Bargoed, Rhymney Valley (ST 1534 9978)

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This colliery consisted of two shafts to the steam coal seams and one shaft (the Brithdir pit) to the Brithdir seam to serve as the house coal pit. The pits were situated on a narrow strip of land at the bottom of the valley at Bargoed and were served by the Brecon & Merthyr and Rhymney Railways.

Sinking commenced in 1897 with the first coal being raised from the Bargoed pits in 1901. The Bargoed pits were sunk to just below the Lower-Nine-Feet seam to a depth of 636 yards and were 21 feet in diameter. The south pit was the downcast ventilation shaft and was used for winding coal, men, and materials, the winding drum was semi-spiral and ranged from 14 to 24 feet. The winding ropes were 750 yards long and attached to the semi-spiral drums so that they coil in opposite directions and the cages balance one another.

The north pit was the upcast ventilation shaft and the drum was also semi-spiral and ranged from 14 to 22 feet. The carriages were the double-decked types and could travel the pit in 50 seconds to give maximum windage of 300 tons of coal per hour.

The Brithdir pit encountered the Brithdir (Tillery, Pontygwaith, or Red Ash) seam at a depth of 193 yards. The first coal was raised in 1904 with this pit closing in 1949. The Brithdir pit was so wet that it was estimated that eight tons of water was raised for every ton of coal brought up.

An undated Powell Duffryn booklet on Bargoed Colliery described the ventilation system as “by means of a fan which exhausts about 450,000 cubic feet of air per minute, the air is drawn down the downcast shaft, through the workings, and up the upcast shaft, the top of the latter being completely enclosed in an airtight casing, in order to control the supply of air to the shaft. The men and trams of coal enter and leave this casing by means of doors opened by the ascending cage.”

The booklet continued to describe the winding system as “There are two steel cages in each shaft, and, when winding coal, full trams ascend in one cage while empties descend in the other. Each cage has two decks, each deck carrying two trams, each of which has a capacity of 30 cwts of coal. The cages are lowered and raised by a steel winding rope, which is examined every 24 hours and is fitted with safety hooks and chains. The journey of each cage is controlled by four steel guide rails, which keep the cages apart and prevent them from twisting. The journey from the pit bottom to the surface takes approximately 50 seconds and the emptying and re-loading of the cage a further 10 seconds; these speeds enable coal to be raised at about 350 tons per hour. The speed is reduced when men are being raised or lowered.”

The original underground haulage system in the South Pit consisted of two 250 h.p. haulages, one 150 h.p. haulage and three 50 h.p. haulages, while at the Brithdir pit there were one 150 h.p. haulage, two 100 h.p. haulages and three 50 h.p. haulages. As well as those there were thirteen compressed air haulages in use nearer to the coalfaces. Their drums varied from double eight-inch to double sixteen-inch drums.

At the North Pit, there were two 800 h.p. Sulzer Pumps in use to pump the excess water up the pit, while at the Brithdir shaft there were two 475 h.p. Sulzer Pumps, one 330 h.p. Worthington Pump and one 150 h.p. Mather & Platt pump.

To utilize the small coal a washery was erected in 1905 by the Coppee Company. The small coal was brought in by belt conveyors from both steam and Brithdir pits to the washery where it was separated into five sizes, the three larger of which were sold as nuts, beans and peas, the two finer sizes are sent by aerial ropeway to concrete bunkers at the coke ovens, having a capacity of 1,200 tons. They found that the best mixture was three of the steam coal to one of the Brithdir (bituminous). The concrete bunkers fed the coke ovens of which there were 150, consisting of 100 of Kopper’s type and 50 Simplex. To make full use of the gases drawn out a By-Product plant was installed with tar abstracted after going through cooling towers. The sulphur in the gas is extracted by oxide of iron and is made to produce sulphuric acid, which is also used in the sulphate of ammonia process, and the purification performs the necessary function of freeing the gas from any dust. The gas is then used in large gas engines for the generation of electricity and any surplus is burned under the boilers to assist in the production of steam power required by the winding, pumping and other steam engines about the colliery. The consumption tests of those engines showed that on full load a kilowatt-hour required 31 cubic feet of gas. There was also the Tar Distillation Plant where the tar was pumped up and creosote oil extracted, the residue running into what was known as pitch beds.

As with the rest of the pits in South Wales the fatalities soon started at Bargoed, and in the last four months of 1902 George Coleman a collier was killed under a fall of roof on the 12th of August, seventeen days later James Alfred Parfitt an engine driver slipped and fell into the sump at pit bottom where he drowned, and on the Third of December 1902 both Thomas Charles Price aged 21 years and John Thomas aged 20 years, and colliers, died under the same fall of roof.

On the 23rd of April 1909, the Bargoed Colliery succeeded in making a world production record when 4,020 tons of coal was wound in a single day. In 1908 the manager was L. Watkins, in 1913/16 it was F. Wilcox and in 1915/19 it was Thomas Griffiths, in 1923 it was J.N.R. Kirkwood with T.B. Fisher the manager of the Brithdir Pit, in 1927 the manager was J. Tait and in 1930 it was S.G. Bassett.

After the First World War was over, reparations in the form of German coal cancelled out some markets, other markets were seduced by cheap coal from countries desperate to rebuild their economies. The South Wales Coalfield as the premier coal exporting area in the UK was hit particularly hard. The owner’s attempts to reduce costs and wages resulted in numerous industrial disputes particularly the big strikes and lock-outs of 1921 and 1926, this was then followed by the worldwide recessions of the early 1930s and the South Wales coal industry began its long decline.

In March 1929 the colliery resumed full production after more than a year’s stoppage due to the company developing the lower seams from the North Pit.

In 1935, 1,050 men were employed underground and 170 men on the surface at Bargoed, while at the Brithdir pit 500 men worked underground and 70 men on the surface, production then stood at 400,000 tons for Bargoed and 280,000 tons for the Brithdir. The manager at that time was G.D. Corfield. The manager in 1938/1945 was D. Williams.

In 1943 the North and South Pits employed 838 men working underground in the Yard, Seven-Feet and Upper Four-Feet seams and 308 men working at the surface of the mine. The Brithdir Pit employed 295 men underground and 71 men on the surface of the mine.

Bargoed Colliery was one of the most profitable of Powell Duffryn’s collieries and provided much of the finance that enabled PD to expand to its position in 1945 owning 59 pits employing 34,740 men and producing 14,671,000 tons of coal.

In 1947 the Nation’s coal mines were Nationalised and came under the control of the National Coal Board, suitable compensation was agreed for the private owners, and out of the grand total of £164,660,000 awarded for the whole of the mining industry of Great Britain, Powell Duffryn received £16,000,000 compensation for assets which had a book value of £12,600,000. £11,800,000 was returned to the shareholders.

On Nationalisation in 1947 Bargoed Colliery was placed in the South Western Division’s No.5 Rhymney Area, Group No.2, the pit by then had become a central base for PD’s operations and included a large power station with 120 miles of power lines feeding other pits, and 86 coke ovens, a training centre, coal preparation plant, central stores, central workshops and coalface props repair centre. The pit was working the Yard, Seven-Feet, Upper-Four-Feet, Lower-Four-Feet and Red Veins, and by 1954 employed 927 men underground and 282 on the surface and was managed by E. Jones. It was linked to both Britannia, Elliot and Groesfaen collieries.

In 1949 the NCB announced that the pit had 34.5 million tons of coal reserves – enough to last 78 to 80 years of work. The pit was then working the Yard seam at a thickness of 32 inches, the Red Vein at 30 inches, the Seven-Feet seam at 36 inches and the Upper-Four-Feet at a thickness of 36 inches and employed 1,388 men. The system of working at that time was for the dayshift colliers to fill the coal onto coalface conveyors, the afternoon shift would move the conveyors forward on the coalface while the nightshift would undercut the coal ready for the dayshift to fill. Each collier was filling ten tons of coal per shift but once the coal was cleaned this figure dropped to 6.4 tons. The output per man shift overall for the colliery was 1.1 tons saleable with five days production averaging 8,500 tons. The men worked every other Saturday. The old coke ovens were being demolished and pit head baths built on the site. The manager at that time was J. Campbell. For the week ending the 19th of December 1953 Bargoed Colliery produced its record output of coal for a week; 11,004 tons.

In 1955 out of a total manpower at the pit of 1,100 men, 581 of them worked at the coalfaces. 559 worked at the coalfaces in 1956, 579 men in 1957, and 566 men worked at the coalfaces in 1958.

In 1961 out of a total of 792 men working at the colliery 299 of them were working at the coalfaces. In that year the colliery was in the No.5 Rhymney Area’s, No.3 Group along with Penallta and Britannia collieries. Total manpower for the Group was 3,337 men, while total coal production for the year was 831,951 tons. The Group Manager at that time was J. Williams, while the Area Manager was G. Tomkins. In 1968 the main market for Bargoed’s coal was steelworks in the midlands of England.

In 1969 the manager was B. Elliot and this colliery was working the Seven-Feet and Lower Four-feet seams. Mr. Elliot remained as manager until 1971 when he was relieved by J.S. Walters who stayed there until closure.

The Brithdir Pit was closed on the 26th of November 1949, and Bargoed Colliery was closed on the 4th of June 1977 both were closed on uneconomic grounds, with the shafts being filled from the 27th of July 1981. It took 89,500 tonnes of various materials to fill them.


Some of those that died in this colliery:

  • 30/06/1899, Tyrer James, Age: 43, Foreman: When ascending the sinking pit in a tram slung by chains the tram struck a byatt and he was tipped out. He fell a distance of 130 yards.
  • 10/09/1899, James Cleary, age: 30, Banksman: When passing in front of the engine house he was struck by a beam of timber which had been released in consequence of the lash of the end of the rope which broke on leaving the drum the engine having run wild while water-winding owing to the breakage of one of the eccentric straps.
  • 02/07/1910, W.J. Jones, age: 24, Rider: Fall of the roof in double parting while he was spragging trams.
  • 28/07/1910, R.S. Talbot, age: 27, Collier: Fall of the roof at the working face. 07/09/1910, Fred Hayes, age: 25, Collier: Strained himself while lifting a lump of coal into the tram. Died 23rd.
  • 08/09/1910, Albert Lewis, age: 16, Collier boy: Fall of the roof at the working face. The deceased knocked a prop out which he should not have been allowed to do.
  • 14/02/1911, Andrew Davies, age: 28, Collier: Fall of the roof at the working face. 11/05/1912, Richard. E Evans, age: 17, Repairer: Fall of side on return airway. Whilst carrying out repairs he was killed by a fall of side 17 feet long by 3 feet wide.
  • 08/10/1912, Patrick Purcell, age: 22, Asst. timberman: He was caught and run over by a tram he was filling with dust, on a heading, as he attempted to lower it down the inclined road.
  • 09/01/1913, George Meredith, age: 27, Labourer: Fell off the new landing to the pit bottom.
  • 28/04/1913, Ernest Robinson, age: 27, Collier: Fall of the roof at the working face.
  • 10/01/1914, William Robinson, age: 58, Screenman: While walking along the siding to the coal washery, where he was employed, he as knocked down by a locomotive engine and received fatal injuries
  • 17/07/1913, Henry Shepard, age: 49, Labourer: As he was lowering an empty wagon down a siding he fell down and was crushed between a wooden “scotch” and the axle guard of the wagon.
  • 10/10/1913, George Stevens, age: 39, Night overman: He was crushed between a full journey and a door frame as he was opening the door for the trams to pass through. He died from his injuries on October 14th, 1913 09/01/1914, John Hawkes, age: 32, Haulier: Fall of roof while he was staking his horse and tram up a heading road. The tram left the rails and disturbed the timbering at the spot where the fall occurred. 15/08/1914, Peter Watson, age: 34, 2nd. banksman: As he was sending down a cage load of men from the bottom surface deck, he fell forward as the cage descended and was caught between the top band of the cage and the surface collar board.
  • 08/09/1914, Isaac Williams, age: 22, Collier: Fall of the roof in working place.
  • 31/8/1925, George Long, aged 55 years, rider. Full journey jumped the road and jammed his head on the side. The colliers would fill the coal into trams, a haulier would then take the tram to a point just outside the coalface. There the rider would connect up about 26 trams and make a ‘journey’. He would then pull on a wire which would ring a bell in the engine house near the bottom of the pit. A mechanical haulage engine would then pull the journey towards the pit bottom. The rider would accompany the journey and try and prevent any derailments, in those days he would ride on the front tram of coal, hence rider, later this was made illegal and he had to walk. It looks like the tram he was riding on hit an obstruction on the railway, probably a fallen stone, or coal that fell off the previous journey, came off the rails and caused the injury. The report states that he was injured so we can assume that death was not instant.
  • 26/3/1925, William Roberts, age 55, collier, fall of roof, died on the 10th June.
  • 02/05/1925, Joseph Aller, age: 35, Haulier: a horse bolted and crushed him by tram loaded with rails.
  • 18/07/1929, William Henry Warren, age: 29, Fitters mate: Bargoed high-pressure steam plant Accumulation of residual gas becoming ignited. 1 killed 4 injured.


Some Statistics:

  • 1901: Manpower: 167.
  • 1902: Manpower: 457.
  • 1903: Manpower: 899.
  • 1905: Manpower: 1,596.
  • 1907: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,904. Brithdir: 365.
  • 1908: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,802. Brithdir: 436.
  • 1909: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,930. Brithdir: 580.
  • 1910: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,943. Brithdir: 678.
  • 1911: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,871. Brithdir: 487.
  • 1912: Manpower: Bargoed: 2,147. Brithdir: 662.
  • 1913: Manpower: Bargoed: 2,144. Brithdir: 683.
  • 1915/6: Manpower: Bargoed: 2,700. Brithdir: 642.
  • 1918: Manpower: Bargoed: 2,035. Brithdir: 567.
  • 1919: Manpower: 2,000.
  • 1923: Manpower: Bargoed: 2,388. Brithdir: 747.
  • 1924: Manpower: Bargoed: 2,547. Brithdir: 505.
  • 1925: Manpower: Bargoed: 2,500. Brithdir: 500.
  • 1926: Manpower: Bargoed: 2,300. Brithdir: 500.
  • 1927: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,697. Brithdir: 498.
  • 1928: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,700. Brithdir: 500.
  • 1929: Manpower: Bargoed: 500. Brithdir: 456.
  • 1930: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,042. Brithdir: 466.
  • 1931: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,200. Brithdir: 328.
  • 1932: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,155. Brithdir: 706.
  • 1933: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,375. Brithdir: 704.
  • 1934: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,220. Output: 400,000 tons. Brithdir: 570. Output: 280,000 tons.
  • 1937: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,214. Brithdir: 682.
  • 1938: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,172. Brithdir: 659.
  • 1940: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,150. Brithdir:
  • 1941: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,311. Brithdir: 573.
  • 1942: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,216. Brithdir: 516.
  • 1943/5: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,146. Brithdir: 366.
  • 1947: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,048. Brithdir: 247.
  • 1948: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,042. Output 363,000 tons. Brithdir: 250. Output: 90,326 tons.
  • 1949: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,300. Output: 363,000 tons. Brithdir: 232. Output: 90,326 tons.
  • 1950: Manpower: Bargoed: 1,245. Brithdir: 173.
  • 1953: Manpower: 1,245. Output: 469,000 tons.
  • 1954: Manpower: 1,223. Output: 313,521 tons.
  • 1955: Manpower: ,110. Output: 278,998 tons.
  • 1956: Manpower: 1,126. Output: 276,936 tons.
  • 1957: Manpower: 1,177. Output: 252,300 tons.
  • 1958: Manpower: 1,132. Output: 258,458 tons.
  • 1960: Manpower: 798. Output: 198,655 tons.
  • 1961: Manpower: 792. Output: 198,609 tons.
  • 1962: Manpower: 861.
  • 1964: Manpower: 899.
  • 1967: Manpower: 805. Output: 298,135 tons.
  • 1968: Manpower: 819. Output: 320,512 tons.
  • 1969: Manpower: 750. Output: 260,361 tons.
  • 1970: Manpower: 742. Output: 213,597 tons.
  • 1971: Manpower: 688. Output: 141,158 tons.
  • 1972: Manpower: 656. Output: 147,330 tons.
  • 1973: Manpower: 657. Output: 164,767 tons.
  • 1974: Manpower: 689. Output: 180,096 tons.
  • 1975: Manpower: 608. Output: 181,625 tons.
  • 1976: Manpower: 371. Output: 110,920 tons.

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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