This page is dedicated to those Men Women and Children who worked in the bowels of the earth to fuel this countries industrial revolution and its prosperity.
Coal Mining in Bryn
From the OS maps of the last century, it is clear that Bryn was honeycombed with coal resources. Some of these were in the form of outcrops; it is likely that farmers would pick these for domestic use, although such pickings belonged to the landowner and not the farmer tenant. Monks from Margam Abbey were exploiting coal resources in or near Bryn about the year 1250, although coal mining in Bryn did not operate on any scale until the 18th century.Expansion of industry around Port Talbot led to the copper miners' foundry at Cwmavon to extend their operations to Bryn soon after 1841 where the kind of coal for copper smelting was still abundant in Bryn but becoming scarcer in the Afan valley. The location is not certain, though the first Vicar of St Theodore's Church 'D J Jones' refers to the site as Drysiog Farm.In order to move this vast amount of coal to the copper works, a mineral railway (Dram Road) was constructed. The bed of the railway can still be traced by turning at the Carmel church and following the line adjacent to Bryngurnos Street and along the B4282 towards Cwmavon.
With no shops in Bryn at this time locals recount the miners wives having permission to ride the drams once a week to get provisions at Cwmavon before returning once more on the drams. It was not until the 1920s that the main road was constructed from Port Talbot to Bryn and then Maesteg. As can be seen by the document on the left, this would be a very dangerous means of transport and it would seem that it later became frowned upon by management of the copper works as they issued a warning against this mode of transport as seen in this recently uncovered document.Note the bottom paragraph. The production of coal in the village caused an expansion in housing with a population in the 1841 census of 111 to a population of 558 in 1851. To provide for the increase the collieries instigated a housing program with 15 dwellings in 1841 rising to 96 in 1851. The familiar street names Bryn farm cottages, Buck Row, Yard Row, and Farteg Row appeared, and so did a street called Wain Row, which transformed into Cross Row and Meadow Row.
||No of Dwellings
The Downward slope of the economic activity in Bryn towards the end of the 19th century can be gauged from a comparison of the maps of 1876 and 1900; the 1876 map shows a high point in job prospects with the following mines in operation.
Bryngurnos Colliery (Drift mine) Bryn colliery (A level) Drysiog ( 3 levels) Bryntroedygarn ( 2 levels)
By 1900, the position had clearly declined. Bryngurnos colliery and Bryn colliery are described as 'disused' and the Drysiog and Bryntroedygarn described as 'old levels'. On the plus side a new coalmine above meadow row brought many jobs.
Bryn Navigation Collieries Co. began sinking their colliery in the mid 1890's. The coal tip above Meadow row was called 'Amy', some say its named after 'Amy Johnson' the first women aviator to fly solo from England to Australia others say its named after one of the machines there. Later the owners were listed as Messrs Baldwin's Ltd. then Thomas Richard & Baldwin's Ltd. In 1908, there were 380 men employed, producing house, and manufacturing coal. By 1918, the workforce had grown to 650. From a list in 1923, there were 683 men employed, producing from the Middle and Lower seams. Later a drift was driven to become the main conveyance. In 1945 there were 615 men employed here. At its peak, annual production was 96,000 tons. It closed in 1964. (Partly taken from Wikipedia Site).
Further investigation recently by Dave Clarke MBE, Mining information Officer for The Coal Authority has uncovered three plans for abandoned mines indexed as "Drysiog Mine", these being numbers PLANS, 16, 5856 and SW.295. Examination of these gives the following information;-
PLAN No.16 This Mine worked the Blackband Seam before being abandoned in April 1873. The Owners at the time of abandonment were The Governor and Company of Copper Miners in England whose address at that time was Cwm-Avon Works, Tibach.
Plan No.5856 This plan shows workings in the White Seam which were abandoned on the 30th May 1912 due to being unprofitable. The Owners at the time of abandonment were given as Parc-y-Bryn Colliery Company of Station Road, Port Talbot.The plan is signed by Philip T.Jenkins, Owner and Surveyor.
PLAN No. SW.295 This plan shows workings in the Tormynydd Seam and on the plan it is stated that the workings were re-opened in May 1952 (note this seam had previously been worked between 1923 and 19th September 1924 as the Parc-y-Bryn Colliery). Working ceased on 16th July 1957 and the mine was finally abandoned in September 1957 due to it being uneconomic. The Owners at the time of abandonment were The Drysiog Colliery Company but the Guide to the Coalfields for the years 1952 and 1953 give the then owner as a J.W.Heycock. Unfortunately,these editions give no indication of manpower but the 1957 edition list the workforce as 4. The plan is signed by John Perry Bevan (Director) and Gomer Hughes (Surveyor).
Further mining took place at Ton-Hir colliery, situated on the mountain between Bryn and Maesteg to the left of the forestry road opposite the Maesteg Golf Club. Ton Hir was started by Harry Walters in 1902 and in 1905 he formed the Ton Hir Colliery Company, in 1908 it was managed by Jenkin J. Morris, they employed 90 men underground and 12 on the surface .
In 1913 the workforce totalled 144 and the following year the manpower reached its peak at 160. They produced house and manufacturing coals from the Pentre Rider Seam which was known locally as the two and a half seam due to it being an average of 750mm thick, 2 ½ feet in old money. It closed in 1918, when there were 97 men working underground and 21 on the surface, the manager at this time was H. Walters. Its plant and material was sold the following year.
There are plans to build a monument to commemorate the miners who worked and died in the coal industry in Bryn, Further investigation is in hand to find a suitable site and memorial. Further information will be posted when available.
Layout of Bryn Colliery (you will need to use your Zoom feature on browser)
DJ Rosser,D Evans,G James(instructor),E Davies,J Marston(Capt),JE Lewis.