Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, Amman Valley

The first pit to be sunk in the Gwaun-cae-Gurwen complex was by Charles Morgan in 1837, it became known as the Old Pit. In 1874 a group of Yorkshiremen purchased this pit and formed the Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Colliery Company Limited. They continued to sink the Maerdy Pit in 1886, the East Pit in 1910, and the Steer Pit in 1924.

By 1913 the sinking of the East Pit had not been completed with 41 men still employed on this work. It was finally sunk to the Peacock seam at a depth of 355 yards. In 1918 it employed 540 men underground and 116 men on the surface The Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Company was based at Gloucester Chambers, Swansea and was a member of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association. It now controlled four pits employing a total of 1,478 men. The manager in 1920/2 was T.M. Jones.

An advert for the Company at that time stated,

Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Colliery Co. Ltd. (established over Half a Century).
Anthracite Colliery Proprietors, Swansea (South Wales)
Sole Proprietors and Producers of the Celebrated G.C.G. Machine-made Cobbles and Nuts for Stoves and House Purposes
Specially Washed Nuts & Beans for Gas Producers
Red Vein Large, Red Vein Cobbles, For Horticultural Purposes and Lime burning
Quotations made for Truck Loads to any Railway Station in the United
Kingdom, or for Cargoes f.o.b. Swansea or Llanelly.

The Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Company became part of the Llewellyn and Buckland group of collieries, which in turn became absorbed into Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries Limited in 1928. In 1935 the East Pit employed 136 men on the surface and 624 men underground. The manager at that time was M. Howells. In 1945 it employed 451 men underground and 145 men on the surface with the manager being D. Reece.

Along with the Nation’s other coal mines, East Pit was Nationalised in 1947 and was placed in the National Coal Board’s, South Western Division’s, No.1 (Swansea) Area. At that time it employed 149 men on the surface and 539 men underground working the Lower, Middle and Big Vein seams. The manager was A.C. Gow. However, the No.1 Area proved too large to administer and the No.9 (Neath) Area was formed and East Pit was transferred to this Area. The old customs and practices carried out in the anthracite section of the South Wales Coalfield prior to NCB control were an impedance to the NCB’s attempts to improve production, and in 1948 they closed down the pit for a while due to these ‘restrictive practices’.

Trouble brewed up again in 1956, and on the 11th of May the NCB issued notices to all the miners working at the East and Steer Pits that they would close on the 26th of May – there had been 238 unofficial stoppages at the pits since 1947. By 1954 output per collier per week had dropped to 5 tons and the pit was losing £1.90 per ton of coal produced. In 1955 the coalface tonnage had dropped to 4 tons and the losses had increased to £3.05 per ton of coal produced. The pits were eventually re-opened but on the Coal Board’s terms.

In 1961 this colliery was still in the No.9 Neath Area’s, No.4 Group along with Cwmgorse, Ammanford, Pantyffynnon, Wernos and Abernant collieries. The total manpower for the Group was 2,838 men, while the total coal produced for that year was 485,647 tons. The Group Manager was E.G. Maggs, while the Area Manager was C. Round. East Pit was closed in October 1962.

Some Statistics:

  • 1902: Manpower: 389.
  • 1913: Manpower: 41.
  • 1920: Manpower: 715.
  • 1922: Manpower: 769.
  • 1923: Manpower: 776.
  • 1924: Manpower: 742.
  • 1927: Manpower: 733.
  • 1928: Manpower: 726.
  • 1930: Manpower: 800.
  • 1933: Manpower: 845.
  • 1934: Manpower: 760.
  • 1937: Manpower: 763.
  • 1947: Manpower: 688.
  • 1948: Manpower: 710. Output: 95,000 tons.
  • 1949: Manpower: 740.
  • 1953: Manpower: 717 Output: 150,000 tons.
  • 1954: Manpower: 642. Output: 103,997 tons.
  • 1955: Manpower: 706. Output: 88,084 tons.
  • 1956: Manpower: 643. Output: 78,918 tons.
  • 1957: Manpower: 666. Output: 81,836 tons.
  • 1958: Manpower: 632. Output: 70,264 tons.
  • 1960: Manpower: 592. Output: 104,978 tons.
  • 1961: Manpower: 398. Output: 56,286 tons.

For further details please see the Gwaun-cae-Gurwen collieries main page



Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, Amman Valley

This was an opencast site expected to extract 3.75 million tons of coal between 1988 and 2001. Currently it employs 120 men, and is now owned by Celtic Energy.


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

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