Colliery photographs collection

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 218 D2377
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      Not provided

Scope and Content

photographs of the Blaendare Drift Mine, 1968; Tirpentwys Colliery, c.1910, 1969, 1973; Glyn Pits, 1968-1984; Big Pit, Blaenafon, 1950-1980; New Drift, Blaenafon, c. 1910-1979

Administrative / Biographical History

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Industrial Revolution had a major impact in South Wales, where the iron and steel factories and coal mines were concentrated. The period of the great expansion of the coal industry was from1840-1920. The South Wales coal field covers approximately 1000 square miles and extends from Pontypool, Gwent westwards to St. Bride's Bay, Pembrokeshire. At the end of the Second World War, an enquiry set up by the government recommended that the coal industry should be nationalised. On 1st January 1947, the National Coal Board was established. During the mid 1950's the industry continue to decline in the number of pits and miners employed. Most of the pits closed still had coal reserves but with oil and cheaply imported coal available, successive governments and the National Coal Board have been unwilling to keep open 'uneconomic'pits where coal was mined at a loss. Blaendare Drift was originally worked for fire clay. The mine closed in early 1970s. Later opencast mining took place on this site. The first coal was raised at Tirpentwys in 1881. The colliery was closed in 1969, but was retained for pumping and ventilation. The Glyn pit was one of the first collieries to use steam powered winding engines. It ceased production in 1932, but retained as pumping and ventilation unit for Hafodyrynys Colliery until early 1960s. The first recorded working of coal in Blaenavon was in 1775. Big Pit was sunk in 1860. Coal winding ceased in 1973 after a new drift was driven enabling coal to be brought to the surface near to the washery. The shaft was used for man riding and ventilation only. The colliery ceased production on the 2nd of February 1980. It is now forms a vital part of the "Blaenavon World Heritage Site" and is run as a mining museum. Glyn Morgan was the last Coal Board manager.


Arranged into : Blaendare Drift Mine, Pontypool; Tirpentwys Colliery, Pontypool; Glyn Pits, Pontypool; Big Pit, Blaenafon; New Drift, Blaenafon.

Access Information

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information

Purchase and Donation from Mr. John Cornwell, Bristol, 1985 and 1986.


Compiled by Seri Crawley for the ANW project. The following sources were used to compile this description: Gwent Record Office,Catalogue of colliery photographs; Egan, David, Coal society: a history of the South Wales Mining Valleys 1840-1980 (Llandysul,1987); Cornwell, John, Collieries of South Wales: vol. 1 and 2 (Ashbourne, 2001); Welsh Coal Mines( viewed 26 May 2004.

Other Finding Aids

A hard copy of the catalogue is available at Gwent Record Office

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright regulations apply.

Appraisal Information

All records deposited at Gwent Record Office have been retained.


Accruals are not expected.