Tonyrefail, Ely Valley (01158960)

The No.1 Pit was 6 feet in diameter and 120 feet deep while the No.2 Pit was 13 feet in diameter and 472 feet deep. During the sinking of the No.1 the Hafod was found to be 32 inches thick, the Two-Feet-Nine was 48 inches thick, the Four-Feet was eight feet 10 inches thick, the Six-Feet seam was 74 inches thick while the Jubilee was 66 inches thick. In the No.2 Pit, the Hafod seam was also 32 inches thick and at a depth of 397 feet. The original ventilation fan was a 6.25 feet diameter Schiele type. Generally, this colliery’s coals were classed as type 301A prime coking coals, suitable for furnace and foundry coke.

Although NCB records give the opening date for this colliery as 1909, this could possibly be a re-opening date, or the earlier Cilely’s’ were distinct levels, they were recorded as far back as 1843. Great Western Railway records show that this company leased a Cilely Colliery at this location in 1860, and subsequent owners were Jenkins and Davies (1865), David Davies (1873) when it was managed by J.P. Williams, Great Western Railway Company in 1877 and 1885 when it was still managed by J.P. Williams, Blindell Brothers (1896 and 1899) who employed 239 men underground and 65 men on the surface with the manager being Ockwell Hawkins, and J.S. Blindell and Company. In 1892 Cilely produced only 54,000 tons of coal.

In June 1900 the company invited tenders to sink the No.1 Pit another 180 yards from the Two-Feet-Nine seam to the Jubilee seam.

The Atlantic Merthyr Company had a private sidings agreement with the GWR in 1907 and is credited with opening Cilely in 1909 although it is shown in 1908 as employing 669 men underground and 168 men on the surface with the manager being A. J.Price. In October 1910, the workmen at Cilely Colliery made a stand against non-unionism and decided that until every workman at the pit was in a union they would not return to work. Management wouldn’t allow them to go underground to collect their tools, probably because they would work elsewhere whilst on strike. It was mid-January before they started back to work.

Locket’s Merthyr Collieries (1894) Ltd acquired the colliery in August 1911. In 1913/16 the manager was E. Lloyd, and by 1917 this new company was working the Cilely Level in the No.2 Rhondda Seam and the Cilely No.3 Pit in the steam coal seams. In 1915 the Business Statistics Company in its book on the South Wales Coal and Iron Companies stated that Locket’s Merthyr Collieries (1894) Limited was a “Company that originally owned 3 Pits, which are situated at Mardy, near Ferndale. On January, 1st, 1910 the Company took over the Atlantic Merthyr Collieries Limited, which worked the Cilely Colliery, near Llantrisant.” It gave the value of the collieries at £448,782 and listed the profits from 1910 to 1915 as 1910 £ 6,973, 1911 £17,308, 1912 £23,222, 1913 £14,592, 1914 £22,238, 1915 £ 4,587.

The board of directors consisted of; W. Ronnfeldt, Chairman, W.H. Mewton, W. Gascoyne Dalziel, H.A. Griffin, Humphry Wallis and John Cory. In 1918 W. Davies was manager and the colliery employed 536 men underground and 111 men on the surface. Cilely was still in the hands of Locket’s company in 1921 but by 1932 it was owned by Cilely Collieries Limited which was based at Exchange Buildings, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff. The directors of the company were; W.H.D. Mewton, W. Evans, John Kane and J.D. Mewton. Cilely was its only mine. At that time the pit employed 850 men and the level employed 20 men with the manager still being William Davies. In 1935 the pit employed 92 men at the surface and 490 men working underground in the New, Red, Middle-Five-Feet and Jubilee seams. The manager was David Davies. D.T. Evans was the manager in 1938 when it employed 474 men underground and 92 men working at the surface of the mine. In 1943 H. Nicholas was the manager and this colliery employed 392 men underground working the Four-Feet, Red and Jubilee seams and 98 men working at the surface of the mine.

Cilely Colliery came under the control of the National Coal Board on Nationalisation in 1947 and was placed in the South Western Division’s, No.3 (Rhondda) Area which was based at Treorchy. The manager was H. Nicholas he was still there in 1949. Cilely Colliery was closed on the 13th of October 1950 due to “exhaustion of economically workable seams” despite a week-long strike by the NUM members at the pit which failed to gain the support of other miners and that 64 men decided to stay down the pit in protest over its closure. They were down there for 50 hours.

Some of those that died at this pit;

  • 16/01/1877, William Davies, Age: 17: Collier: Killed by fall of coal.
  • 29/03/1877, J. Palmer, Age: 57: Collier: Killed by fall of stone.
  • 2/04/1880, David Williams, Age: 19: Stoker: Bursting of a naphtha lamp in the engine house.
  • 30/07/1883, James Lewis, Age: 38: Timberman: Fall of the roof.
  • 6/12/1883, T. Williams, Age: 30: Hitcher: Explosion of gunpowder.
  • 6/08/1885, Thomas James, Age: 51: Fitter: Lifting Jack slipped killing him.
  • 6/05/1896, J. Williams, Age: 22: Haulier: Run over by tram the gun on which he was riding having become detached causing him to fall in front of the tram.
  • 9/10/1896, David Williams, Age: 65: Siding man: Crushed between a full waggon and wall on sidings.
  • 1/03/1898, William Morgan, Age: 45: Collier: Fall of the roof at face
  • 2/05/1899, Thomas Jones, Age: 21: Collier: Fall of the roof at face
  • 9/06/1910, Evan Morris, Age: 58: Sinker: Deceased was working on a walling stage 87 yards from the bottom of the shaft, and while filling bricks into a rectangular cradle suspended on winding rope he slipped on the wet planks and fell through a hole in the staging on which the cradle rested.
  • 18/06/1914, James Greening, Age: 32: Rider: He was overpowered when attempting to take a loaded tram down an incline and crushed between it and a tram standing 35 yards below. There appears to have been some misunderstanding as to attaching a rope at the rear of the loaded tram.
  • 2/08/1910, Thomas Thomas, Age: 36: Carpenter: Struck by a plank, 6 feet by 11 inches by 3 inches, which fell down the shaft from the surface while he was attending the bottom signal. It was a new shaft and cages were being put in and while some planks were being removed at the pit top one of them accidentally fell down the shaft.
  • 16/10/1913, Arthur Williams, Age: 19: Rider: He probably fell off a journey of full trams, and was run over, as they were being hauled up an incline by a small crab engine.
  • 23/02/1927, Samuel Humphries, Age: 56: Collier: Fall of the roof.

Some Statistics:

  • 1899: Manpower: 506.
  • 1900: Manpower: 718.
  • 1901: Manpower: 769.
  • 1902: Manpower: 825.
  • 1905: Manpower: 773.
  • 1907: Manpower: 772.
  • 1908: Manpower: 837.
  • 1909: Manpower: 837.
  • 1911: Manpower: 827.
  • 1912: Manpower: 614.
  • 1913: Manpower: 584.
  • 1915: Manpower: 584 (levels: 81)
  • 1916: Manpower: 584 (levels: 81)
  • 1918: Manpower: 647.
  • 1919: Manpower: 584 (levels: 81)
  • 1920: Manpower: 645.
  • 1922: Manpower: 850. level: 20
  • 1923: Manpower: 713.
  • 1924: Manpower: 725.
  • 1926: Manpower: 870.
  • 1927: Manpower: 798 (levels: 20)
  • 1928: Manpower: 869.
  • 1929: Manpower: 870.
  • 1930: Manpower: 860.
  • 1931: Manpower: 900.
  • 1932: Manpower: 870.
  • 1933: Manpower: 650.
  • 1935: Manpower: 582. Output: 220,000 tons.
  • 1938: Manpower: 566.
  • 1940: Manpower: 720. Output: 220,000 tons.
  • 1941: Manpower: 456. Output: 95,000 tons.
  • 1942: Manpower: 551.
  • 1944: Manpower: 514.
  • 1945: Manpower: 490.
  • 1947: Manpower: 569.
  • 1948: Manpower: 570. Output: 95,000 tons.
  • 1949: Manpower: 600. Output: 154,000 tons.
  • 1950: Manpower: 521.


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

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