Correspondence and papers of Joseph West, manager

Scope and Content

The collection contains files of correspondence kept by Joseph West who was manager of Bargoed Laboratory under Powell Duffryn, then later kept on by the National Coal Board as Carbonisation Officer for No 5 (South Wales) Area. The files include analysis of coal and its by-products, details of coke production and shipments, correspondence specific to certain chemical processes, the ammonia plant, and gasholders and purification.

It contains letters from the previous managers (see DPD 2/7) and from the chief engineer (see DPD 2/6).

Correspondence: general 1907-1947; coke production and shipments 1919-1949; Bargoed Tar Plant 1926-1947; Ammonia plant 1927-1953; chemicals including Presotim, Napthalene, Presomet etc 1917-1946; Benzole plant 1926-1948; gasholders and purifiers Nov 1919-May 1958; Caerphilly Tar Distillation works 1936-1951; Stores' copies of order letters 7 Sep 1948-26 Oct 1951; Goods outwards books Dec 1925-May 1951; General coke production and shipments 1930-1955; Miscellaneous Aug 1856-Feb 1944

Administrative / Biographical History

The sinking of Bargoed Colliery by the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company began in 1896. The first coal was produced in 1901. The colliery consisted of three shafts, the North and South and the Brithdir house coal, which was sunk in 1903. On 10 December 1908 it broke the world record for production when 3,562 tons of coal were raised in a a ten-hour shift, and again in 1909 when 4,020 tons were raised in the same time. The colliery consisted of three shafts, the North and the South.

By 1905 new coke ovens and a by-product recovery plant had been erected at the colliery to cope with the increased supplies of coking coals. A benzol plant and a concentrated ammonia plant were also built. It was a great example of colliery enterprise in providing appliances not only for working and raising of coal but for its full utilisation after raising, by washing the small coal, coking in regenerative by-product ovens, the manufacture of sulphuric acid and sulphate of ammonia and tar distillation and by production of electric power from the coke oven gases in gas engines. A range of products were extracted including benzole, naphthalene, presotim (a wood preservative), presomet (a black bituminous paint for metals) and syntharar and synthacold (tar products for road services).

In May 1926 a serious fire occurred at Bargoed when naphthalene at the by-products plant become ignited. The tar distillation plant was affected and the rebuilding of the wrecked plant was started immediately.

In 1938 a new tar distillation plant was erected at Caerphilly and completed in 1939. It distilled all the tar produced at the by-products works attached to the Bargoed coke ovens, and the whole of the available tar produced by all the steel companies in South Wales which had coke ovens

The mine was nationalised in 1947, and came under the control of the National Coal Board. The old coke ovens were replaced in 1949-1950, and the colliery closed in 1977.


At sub-series level the folders have been arranged according to the works, plant etc for which they concern. The folders themselves have been kept in their original order. The correspondence was clearly kept in a filing system by date, then alphabetically by company name (or surname).

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the National Coal Board on 11 Feburary 1959 (accession number 1237).

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Fair to good condition

Appraisal Information

All records have been retained


Accruals are not expected

Related Material

For more records on Bargoed Colliery including photograph albums, weekly reports etc see the Powell Duffryn Limited Collection at Glamorgan Archives (ref: DPD)