Blaina, Ebbw Fach Valley (SO 1987 0846)

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The Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Company was the parent company of Lancaster’s Steam Coal Collieries Limited, and they made the decision to close the main pits in the Nantyglo/Blaina area due to them being uneconomic. This was carried out in March 1921. They then decided to sink a new shaft on the site of the old blast furnaces of the Blaina Iron Works which was at the top of High Street. Sinking started on the 25th of April 1922 and the new pit (Beynons) opened for production on the

14th of July 1923. The North Blaina pit was then closed on the 30th of July 1923 and the Lower Deep pit on the 1st of September 1923.

The Beynons pit was used as the coal winding and downcast pit, it was 20 feet in diameter and sunk to a depth of 130 yards. Winding was done by a 350 h.p. electric winder.

The Upper Deep pit was the upcast ventilation shaft (when this pit was closed the Marine Colliery provided the upcast shaft). It was elliptical in shape 16ft 9 inches by 10ft 3 inches and was 190 yards deep to the Old Coal level. The Lower Deep pit was the same size as the Upper pit and was 192 yards deep. It was used for pumping purposes.

The glory days of coal were rapidly coming to an end and Beynon Colliery suffered as bad as any other colliery due to the slump in the demand for its coals. By the end of October 1925, it was decided to close the pit, it had only worked for one day during the past three weeks. It was reopened on the 14th of December 1925 but then suffered the ups and downs of the times closing for days and sometimes weeks. That is, until the General Strike and Lock-Out of 1926. The reason for this strike can be encapsulated in the slogan ‘not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day.’ Yet again the coal owners demanded concessions from the miners. The miners refused to accept the owner’s terms, and on the 30th of April 1926 the lock-out notices expired and the pits stopped.

Amongst much confusion and dithering the General Council of the Trades Union Congress approved of the strike and a General Strike of all the workers of the U.K. was called from the 4th of May. The state of confusion, the lack of compromise from the government who totally supported the owners, coupled with the government propaganda that it was really a 20 ‘red revolution’ caused the General Strike to collapse on the 12th of May 1926.

On Nationalisation in 1947 Beynon Colliery was placed in the National Coal Boards, South Western Division’s, No.6 (Monmouthshire) Area, Abertillery Group, being listed as Beynon, Lower Deep and North Blaina. It was then working the Lower-Six-Feet, Nine-Feet and Meadow Vein seams, employing 547 men underground and 115 men on the surface. The manager was T. Bowen. This colliery had its own coal preparation plant.

An NCB report of 1950 stated that the Elled, Big, Three-Quarter and Old Coal seams were exhausted, all the rest had been extensively worked bar for the Lower-Three-Quarter which was poor, and the Garw which was unknown.

In 1955 out of a total manpower of 625 men, 300 of them worked at the coalfaces, both figures had dropped by 1961 with 200 men at the coalfaces out of the 500 men employed.

In 1960 the NCB carried out an investigation into the reserves of coal that were left for this colliery and found a very depressing situation:

  • The Elled seam reserves to the south-east of the Lower Deep Pit were ruled out as inaccessible while there were 100,000 tons of the Old Coal nearer that was workable.
  • The Big Vein was found to be exhausted as was the Three-Quarter seam.
  • The Lower Three-Quarter seam was found to be only 19 inches thick.
  • In the Top Black Vein, there were 250,000 tons of reserves near Waunlwyd Colliery and 75,000 tons to the east of the shafts.
  • The Lower Black Vein seam had 300,000 tons of reserves to the south-west and 125,000 tons to the east.
  • The Meadow Vein seam was deemed too thin to work in the east but had 275,000 tons of coal left to the west and southwest.

Closure of neighbouring collieries then eased the situation and gave access to more reserves.

In February 1963 an explosion of methane gas caused the roof to collapse trapping nine men. The deputy, Thomas Davies, of Abergavenny risked his own life in reaching them and guiding them out of the pit. For this act he received the Daily Herald Order for Industrial Heroism.

The colliery again entered a period of low productivity and was put on the NCB’s closure list until improved performances in 1965 “it was no longer regarded as a short term pit and was now expected to operate for several years.”

In 1965/66 this colliery made a profit of £49,000, in 1966/67 it made a profit of £126,000 but then at the beginning of 1969 it lost 12.5 pence on every ton of coal raised, it soon recovered by making 18 pence per ton in February 1969 and was taken off the closure list but remained on the jeopardy list. The manager from at least 1969 to its closure was H.J. Williams. However, its problems were not over and it was dogged by dirty seams.

Beynon Colliery, which was at the end of its productive life, was closed by the National Coal Board following an underground fire on April 2nd 1975, thus ending two hundred years of intensive coal mining in the Nantyglo/Blaina area. As the colliery was ventilated by the fan at Marine Colliery which was 600 metres from the Beynons workings, the Marine Colliery had to be shut down to stop the fire/smoke from spreading until the Beynon Colliery side was sealed off.

On closure the manpower distribution at this colliery was; on the coalface, 91, other work underground, 123, on the surface 62 men. 211 of those men were under 55 years, 30 men were between 55 and 59 years and 35 men were over 60 years of age.

In September 1975 the stocks of coal were finally lifted from Beynon Colliery. The last train out of Beynon ran on the 15th of September 1975 some 5 months after the closure of the pit although coal was still brought in for Thomas Gore, a local coal merchant until December 1975. All empty wagons from this merchant’s yard were removed in January 1976.


Some Statistics:

  • 1923: Manpower: 1,527
  • 1924: Manpower: 1,533
  • 1925/6: Manpower: 1,650.
  • 1927: Manpower: 1,477.
  • 1928: Manpower: 75.
  • 1932: Manpower: 900.
  • 1934: Manpower: 685. Output: 240,000 tons.
  • 1937: Manpower: 644.
  • 1938: Manpower: 681.
  • 1940: Manpower: 790.
  • 1943: Manpower: 727.
  • 1945: Manpower: 727.
  • 1947: Manpower: 672.
  • 1948: Manpower: 699. Output: 133,000 tons.
  • 1949: Manpower: 620. Output: 124,000 tons.
  • 1950: Manpower: 689.
  • 1953: Manpower: 647. Output: 161,000 tons.
  • 1954: Output: 136,925 tons.
  • 1955: Manpower: 625. Output: 139,885 tons.
  • 1956: Manpower: 629. Output: 140,774 tons.
  • 1957: Manpower: 638. Output: 148,293 tons.
  • 1958: Manpower: 621. Output: 145,966 tons.
  • 1960: Manpower: 508. Output: 97,000 tons.
  • 1961: Manpower: 500. Output: 103,742 tons.
  • 1962: Manpower: 503.
  • 1964: Manpower: 689. Output: 133,500 tons.
  • 1969: Manpower: 377.
  • 1970: Manpower: 337.
  • 1971: Manpower: 316.
  • 1972: Manpower: 311.
  • 1975: Manpower: 276.


The pits Beynons Colliery replaced or combined were:

Lower Deep Colliery
Upper Deep Colliery
Sun & North Blaina Colliery


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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