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Some Information From Wales

Thanks to Billy Williams


Mining in South Wales dates back to 1281
The South Wales coalfield is probably the most famous in the world.
Certainly it was one of the first to be worked.

Records show that coal was being mined at Felin Fach, Llanfabon, in 1281, and by the monks of Neath Abbey at about the same time.

And it is known that in Swansea, in 1305, the Norman Lord William de Dreos empowered his tenants to dig for coal.
For centuries, coalmining was to remain little more than an extension of iron-making, with little coal actually exported. Indeed, Cardiff Docks, which was to become the greatest coal port in the world, was a net importer of coal until well into the 18th Century.

Between 1551 and 1560, the average amount exported each year was around 3,000 tons.

By 1681, that trade had grown to 75,000 tons a year, with Barry (though not Cardiff) among the main coal exporting ports.
In 1700, coal was still only placed eighth in the league table of exports from Pembrokeshire. But by the time another 100 years had gone by, it was the main   export of both Pembrokeshire and Glamorgan.

South Wales produced its biggest output of coal in 1913 when 56,830,317 tons were cut.

And, although the coalfield has been declining for much of the 20th century, it retained the distinction of being Britain's biggest coal producing region for another 40 years before losing the title to Yorkshire.

The Welsh Coalfield
Death In Pits For The Heroes Of War
Paul Robeson captured the sympathy of the miners of Wales

• 1281: Earliest known use of coal in Wales at Neath.
• 1516: Abbot of Margam granted licence to mine coal.

• 1660: First recorded mine death in South Wales.
• 1815: Invention of Davy Lamp promises new era in mine safety.

• 1820: CUMGWRACH. Neath, Glamorganshire.9th. June, 1820. An explosion resulted in five dead of which two were girls, Elizabeth Pendry aged 6 years and Annie Tonks aged 12 years.
• 1825: First recorded major disaster - 59 killed at Cwmllynfell Swansea Valley, Glamorganshire.
• 1828: 20th May, Flint, Flintshire. Firedamp explosion killed between 9 and 11 and injured 11 others

• 1830: Export of South Wales coal begins. Work on building Cardiff Docks started.
• 1831: First mining unions in South Wales is established.
• 1837: Argoed. Mold, Flintshire. inundated with the loss of 20 lives, 10 others were rescued after being in the pit for 3 days.
• 1837: 17 Sep., Old Coal Pit. Blaina, Monmouthshire. 21 lives were lost in an explosion caused by naked lights.
• 1837: Dec., Bailey's Mine, Nantyglo. Blaina, Monmouthshire - An explosion ignited at a candle claimed 7 lives.
• 1838: 28 Nov., Cinder Pits. Blaenavon, Glamorganshire. Torrential rain and deep snow fall cause both shafts to be swamped by water running down the hillside. 14 men and 2 women died.
• 1839: West Bute Docks opens, bringing new era of coalfield development.

• 1840: July, Mostyn. Mostyn, Flintshire, Explosion killed 11, 5 others were seriously injured.
• 1840: 6 July, St. David's Pit. Llangennech. Llanelli, Glamorganshire, 2 men and 3 boys killed in an explosion 26 others injured.
• 1842: Parliament forbids employment of girls and boys under 10 as miners.
• 1844: 1 Jan, Dinas Middle Pit. Glamorganshire. Explosion killed 8 men and 4 boys
• 1844: 14 Feb, Landshipping, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. Inundation from River Dunleddy killed 40
• 1845: 1 Aug., Old Duffryn, Aberdare, Glamorganshire. Explosion, 29 lost their lives, most of them from suffocation
1847: December, Nantyglow. Monmouthshire. 11 men were gassed and 8 lost their lives
• 1848: 29th March, Eaglesbush. Neath. Glamorganshire. Explosion killed 20 men and boys
• 1848, June, Black Vein Ironstone Mine. Aberdare, Glamorganshire. Explosion killed 11 miners.
• 1848, June, Victoria Iron Works. Aberdare, Monmouthshire. Bucket crashed to the bottom of the shaft, 12 died.
• 1849: 14 Jan., Risca, Black Vein Pit. Monmouthshire. Explosion killed 35
• 1849: 16th May Werfa. Aberdare, Glamorganshire. 3 were killed and 2 were not expected to survive. 12 were injured in all when a man with a Davy lamp went into a heading which was fouled and he was followed by a boy with a candle at which the gas exploded.
• 1849: 19th May Llantwit. Pontypridd, Glamorganshire. Eighteen men stepped into the carriage which was a water balance. They were warned of overcrowding but did not listen. The carriage overpowered the brake and crashed 96 yards into the sump killing 7.
• 1849: 20 July, Minera. Wrexham, Denbighshire. Explosion caused by candles killed 9 men, dreadfully injured another. A horse was also killed.
• 1849: 10th August, Lletyshenkin Colliery, Aberdare. Explosion caused by naked candle flame claims Lives of 52 men.
• 1849: 16th August, Cwmynantddu. Pontypool, Glamorganshire. 5 men lost their lives in an explosion.

• 1852: Sixty five men and boys die in gas explosion at Middle Duffryn Colliery, Aberdare.
• 1856: Cymmer Colliery, Forth, is scene of biggest disaster so far as 114 die underground.

• 1867: Explosion kills 178 men and boys at Femdale Colliery, Rhondda.
• 1869: Another 60 miners are killed at Ferndale.

• 1870: Coal production in South Wales exceeds 13,590,000 tons. 34,000 miners employed in Glamorgan pits.
• 1874: Roath Basin opened to cope with worldwide demand for Welsh coal.
• 1875: 6th Dec, Llan colliery, Gwaelod-y-Garth. Cardiff's only mining disaster explosion killed 16 men and boys. Around 300 men and boys worked at the Llan drift mine, which supplied coal to the neighbouring Pentyrch iron works and brick works on the outskirts of Cardiff. On a snowy December morning 137 years ago, half of them were on shift when an explosion ripped through a coal seam 500ft (152m) down. Villagers from surrounding areas congregated at the surface as word spread, along with two doctors from nearby Taffs Well. The dead and injured were carried out of the mine on planks and taken to local houses where their wives and mothers tended to them. Twelve men and boys died that day, including one aged 12 and an 11-year-old who had been playing hide and seek underground. Another four died afterwards from the effects of the explosion.
Because the workers were not unionised the widows and their families were not given any money and many ended up in work houses.
• 1877: The Tynewydd Inundation disaster, five killed by underground floods.

• 1880: Explosion kills 96 at Naval Colliery, Rhondda.
• 1885: Christmas Eve explosion at Maerdy Colliery kills 81 men.

• 1892: Gas blast at Pare Slip Colliery leaves 114 dead.
• 1894: Second worst disaster of all time at Albion Colliery, Cilfynydd - 290 dead.

• 1900: Coal production in South Wales increased to 39,320,000 tons.
• 1901: The first Senghenydd disaster - 82 killed in explosion of methane.
• 1905: Tragedy at National Colliery, Wattstown claims  119 lives, in same year as 31 die at Cambrian Colliery, Clydach Vale.

• 1910: Tonypandy Riots.
• 1913: South Wales coalfield reaches zenith - total output is 57,000,000 tons.
           In the same year, the worst disaster in the history of the UK coalfields occurs as 440 die at Senghenydd.

• 1926: The General Strike. Miners are eventually forced back to work after nine months on lower wages than before.
• 1927: Marine Colliery, Ebbw Vale, Cwm, Monmouthshire. 1st March 1927

• 1947: Coal industry nationalised.

1960: 28th June, Six Bells, Monmouthshire, 45 killed.
• 1962: 12th April. Tower Colliery, Hirwaun. 9 killed. (explosion)
• 1965: Second disaster at Cambrian Colliery, Clydach Vale claims another 31 lives.
• 1966: The whole world is shocked as a coal spoil tip engulfs the village of Aberfan, killing 144 adults and children.

• 1984: The year-long miners' strike begins.
• 1985: Defeat for the miners heralds the start of the final run-down of the South Wales coal industry.

• 1992: Government closure programme kills off all but one of the remaining South Wales pits.
• 1994: Tower Colliery, British Coal's last deep mine in South Wales closes - but the miners buy it as the coal industry is privatised.
• 1995: Tower reopens as new era of private mining begins.

• 2011: Gleision Drift mine in South Wales, 4 men drowned

• 2013: Oil Industry Expert Reveals Plans To Extract Gas From Coal Beds In Wales

Information from The South Wales Echo, Monday 27th March 1995