Graig Fawr Red Ash Colliery
This mine was 440 yards to the south of Marine Colliery and worked in the Brithdir (Tillery or Red Ash) seam to the north-west of the entrances. It produced house coal for the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Company Limited from c1888 to the 1920’s. It consisted of two 32 yard deep shafts that were 11 feet in diameter. One was used for winding coal and the other one for pumping up excess water. Ventilation was by a furnace at the bottom of another shaft that was 600 yards to the north of this mine. It produced up to 20,000 cubic feet of air per minute.
It was originally spelled Gwraig Vawr, it produced 38,146 tons of coal in 1893, employed 87 men underground and 10 men on the surface in 1896, were managed by Thomas Jones in 1908, and employed 184 men in 1913 to 1919. In 1923 it employed 85 men working underground and 10 men working at the surface of the mine. It was managed by William Moore in 1913/5, E. Broakes in 1916 and J. Weale in 1919/23. It was worked on the pillar and stall method which gave an extraction rate of 70%. This company was a member of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association.
This was a level on the opposite side of the valley to Marine Colliery. It produced house, gas, and manufacturing coals from the Brithdir (Red Ash or Tillery) seam. A Llanydaval was listed in 1865 as being owned by Russell, Rees & Company and it was owned in 1878 by the Monmouthshire and Cwm Colliery Company when it was managed by J. Stanfield and in 1882 by the Monmouthshire Coal and Coke Company. In 1907/8 it was managed by Benjamin Nicholas and owned by James and Emmanuel of Dock Street, Newport, and employed 87 men underground and 14 men on the surface, they employed 66 men at this level in 1913/16 and 31 men underground and 9 men on the surface in 1918 when the manager was still Benjamin Nicholas. In 1920 it employed 66 men with Mr. Nicholas still the manager. This company was not a member of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association. Ownership had been transferred to the Boulton Brothers in 1923, W.A. Boulton and Company in 1925 and to E.H. Bennett in 1926. In 1930 it employed 40 men working underground and 7 men working at the surface of the mine with Joseph John as the manager. This colliery had reached its eastern boundary by 1890, its southern boundary by 1899, the south eastern boundary by 1902, there were northerly workings as early as 1870 and as late as 1913. There were no workings towards the west. It appears to have ceased production in 1932 and by 1935 it was worked in conjunction with the Cwm levels, with them employing 6 men on the surface and 30 men underground, it was then still owned by E.H. Bennett and Company of Cambrian Buildings, Cardiff. The directors of this company were; E.W.C. Bennett, A.S. Bennett, W.A. Phillips, C.P. Hailey and G. Hooper. It had been closed by Nationalisation in 1947.
We would like to thank Mr Ray Lawrence for providing the above information and photographs.
Ray Lawrence, was born in Cwmcarn, and was the third generation of miners in his family. He worked for twenty-five years at the Celynen South Colliery, Abercarn, until its closure in 1985.
He was the National Union of Mineworkers, Lodge Secretary at that colliery for fourteen years, and served for three years on the South Wales Area Executive Council of the NUM. He took an active part in the 1984/85 miners' strike.
He retired from the probation service in 2009, and, in the words of Hywel Francis, MP, turned from helping make history to recording it. His books have been used as presentations to such dignitaries as the head of the European Union, and the Prime Minister of the day, by the Coalfield Communities Campaign, and are highly regarded by other authors, and libraries, such as the South Wales Miners' Library, as reference works. He obtained a BSc degree from part-time study with the Open University while he was in his 60's.