Pencoed, Bridgend (SS 9662 8488)

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The original Werntarw Drift was started in 1900 by W.W. Lewis, It looks like he didn’t have a lot of success for whatever reason and by 1904/05 it had disappeared from the lists of mines. It was owned by the Cardiff and Ogmore Collieries Limited of London in 1906, and it employed 36 men in 1907 and 42 men underground and 9 men on the surface in 1908 when managed by H.W. Thomas.

The Glamorgan Gazette on the 11th of January 1907:


This company has just been registered, with a capital of £30,000 in £1 shares. To adopt an agreement with W. M’Cowan and W.H. Williams for the acquisition of benefits of agreements for leases of mineral and mining rights at Werntarw and in the parishes of Coychurch, Coychurch Higher and elsewhere in Glamorganshire, and to carry on the business of colliery proprietors, coal merchants, coke manufacturers, miners, smelters, ironmasters, manufacturers and sellers of patent fuel etc..

The subscribers are:

  •  J.E. Lickfold, 57 Moorgate Street, EC., solicitor.
  • F.W. Sullivan, 7 Telegraph Street, EC., solicitor.
  • E. Stuart, 3 Humphrey-street, Old Trafford, Manchester, engineer.
  • J.M. Lickfold, 57 Moorgate Street, EC., solicitor.
  • V.C. Bosher, 5 Pall Mall East, SW., architect.
  • W. Hall, 26 Melbourne Grove, East Dulwich, SE., clerk.
  • H. Morgan, 19 Knighton Park, Sydenham, clerk.

No initial public issue. The number of directors is to be not less than four, nor more than seven; the first are W. M’Cowan (chairman) E.T. David, W.S. Monck, F.W. Sullivan, W.P. Thomas (managing director), and W.H. Williams; qualification 250 shares; remuneration (except managing director) £50 each per annum, (chairman £75) .

Registered by E. Lickfold and Son, 57 Moorgate-street. E.C.

In 1909 it employed 51 men and in 1911 it employed 21 men. It is not on my 1913 listings and is probably the Old Werntarw that was abandoned in that year. The next owners to try their luck were the Meiros Collieries Limited.

Following the success of their Meiros Colliery that company decided to expand their operations at a time when the demand for the coals of South Wales was at its peak. They were listed as the owners of Werntarw in 1917. It was this company that sank the Wemtarw Pits in 1918. The No.1 Pit was sunk to a depth of 730 feet 3 inches.

ln May 1917 the newspapers reported:


Collier’s narrow escape – Last week Mr. Reginald Griffiths, of Penprisk, had a narrow escape from death. While following his employment at the Werntarw Colliery, he was overcome by foul air. He was found in a helpless condition by Mr. W. White, Tymerchant, and was dragged away, and was later conveyed on a stretcher in an unconscious condition to his home, where he ultimately came to. A few minutes longer in the foul air would have terminated fatally.

In 1918 it was managed by E. McIntyre and in 1923 by J. Barrie. It was believed that Werntarw Colliery had a profitable life in front of it and in 1929 it was announced that a by-product plant was to be constructed near the colliery. However, external events caught up with the colliery and due to the lack of markets the colliery suffered badly in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In October 1931 it was restarted after four months shutdown.

On the 12th of June 1923, Frederick Parsons and William Harry died under a huge roof fall. David Harry the father of William was trapped by the legs and was forced to listen to his sons cries until he died.

On the 13th of July 1927 a plank on top of the pit worked loose and fell down the shaft killing pit bottom worker William Young and injuring Robert Savory.

The old company was relisted under Meiros Collieries (1931) Limited, but this only last for six years, and from 1937 the colliery was under the control of the South Wales Coalite Limited.

In 1935 this colliery was owned by the Meiros Collieries (1931) Limited and it employed 60 men working on the surface of the mine and 360 men underground working the No.3 Rhondda and Six-Feet seams. The manager at that time was Rees Rees. This company was based at 81/82 Exchange Buildings, Cardiff with the directors being; Rees Rees and H. G. Roberts. The company secretary and commercial manager were H.G. Williams. This was its only mine at that time. It was also in 1935 that the Hafod Drift was driven into the Hafod seam to exploit the reserves of coal in that seam. It looks like the change of ownership brought about a change of manager and in 1938 and 1945 the manager was D.E. Miles.

In March 1937, following a lengthy investigation into all types of coal, and all types of locations, it was agreed that Werntarw coals were the placed for the construction of a Coalite Plant. The seams at Werntarw were best suited for smokeless fuel, aviation petrol, diesel fuel and many others. The current level of production was 500 tons of coal a day, it was agreed to increase this figure by electrification of the colliery plant coupled with a modernisation programme. In 1940, during WWII, the coals produced at Werntarw were requisitioned by the Government and directed to steelworks for use as blast furnace coke. This meant that the Coalite Plant would have to close with the loss of 80 jobs. It was hoped that the men would be absorbed into the Werntarw workforce.

On Nationalisation of the Nation’s coal mines in January 1947, Wern Tarw Colliery was placed in the National Coal Board’s, South Western Division’s, No.2 Area, South Group, and at that time employed 171 men working on the surface and 621 men working underground in the Wern Tarw Drift, Werntarw Hafod Seam Drift, and the Wern Tarw Pit. The seams being worked were the No.3 Rhondda, Hafod, Pentre and Six-Feet seams. The manager at that time was still D.E. Mills. This colliery had its own coal preparation plant (washery).

In May/June of 1951, the NCB wanted to transfer 87 men from Wern Tarw Colliery to Llanharan Colliery and caused the most serious disruption in the Coalfield since 1947, with 15,000 men coming out on strike in sympathy with the Wern Tarw NUM Lodges’ opposition to this proposal. In 1954 the manager was still D.E. Mills and in 1955 there were 249 men working at the coalfaces of this colliery.

Such was the geological conditions in this part of the Coalfield in the 1950s, there was no colliery nearer than 12 miles to Wern Tarw westwards, and none towards its northern workings.

Way back in 1939, Trefor Bowen was under-manager of Werntarw when he met with a serious accident. It was so bad that he couldn’t go back underground and was given the job as the surface storekeeper. Not happy with this he wanted his old job back, so he underwent a series of operations, the first two were on the NHS but when he found out that there was a waiting list of a year for the third and final op (it was now 1951) he decided to go private, the problem was that he had no money. He was the storekeeper so it was fairly easy for him to steal some brass and other metals valued at £205. He sold these on to a Pontypridd scrap merchant and received £119 and a court summons when he was caught. He pleaded guilty at his trial and was fined £100 plus £50 restitution costs with two months to pay. If he did not pay he would be jailed for six months.

Ironically, with Bowen not knowing this at the time. He had been short-changed in his wages by the old owners to the sum of £1,000 and a claim was later submitted to the NCB for the payment of such, his solicitor believed that the claim would be settled.

In February 1961 the colliery consisted of the Hafod Slant which was 1,900 yards in from the outcrop of the Hafod seam and was driven down 1 in 3. In the lower extremes of this drift, it encountered difficult geology and it was stopped, with the new coalfaces to be driven off to the east and west. The pit was working the Six-Feet, Yard and Bute seams. In the Six-Feet seam, it was working the No.5 East ‘face which was 100 yards long and manned by ten colliers per shift on days and afternoons.

In the Yard seam, the Y1 had only 350 yards of life left, it was also 100 yards long with the seam being 60 inches thick. It had the same manning as the No.5 East. The Bute seam at that time was causing problems and consisted of four coal and four dirt bands in which the total thickness could be up to twelve feet. In 1960 the output per man shift had been 16.2 hundredweights and the mine was losing £0.83 pence on each ton of coal produced.

In August of 1964 heating in the Bute seam in the B1 District turned into a fire and the workings were sealed off 120 yards from pit bottom and the men were temporarily transferred to Cwm and National pits. From 8.45 pm on Thursday, the 27th of August attempts were then made to put out the fire but these failed and the district was sealed off forever at 9 pm on Saturday the 29th of August.

This colliery which produced house, manufacturing and gas coals was officially closed on the 28th of August 1964 due to heavy gas emissions and an increased fire risk.


Some Statistics:

  • 1900: Manpower: 8.
  • 1901: Manpower: 5.
  • 1918: Manpower: 152.
  • 1919: Manpower: 160.
  • 1923: Manpower: 230.
  • 1924: Manpower: 484.
  • 1927: Manpower: 294.
  • 1928: Manpower: 286.
  • 1930: Manpower: 394.
  • 1931: Manpower: 200.
  • 1932: Manpower: 450.
  • 1933: Manpower: 303.
  • 1934: Manpower: 342.
  • 1935: Manpower: 420. Output: 150,000 tons.
  • 1937: Manpower: 662.
  • 1938: Manpower: Pit: 222 underground 61 surface. Drift: 108/29.
  • 1945: Manpower: 790.
  • 1947: Manpower: 792.
  • 1948: Manpower: 770. Output: 160,000 tons.
  • 1949: Manpower: 742. Output: 160,000 tons.
  • 1950: Manpower: 734.
  • 1953: Manpower: 563. Output: 106,000 tons
  • 1954: Manpower: 725. Output: 94,000 tons.
  • 1955: Manpower: 581. Output: 90,199 tons.
  • 1956: Manpower: 573. Output: 99,064 tons.
  • 1957: Manpower: 589. Output: 100,273 tons.
  • 1958: Manpower: 557. Output: 98,126 tons.
  • 1960: Manpower: 447. Output: 82,822 tons.
  • 1961: Manpower: 421. Output: 68,461 tons.
  • 1964: Manpower: 416.

The Werntarw No.2 level (966849) worked the No.3 Rhondda seam from 1987 to 1992 when it was owned by the Werntarw Mining Company.


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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