Cwmtillery Colliery 1842-1982.
Mr Thomas Brown Esq.
Mr Thomas Brown of the Cwm Celyn & Blaina Iron Works, Blaina, began the sinking of the colliery on Tyr Nicholas Farm, Cwmtillery in about 1840, it was sunk and completed by September 1842. In the following years Mr Brown purchased more properties around Tyr Nicholas to expand the colliery surface area. The colliery, though named Tyr Nicholas was also known as Browns Colliery, after its owner.
All coal from the Tyr Nicholas Colliery, Cwmtillery, was transported down the valley to the main tram line behind the Bush Inn by pack-mules.
The following details are as close as I can get to being accurate as during the various sinking and altering of the layout of the colliery the 3 shafts were re-numbered many times.
No 1 shaft (upcast) sunk to the elled coal seam at 130 yards deep. Shaft diameter 7 feet. (originally No1). This would become the upcast shaft by 1875 with 2 ventilation furnaces at pit bottom.
Mr John Russell Esq.
In 1847 Mr John Russell Esq a colliery proprietor of Risca, a business partner of Messrs Thomas and James Brown, who had formed Russell & Browns Iron Company at Blaina in 1832 though had left the partnership in 1840, purchased the colliery from Mr Thomas Brown. In order for him to expand the colliery put out for tenders to have a dram line built up the Tillery Valley. All the coal would then be transported down the valley in drams hauled by horses.
In 1852 Mr John Russell sunk the No2 shaft to 185 yards deep with a diameter of 12′ x 16′ elliptical. He had the No 1 shaft deepened to 240 yards deep.
Mr Lodowick William Rees.
In July 1855 Mr Lodowick William Rees, a manager working for Mr John Russell at his Risca collieries, left there to come and manage Tyr Nicholas Colliery, Cwmtillery.
In 1858 he had the No 3 shaft sunk to 261 yards deep with a diameter 12′ x 16′ feet elliptical.
The Company Shop.
In 1861 the Tyr Nicholas Colliery had a company shop, it was owned by the owner of the colliery Mr John Russell, the weigher was Mr Edward Carpenter.
South Wales Colliery Company.
In 1864 the South Wales Collieries Company was formed to purchased Tyr Nicholas Colliery, Cwmtillery from Mr John Russell. It was said that the company was formed under the advice of Mr Thomas Brown, who was in negotiations with Mr Crawshay Bailey in purchasing the collieries back from Mr Russell. It was reported that Mr John Russell was asking the sum of £66,000 for the Collieries. After lengthy discussions with the company, Mr John Russell sold it to them for an undisclosed amount.
The South Wales Colliery Company – The Original Company Members 1864.
The Directors – Mr S. P. Vereker (South Staffordshire Railway Co); Mr W. Challis Esq and Mr Thomas Greatrex (Newport); Mr W. B. Greenfield Esq (Pernambuco Railway Co); Mr Lawrence Heyworth Esq (Yew Tree, Liverpool):
The Chairman – Mr Crawshay Bailey Esq, MP: Vice Chairman – Mr R. W. Kennard, Messrs Kennard & Co:
Bankers – The Consolidated Bank (Fenchurch St) and Messrs Crawshay Bailey & Co (Newport):
Solicitors – Mr George Rooper Esq (Lincolns Inn Fields):
Brokers – Messrs Joshua Hutchinson & Sons:
Auditors – Mr Edward Cheshire Esq (Bank Of Egypt) and Mr Cornelius Walford Esq (Enfield):
Secretary – Mr James J. Wallis Esq:
Offices – No 16 Cannon Street London:
After the South Wales Colliery Company purchased Tyr Nicholas Colliery, post 1864, the colliery became known as the South Wales Colliery, Cwmtillery.
The South Wales Colliery Company Shop.
In 1864 after the colliery was purchased by the newly formed South Wales Colliery Company, the Industrial Shop Company was connected to the South Wales Colliery Company with the chairman of both the company and the industrial shop company being Mr Lawrence Heyworth. This shop was so called the Truck Shop or Company Store. The system was that the employee was paid his wages with part cash and part tokens, redeemable only at the company store.
To many people this seemed wrong, the truck system had a hold on the workers who could not spend the tokens anywhere else other than the company shop, which was said to have had a high cost on provisions compared to other local stores. Though this was debated in a later case where a few local people objected to the practise and it was argued over in the High Court. Mr Lawrence Heyworth defended the truck system by stating he had seen many a hardship in Cwmtillery where workers wives could not afford to feed themselves or their children as their husbands were spending their wages in the pub.
Mr Lawrence Heyworth wanted the wives to have some security and have the tokens to spend on themselves and children. Not every employer felt the same as at the same time Messrs T. P. & D. Price of the Tillery Penybont Colliery and Mr John Conway of the Tin Works, Abertillery publicly announced they were to pay their employees in coin of the realm. The latter as early as the 1850’s even offering his workforce free train fares once a month for them to shop at Newport or Bristol.
The Powder Magazine.
Mr George Collingwood was the shop keeper of the truck shop, he was running it for the company and being paid a wage of £60 per year plus 10% for goods sold. Mr James Harding was the company cashier, Mr George Collingwood also held the license to keep and sell gunpowder with a maximum of 1 ton to be held in the colliery powder magazine at one time.
In 1875 the South Wales Colliery, Cwmtillery was linked to the newly sunk Rose Heyworth Colliery in the neighbouring valley for ventilation purposes. A main drivage between the two collieries was driven by Mr Joseph Wallace the general manager and a Mr William Adams, a mining engineer of Cardiff. The Rose Heyworth shaft was the downcast and Cwmtillery No3 shaft was the upcast.
Lancaster Spier & Company.
In July 1888 the Lancaster Spier & Company (a subsidiary of Lancaster & Company) worked the South Wales Colliery (along with Rose Heyworth Colliery) under lease from the South Wales Collieries Company. The colliery became known as Cwmtillery Colliery. Messrs Spier was a Lancaster family member, it was only under their control for a short while. Financial problems occurred and Messrs J. Lancaster Co took over control of that certain partnership.
Lancaster & Co.
In 1900’s Messrs J. Lancaster & Co took over the Cwmtillery Colliery.
The Ebbw Vale Company.
In 1915 the Ebbw Vale Company leased the Cwmtillery Colliery.
In 1947 the collieries of Great Britain were taken over by the National Coal Board.
In 1959 a new drift was driven from Rose Heyworth Colliery, 1,200 yards down at a 1 in 5 gradient to the Cwmtillery workings. This new drift was to transport the coal from Cwmtillery and Rose Heyworth to be washed at the new coal preparation plant that was built at the Rose Heyworth Colliery. The washed coal was then sent straight down the valley. All railway lines up the Cwmtillery side was then dismantled.
In 1959 the Cwmtillery Colliery was renamed (Abertillery New Mine – Cwmtillery Section) after the merger of the Rose Heyworth and Cwmtillery Collieries and following the installation of the new drift.
In 1977 Abertillery New Mine, Rose Heyworth and Cwmtillery Sections were linked to (Blaenserchan Colliery).
On Friday 20th November 1982 Cwmtillery Colliery officially closed.
Points of interest….. In the featured image can be seen the original South Wales Inn (far left) also featured on the old maps as being situated at the entrance to the colliery with a row of cottages containing a shop. The 3 shafts are in the image, the 2 winding shafts with headgear and the 3 shaft for ventilation (far right) with a wide chimney stack. In an early report this stack was lower and in line with the roof of the winding house though examinations in connection with ventilation problems it was proved that the wind blowing across the roof of the winding house was causing a buffering effect and interfering with the constant flow of air rising from the furnace ventilation shaft. In consequence to this effect the company was ordered to rise the stack well above the roof of the winding house to prevent this occurring.