Oakdale, Sirhowy Valley

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William Barnes Mime of James Street, Cardiff was granted a lease for twenty-one years to the mineral rights under the Daren Felyn Farm in July 1918 and formed the Islwyn Colliery Company to open the Islwyn Level. In that year it employed 18 men underground and 2 men on the surface.

An underground roadway was driven for 700 yards through old workings to a virgin area of the Mynyddislwyn seam. He invested heavily into the project, installing compressed air coal cutters and other modern machinery. In 1923 it employed 31 men working underground and 5 men at the surface, in 1924/9 it employed 50 men and in 1930, 14 men working underground and 7 men at the surface of the mine. In 1935 this level employed two men on the surface and fourteen men underground with the manager still being W.J. Barnes.

In 1936 the two eldest sons of the manager, William Barnes; David and Oswald were trapped by a fall of roof for four days, they were rescued unharmed. This event must have had an unsettling effect on Mr. Barnes, for in 1937 the colliery was sold to E.H. Bennett and Company also of Cardiff. This company immediately increased the manpower to 9 men on the surface and 58 men working underground but by the following year manpower had dropped back to 32 men underground and 5 men on the surface. It produced an average of 140 tons a week in 1939. In 1943/5 manpower was 55 men underground and 8 men on the surface with the manager being J. Evans.

On Nationalisation in 1947 this colliery was placed in the National Coal Board’s, South Western Division’s, No.5 Rhymney Area, and at that time employed 10 men on the surface and 63 men underground working the thinner and inferior Mynyddislwyn Bottom seam and old pillars of the Mynyddislwyn Top Seam. It was closed on December 25th 1948.


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 welshminingbooks@gmail.com for availability.

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