Cwmllynfell, Swansea Valley

The name of a series of anthracite mines opened way back in 1820 by Reynolds and Aubrey, and noted in 1825 when 59 men were killed in an explosion. It was also called “Clink”. In 1842/58/60/65 it was owned by James and Aubrey. The No.1 was closed in l878, the manager at that time being J. Hay, and the No.2 in 1880, following flooding. This colliery at that time was still owned by James and Aubrey. It was re-opened in April 1908 by Benjamin Thomas. In 1911/13 it was still owned by B. Thomas and Sons of Mount Pleasant, Swansea employed 125 men at the pit in 1913. The manager was now G.W. Lyddon. T. Miles was the manager in 1915.

Ownership had changed again by 1917 when it was in the hands of the Colliery Investment Trust Limited which did not join the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association. The manager in 1916/18/20 was J. Morris. In 1922 it was managed by J.P. Davies. Cwmllynfell Colliery, which was serviced by the London, Midland and Scottish Railways, Midland Swansea Vale Section, was still in the hands of the Colliery Investment Trust Limited in 1921, but in 1924 it was purchased by the Cwmllynfell Anthracite Collieries Limited and in 1930 it was part of Henderson’s Welsh Anthracite Collieries Limited which by that time was a subsidiary of the Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries Limited. In 1923 a nine feet diameter Waddle type ventilation fan was installed at this colliery. In January of 1929, the men at this pit agreed to return to work on a reduced price list after the colliery had been idle for 13 months. In 1934 Henderson’s was based at 81 Gresham Street, London and its directors were; Sir A Cope, Sir D.R. Llewellyn, T.H. Henderson, T.P. Cook,

D. Thomas, W. Peglar and W. Slark. It controlled ten collieries and employed 2,714 men. In 1925/7 the manager was J.P. Davies and in 1930 it was J. Penry Davies. In 1935 the pit employed 45 men on the surface and 170 men underground and in 1943/5 the manager was J.A. Bosher and this pit employed 323 men working underground in the Middle and Lower seams and 81 men working at the surface of the mine.

On Nationalisation in 1947, Cwmllynfell Colliery was placed in the National Coal Board’s, South Western Division’s, No.1 (Swansea) Area, and at that time employed 71 men on the surface and 289 men underground working the Middle and Lower Veins. The manager was W.H. Penry who was still there in 1949. This colliery had its own coal preparation plant.

On the 7th of June 1951, an underground fire in the Middle Vein workings stopped the colliery and nearly closed it. The pumps had to be turned off which resulted in the water reaching up to an inch short of the roof in the Z coalface. 82 fully equipped rescue men sealed the district off until the fire subsided. It was found that the fire had extended to 86 yards from the ‘face and down the supply road and was caused by shot firing. Work at the pit restarted on the 12th of June. At that time it employed 350 men producing 250 tons of coal a day.

The No.1 Swansea Area proved too cumbersome for the NCB to manage, and when it was re-organised Cwmllynfell was transferred to the No.9 (Neath) Area. In 1955 out of a total of 363 men employed at this colliery, 165 of them worked at the coalfaces. These figures had dropped to 313/142 respectively by the following year and only stabilized at 145 men at the coalfaces in the year before closure. In 1955 the winders were electrified at a cost of £40,000. In 1956 the NCB expressed concern over the standards of performance at this colliery stating that in 1954 the total amount of coal produced per week by each coalface worker was only three tons with losses running at £3.85 per ton of coal produced. In 1955 the coalface tonnage remained the same but the losses had increased to £7.37 per ton of coal produced. During those two years there had been 22 unofficial stoppages.

In January 1956 the output per manshift slumped to an all time low of 5.8 hundredweights, the worse in the United Kingdom. This was supported by the NUM with the miners agent stating that the “situation at the colliery was out of hand.” On closure on the 2nd of February 1959 the colliery employed 253 men underground and 41 men on the surface, and up to closure the General Meetings of the local National Union of Mineworkers Lodge were held in the Welsh language. The miners at this colliery approached the NCB with a view to making it a co-operative following closure but were denied. This mine abandoned the Big Vein in 1925, the Middle Vein in 1957 and the Lower Vein in 1959.

Just a few of those that died at this mine:

  • 27/06/1853, Evan Powell: Collier: Fall of roof.
  • 31/08/1854, Thomas Lodwick, Age: 50: Collier: Crushed between platform and side of the pit
  • 16/01/1859, Edward Jenkins, Age: 34: Pumpsman: Fell partway down the pumping shaft
  • 13/05/1865, Isaac Williams, Age: 19: Collier: Fell from carriage whilst assisting pit carpenter to repair shaft.
  • 16/04/1868, Jonah Jones, Age: 13: Labourer: Killed by trams on engine plane.
  • 23/11/1869, Lewis Rowlands, Age: 48: Collier: Killed by fall of coal.
  • 30/10/1872, R. Edwards, Age: 15: Collier: Killed by fall of coal.
  • 31/01/1912, John Williams, Age: 55: Fireman: He slightly injured his knee by falling on some surface rails. He died from septic poisoning and heart failure on March 23rd, 1912.
  • 23/07/1914, William Harris, Age: 34: Hitcher: He appears to have been carried up 5 or 6 yards by the ascending cage and crushed between it and the woodwork.
  • 31/08/1914, Bertie Morgan, Age: 15: Collier boy: Fall of the roof near the working place.

Some Statistics:

  • 1842: Manpower: 124.
  • 1903: Manpower: 5.
  • 1905: Manpower: 17.
  • 1907: Manpower: 35.
  • 1909: Manpower: 114.
  • 1910: Manpower: 185.
  • 1911: Manpower: 175.
  • 1912: Manpower: 91.
  • 1913:  Manpower: 125.
  • 1915: Manpower: 225.
  • 1916: Manpower: 225.
  • 1920: Manpower: 130.
  • 1922: Manpower: 180.
  • 1923: Manpower: 199.
  • 1924: Manpower: 234.
  • 1927: Manpower: 207.
  • 1928: Manpower: 31.
  • 1929: Manpower: 206.
  • 1930: Manpower: 215.
  • 1932: Manpower: 280.
  • 1933: Manpower: 403.
  • 1934: Manpower: 215.
  • 1940: Manpower: 413.
  • 1941: Manpower: 429.
  • 1942: Manpower: 412.
  • 1944: Manpower: 420.
  • 1947: Manpower: 360.
  • 1949: Manpower: 353. Output: 50,000 tons.
  • 1950: Manpower: 342.
  • 1953: Manpower: 359. Output: 54,400 tons.
  • 1954: Manpower: 316. Output: 37,403 tons.
  • 1955: Manpower: 363. Output: 27,114 tons.
  • 1956: Manpower: 313. Output: 29,945 tons.
  • 1957: Manpower: 317. Output: 37,668 tons.
  • 1958: Manpower: 313. Output: 31,703 tons.


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

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