West Blaina Red Ash Level.
This coal level was situated on the side of the Arael Mountain above West Side Blaina, close to the Llanerch-y-Pant Farm.
Mr R. C. Banks.
The West Blaina Red Ash Level was opened in 1887 by Mr R. C. Banks. The tramway incline came from the level entrance down the mountain passing close to Alma Row and Inkerman Row and on into the North Griffin Colliery sidings for transportation (as seen in the map image of 1901).
When the North Griffin Colliery closed in April 1907 the tramway incline from the West Blaina Red Ash Coal Level was diverted down through the Trostre area north of the level and into the Coalbrookvale Colliery site to utilise their sidings (as seen in the later map image from 1920).
Mr Thomas Rossiter of High Street Blaina was the colliery blacksmith, the night overman was Mr Alfred George Savage of Railway Terrace, Blaina.
In the 1920’s the owner was still Mr Banks and the manager was Mr Samuel Hollister of the Laurels, Blaina, the under-manager was Mr Frederick Gay.
The Bargoed Coal Company.
In March 1934 Mr Banks sold the West Blaina Colliery to the Bargoed Coal Company, though retaining the management team.
Mr Sam Hollister.
In 1937 Mr Sam Hollister became one of the oldest managers in the South Wales coalfield.
The West Blaina Colliery Lodge Officers.
In February 1937 the West Blaina Colliery Lodge Officers were – Mr John Watts (Chairman); Mr G. Smith of Brynmawr (Vice-Chairman); Mr T. Thomas of Twynyderyn (Secretary); Mr Enoch James of Brynmawr (Treasurer); Area Delegate Mr Frederick Preece of Nantyglo; Committee Messrs T. Davies, Mr W. Prosser and the officers:
Mr Frank Scherschel.
In 1947 a cameraman by the name of Mr Frank Scherschel working for the LIFE Magazine in the U.S.A. came to Blaina and recorded life in the town and surrounding area along with a photographic study of the mines and the miners. Mr Frank Scherschel was a cameraman during WWII and followed the soldiers into battle and photographed many memorable images. During 1947 he was sent to Blaina and Nantyglo to record life in the valley following the consequences of war in post war industrial Britain.
In 1947 the West Blaina Red Ash Level was taken over by the National Coal Board.
In March 1948 it was reported that the West Blaina Red Ash Level would close after 61 years of coal production. The N.C.B. said the reason for its closure was that it became uneconomical to run. It was stated that 150 men worked at the level. The men would be absorbed into other collieries as follows – Men from Brynmawr and Nantyglo would go to Blaenavon Colliery and men from Blaina would go to the Llanhilleth or Newbridge Collieries.
(more information to come).
Points of interest – During the North Griffin Colliery’s lifetime it had tipped waste on the side of the mountain behind the houses at West Side, the West Blaina Colliery added to the waste tip over time, as a consequence of this and a natural land movement the area became unstable and many years later in 1916 the waste tip slipped and demolished Alma Row (as seen on the maps above).
In October 1937 it was reported that the mountainside waste tip was still moving and was threatening Palmers Row and Lamb Row.