of development in the area is indeterminate. The Nine-Feet Seam is erratic and it appears that the panels projected to the left of the “91” are unlikely to materialise. The panels projected to the right may well be realised as will the “91” face, if the washout continues to follow the line indicated by the drivages from No.1 heading, although its commencement as a producing unit may be somewhat delayed. No.2 Pit When the proposals were presented, six faces were working in the No.2 pit as follows:

  • G1 in the Gellideg Seam.
  • 53S (South) in the Five-Feet Seam
  • 55S in the Five-Feet Seam.
  • 510 in the Five-Feet Seam.
  • 56L in the Five-Feet Seam.
  • 59G in the Five-Feet Seam.

The plan was to replace the 55S face with the 515 Face; to replace the 59G face with the 512 face, and to stop the 56L face. Developments in the Gellideg Seam in the G1 and Lyons areas are contemplated.

The G1 Face: The 01 Face in the Gellideg Seam is the nucleus of a substantial development scheme. The panel is advancing to the south between No.5 and No.2 pits skirting the shaft pillar of the No.5 pit. The scam is about three feet thick and set in good ground with a sandstone roof and a hard fireclay floor. The immediate development scheme is to establish a face, G3 to the right to skirt the northern edge of the shaft pillar, with a view ultimately of developing the western part of the take. This will be followed by 02 set off to the left towards a washout in the seam which exists in the area south of No.2 Pit. Here the prospects are good and the area for development very substantial.

55S Face: The 55S Face in the Five-Feet Seam is extending towards the southern boundary developing work on both flanks. There is some faulting on the face, but its continuation is essential to the development of the southern part of the take. It had been intended to stop the 55S Face and continue the 53S Face, but 53S Face has since stopped on account of deteriorating conditions. There is at present a place for the development of six flank panels from the 55S development.

510 Face: The 510 Face is advancing to the south from a position beyond the shaft pillar of the Nos. 1 and 2 Pits on the west side. The panel is set between two faults and although it is favourably placed for haulage the conditions at the face are extremely poor. The panel is not scheduled to close under the proposals submitted by the NCB, but that it will do so at a time not far distant is almost inevitable.

This will not interfere unduly with future manpower deployment due to the ample facilities for the development of alternative face room that is available.

A scheme of boreholes from 53S and 55S service roads is being undertaken to establish the limits of the washout on the eastern part of the take in the Gellideg Seam. If the boreholes prove satisfactory a scheme of development in the Gellideg in the area to the southwest of the shafts may be embarked upon.

56L (Lyons Face): The 56L Face, which was scheduled to stop in the proposals has since been stopped. The Lyons area is to the northeast of the pits and is set between faulting which gives the area a triangular shape. The area has not been completely exhausted, but work stopped due to deterioration of conditions. There is no expectation of successful work in the Five-Feet Seam in the area that remains. The main haulage system to the north which served the Lyons District, was set out originally in the Gellideg Scam, but a large downthrow fault was encountered which brought the Five-Feet Seam down to the Gellideg Horizon. From that point the Five- Feet Seam was worked. Development drifts are now being driven from the point where the fault was encountered down to the Gellideg to develop the seam in the Lyons area. This will enable eight panels to be projected utilising available haulage facilities. 59G Face: The 590 Face which advanced in a northerly direction from a point to the west of the shaft, has advanced to within 40 yards of the boundary and 90 yards of the old workings beyond. This face would therefore have to stop irrespective of any scheme for concentration.

A double unit panel to be known as “512” is to be developed to the 56 left from the 59G at a point some 900 yards back from the face of 59G. This position has been fixed to avoid the disturbed ground outbye.

The No.3 Pit: The No.3 Pit, known locally as the South Pit, works faces in the Lower-Nine-Feet Seam, known locally as the Bute and Phils Seam, which is the Upper-Seven-Feet Seam. The faces working are:

  • N2 in the Bute Seam.
  • N4 in the Bute Seam
  • “70” in the Phils Seam

The proposals are that Phils Seam should stop and a short N6 face to the right of N2 to be developed as a training face. The two panels N2 and N4 are advancing to the east of the Dare pit towards the shaft pillar of the old Maindy pits. The seam section is about 3 feet thick and has not been worked in the main part of the take due to the inaccessibility of the horizon.

“70” Face, Phils Seam: The panel consists of a double unit set off approximately mid-way between Park and Dare shafts. The immediate roof over the seam is of hard fireclay and the floor is mainly of soft shale. The left face is 104 yards long. The seam thickness vanes but has an average of 40 inches of coal. The intermediate stone band varies between 3 inches and 14 inches, but normally the limits are 5 inches to 12 inches with an average of 7 inches. The right face is 80 yards long. The coal section again averages 40 inches with an average thickness of stone of 17 inches.

The standard of face support and packing is quite good. It was proposed to stop this face because of uneconomic working, and that its extension would pass over the South Main. Conditions, however, have substantially improved on the face and, apart from the Gellideg is now the best productive seam in the colliery. The workmen are being taken from this face to substitute absentees on other faces. This face should not stop but be manned for a regular 24 hour cycle. The NCB’s Proposals for No.1 Pit: The NCB proposes to increase the manpower in the Red Vein from 53 to 68 for a gross output of 100 tons. This takes care of the initial development in the seam, but the R2 panel to the west which will skirt the north edge of the No.5 shaft pillar will be the major development panel, and once this face has been established there is no reason why twice the projected output with a corresponding increase in manpower could not be realised.

In the new Nine-Feet, the 91 Face when in production will require 113 men instead of the 34 working on the development of the area.

The indications are that a workable face will be realised as the washout area is left behind. This face again will form the basis of a scheme of development in close proximity to the shaft and ultimately further faces will become available and an extension of output and a greater effective manpower deployment will be possible. The 60T Face has already been stopped and apart from those retained for dismantling the manpower (38 men) has been dispersed. The 64T Face has also been stopped and, being a training face, the manpower has been assigned to the new N6 training face. the 26N Face is scheduled to stop but the 80 persons involved in working the face need not become available until the panel is completely exhausted, because the results at present are satisfactory.

The new 27N is to take 80 men, but this requirement will increase when development is underway. This appears likely to be a successful scheme, but will not expand beyond the proposed production for about 12 months. An interim face may be possible on the lower side of the fault to take care of the 26N men until the new scheme based on 27N extends. The 30W Face is scheduled to close and no reasonable opposition can be raised on economic or technical grounds. Its closure some year hence would have been inevitable. This face is a considerable hindrance economically and employs some 149 men. Many men are used to operating the long and tortuous haulage system, which is undoubtedly one of the factors militating against success.

The total number of men in the No.1 Pit is 507, which the NCB proposes to reduce to 340 and at the same time to increase the gross output to 420 tons, instead of the present 400 tons. Thirty-eight of these men are already dispersed and the 26N complement of 65 which were to become redundant should be retained. This then entails a balance of 64 persons ultimately redundant when the 30W stops.

The matters to be considered are:

  1. The natural wastage of manpower.
  2. The ultimate manpower need and
  3. The effect of transfer of manpower to a distant colliery.

During the year 1959, and up to the 20th May, 88 men have left the colliery for the following reasons:

  • Left the industry: 24.
  • H.M. Forces: 10.
  • Ill health: 8.
  • Deaths: 7.
  • Long term sickness: 17.
  • Retired: 19
  • Notices: 3.

It can therefore be reasonably anticipated that in 5 months hence, yet another 88 men may have left the colliery.

Next to be considered is the ultimate manpower need. The figures proposed by the NCB included requirements to pilot three development schemes viz., Red Vein and Nine-Feet. All three are being developed to enlarge and will consequently require more men than is at present proposed. The schemes will undoubtedly improve the ratio of producers to non-producers and will, as a consequence, enhance the economic expectation from the mine, but to realise this advantage to the full, more men than are now proposed for these developments will be ultimately required.

It appears that No.1 Pit at Park presents a prospect for successful development equal at least to that at Nantgarw, and great care should be taken to avoid creating a position in which a year hence Park will be short of needed manpower.

No.2 Pit: In this pit Lyons 56L, which releases some 100 men, has already stopped. 59G is to be replaced by 511 and no manpower change is envisaged. The face length is doubled and the expected productivity is 63.7 cwt’s gross OMS, instead of the present 40 cwts.

The 53S Face has stopped and here again, some 65 men have been released instead of the 84 men had 55S been stopped as originally proposed. The proposal for the pit reduces manpower from 727 to 651, a drop of 76, although in fact more men have already been released b stopping 53S and 56L. Ultimately the 510 may have to stop although it is not contained in the NCB’s proposal. Manpower will be required for the development of the Gellideg seam in the Lyons area and for the extensive de projected from G1. In the No.2 Pit, the development prospects are good and the pit can easily utilise its existing manpower and should shortly be able to justify its retention when the G1 and Lyons Gellideg schemes are underway.

The No.3 Pit This scheme is based upon the stopping of the Phils District, but conditions as revealed at the time of the inspection did not justify its closure but rather indicated the need for manning for a 24-hour cycle.

Conclusions: The availability of reserves at Park and Dare and the presence of development schemes, some in an advanced state of preparation, does not appear to justify the contraction of workings but rather to reorganise and develop in a more concentrated manner. If this was done, the men available at the mine, less normal wastage, will be necessary. The desirable closure of 30W may involve a temporary excess of available labour but steps should be taken to contain the labour against obvious future needs, rather than to make it available to a mine where the prospect of successful development appears more obscure than it does at Park. At the same time, a considerable loss of manpower would be inevitable in such a transfer.

The scheme as proposed by the NCB cuts back manpower to the maximum extent and were such a state reached, the schemes already projected would not fully mature due to lack of manpower.

There is undoubtedly a case for limited reorganisation, but the development prospects, the normal wastage, and the likely returns consequent of the re-deployment of the men at another colliery are all factors justifying the retention of existing manpower.

Signed: L.R. James & T. Llewellyn

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