Mr J. P. D. Williams M.E. – General Manager of the Blaina Collieries.
Mr J. P. D. Williams was born in 1834 at Nantyglo, Monmouthshire. His family lived on the Garn, Nantyglo and at 11 years of age he started work in the coalmines. His first job was in the “Little Pit” Blaina, under his brother-in-law Mr Thomas Lewis the contractor.
He lost both parents by the time he was 13 years old and lived with his brother and sister. He decided to put all his efforts into learning and as he could only speak Welsh, he was advised to go to the Garn Reading Rooms and learn to speak the English language, as at that time technical education was only taught in the English language and to become of any use or service to one’s country, English had to be learnt.
Through hard work and perseverance, together with a determination to acquire knowledge he made his way up through the ranks of the colliery officialdom. He soon became one of the leading workmen in Messrs J & C. Bailey’s collieries. Mr Williams went on to become the sole contractor of the Forge Pit at Nantyglo, while Mr Phillips was the general manager of all the collieries at this time.
While studying, he had become very successful in Eisteddfods in the literary subjects, this led to him adopting the middle initials in his name P. D. as he used “Pen-Ddu” as a non de plume, which means “Black Head”.
The Coal Companies.
In 1874 Mr J. P. D. Williams became the general manager of the collieries under the ownership of the Nantyglo and Blaina Ironworks Company, then in 1878 he managed them for the new owners, Messrs J. Lancaster & Company.
The School Board.
In 1878 Mr Williams became the chairman of the Aberystruth School Board and worked with Mr Titus Phillips (Postmaster of Abertillery) and Mr Joseph Wallace (late Colliery Manager of Abertillery) and later with Mr W. B. Harrison (Ironmonger).
The Local Board.
In 1889 Mr Williams was elected with a very large majority onto the Nantyglo and Blaina Local Board.
South Griffin Colliery.
In June 1889 Mr J. P. D. Williams and Mr J. Dakers presided over the cutting of the sod for the new Lancaster Company’s South Griffin No3 Colliery at Bournville.
In October 1894 Mr Williams was appointed school manager for the Blaina and Abertillery District. At this time tenders of the Lancaster Co to supply coal to the Blaina Schools were accepted at 11s. 6d. per ton.
Nantyglo and District Council.
In April 1898 Mr Williams was unanimously elected chairman of the Nantyglo and District Council with the Rev. D. Lewis as vice-chairman.
On Saturday 30th of April 1898, Mr Williams was sworn in as Magistrate of the Blaina Police Courts and sat with Mr Joseph Wallace, Mr John Dakers and Mr E. J. Williams.
In December 1899 he was given a testimonial at the Market Hall, Blaina. The testimonial was presided over by Mr John Price, Mr John Evans and Mr David Wilkins (my great-grandfather, clerk of the works to J. Lancaster & Company). The contributions amounted to £130, and the presentation was to Mr and Mrs Williams, it consisted of an illuminated address surmounted by photographic portraits of Mr and Mrs Williams with photographs of all the company’s collieries around them both, together with a wrought silver tea & coffee service and tray.
Mr Dan A. Williams.
In June 1900 Mr Dan A. Williams, the son of J. P. D. Williams returned from active service in South Africa, he had served with distinction during the Boer War and was at the siege of Kimberley.
Miss M. Williams.
In February 1901 Miss M. Williams, the daughter of J. P. D. Williams gained the associate Diploma of the London College of Music for pianoforte playing. She had been a pupil of Mr W. Carr of Abergavenny.
The Death of Mr J. P. D. Williams.
On Monday 2nd June 1902, Mr J. P. D. Williams sadly passed away at the age of 68. He and his wife were residing at the Poplars, Blaina. He left a wife and six children.