The 'Old Coal' at Llanhilleth pit was worked by heading and stall, leaving pillars of coal to support the roof as the tunnel progressed. It was brought up the No. 1 pit until 1949, after which all work was concentrated in No.2 pit. The main seams worked were:
|Painting by Harry Williams of Llanhilleth|
Due to the geography of the Ebbw Fach Valley, the pit, its transport links and workers’ housing filled the valley alongside the river, leaving no space for other industry. (With the closure of the mines, this lack of alternative work was disastrous.) There was very little alternative for young lads growing up in the area, but to follow their fathers, and brothers and go down the pit.
Some were lucky enough to work in the local shops and cinema, but very few in comparison to the numbers who went down in the cage to work amidst the dense clouds of coal dust. One enterprising teacher brought shorthand intothe classroom, in the hope of breaking the family tradition. Men in their eighties still remember the symbols they were taught, but also remember their lifetime of work underground. The early mines were primitive and had very little ventilation and no electricity.
The shafts at Llanhilleth Colliery are as follows:
No. 2 Pit opened 1891 closed 1969 (The estimated life of the pit was 50 years, and it lasted just over 78 years.)
In 1913, 99 per cent of coal was hewn by hand.
Between 1850 and 1920, 3179 miners died in South Wales. (Thomas, Viscount Tonypandy, 1986)
1947 saw the Nationalisation of the coal mines. In 1961 Llanhilleth, along with Cwm, Waunlwyd, and Six Bells formed part of the National Coal Board's 'Crumlin Group.'
Abertillery & District History 2000 by Abertillery District Museum Soc, compiled by Don Bearcroft.
The Industrial Development of the Ebbw Valleys 1780-1914 by John Elliott, ISBN 078318908