The Arael Griffin Colliery Six Bells.
The report from May 8th 1891 of the “Turning the Sod” for the Lancaster Co new pits at Six Bells. The party of officials turned out on the Tuesday previous to cut the sod for the sinking of Arael Griffin No’s 4 & 5. A special train had been engaged to bring the Directors and visitors from Blaina to the spot. On its arrival at Six Bells the train was received with a salvo of fog detonators.
The following gentlemen were present – Mr J. Lancaster JP Chairman of the company; Mr George Granville Lancaster; Mr George W. Lancaster Directors; Mr John Dakers Managing Director; Mr Frank Wright Secretary; Messrs W. S. Jones, E. P. Jones, Newport and Cardiff agents to the company; Mr Thos Vachell mining agent; Dr Soper, Mr W. H. Chambers (Stephenson Clarke & Co); Rev Howell Howells; Rev F. Morgan; Rev T. F. Rees; Rev D. O. Evans; Rev Timothy; Mr T. P. D. Williams, Mr A. W. Thomas (Cory Bros); Mr Parfitt, Mr T. T. Dawson (Tillery Colliery Co); Mr W. E. Williams F.R.C.S. JP; Mr T Colbourne; Mr A. A. Williams JP Pontypool; Messrs T. Drew; Caleb Lewis; B. C. Lewis; C. J. Jones; A. Wilkins; T. Rosser; F. Athay; R. Pearson; J. Jeffreys; Jos Owen Swinburne; W. H. Whateley; D. A. Williams; W. Gregson; A. Aubrey; Boucher, Adye (G.W.R superintendant); Roberts, Leach Abertillery and Bowen Blaina.
Mr Dakers presented a spade to Mr John Lancaster who cut the first sod and a move across to the site for the second shaft where that sod was cut by Mr Charles T. Part. Rev Howell Howells then addressed the meeting. The Rev then read the 90th Psalm concluding with a prayer. The directors and officials were then photographed by Mr Cuthbert, Abertillery. The company then adjourned to a large marquee on site where Mr and Mrs Hancock of the Queens Hotel Blaina provided luncheon, the tables were set out and a banner on the roof had the mottoes “Success to the new sinking” and “Success to Mr John Lancaster and Co” Later all the workmen were entertained to dinner.
The Land and Mineral Rights.
The Collieries would work the estate of Mr Price on the east and that of Mr Hanbury of Pontypool to the north of the valley. It was expected that the coal output to be 700,000 tons per annum.
The Colliery Sinking Tragedies of 1895.
On the 9th February 1895 four Sinkers died at the Arael Griffin Colliery, Six Bells Pit. The teams were ascending and descending when the Bowk the men were going down the shaft in hit some staging and tipped over throwing four men to their deaths.
The Arael Griffin Colliery Sinking teams consited of the following – Mr William Matthews – Pontnewynydd; Mr William Lusty – 6 Court Terrace, Llanhilleth; Mr George Lusty (Brother of William); Mr Edward Bennett – Vivian Street, Abertillery; Mr James Bennett – Crumlin; Mr David Hayland; Mr Thomas Drew – Winderman; Mr Owen Richards and Mr John Cowley – Banksmen; Mr John Dere; Mr James Jones; Mr David Phillips; Mr John Jenkins – Abersychan; Mr Richard Bates; Mr John Lamb – Blaenau Gwent and Mr Thomas Day – Mitre Street, Abertillery:
Mr William Matthews, Mr Thomas Day, Mr William Lusty and Mr John Lamb were killed.
On the 13th April 1895 a Pit Sinker died at the Areal Griffin Colliery, Six Bells Pit. The Sinking team were laying pipes down the shaft and whilst lowering a pipe into position it fell from its hitching and struck Mr Eli Morgan causing him to fall to his death.
The Arael Griffin Colliery Sinking team at this time consited of the following – Mr James Townrow (Master Sinker); Mr George Jones; Mr Eli Morgan and Mr Samuel Morgan (Brothers); Mr Albert John Phipps (Banksman);
On the 2nd May 1895 a Pit Sinker died at the Areal Griffin Colliery, Six Bells Pit. The team were working in the shaft when a stone fell from the side and struck the two men.
The Arael Griffin Colliery Sinking team at this time consisted of the following – Mr Richard Wiltshire (Chargeman); Mr Frederick Meek; Mr Jacob Herbert – Edward Street, Abertillery; Mr Jacob Kyle – Panty-pwdyn, Abertillery (Mr Kyle was also injured in the 1890 Vivian Colliery catastrophe):
Mr Jacob Herbert later died of his severe injuries.