|Collieries of Wales|
Engineering & Architecture
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Collieries of Wales - Engineering and Architecture
By Stephen Hughes, Brian Malaws, Medwyn Parry & Peter Wakelin
From about the time of the 1984-85 miners' strike it became obvious that the coal industry was in a period of rapid contraction. However the accelerated decline of the Industry led the Royal Commission, through its liasion forum of the Welsh Industrial Archaeology Panel, to seek advice on what the immediate recording priorities should be. Subsequently the Royal Commission instituted a programme of work in the complementary areas of field recording and the safeguarding of original architectural and engineering drawings. This publication in intended to illustrate the campaign of work.
In the field the initial task was to photograph the collieries still operating, paying special attention to the installations highlighted as being of particular interest. At the same time Royal Commission staff attempted to establish what drawings already existed, and what gaps needed to be filled by new measured surveys of important installations. Alongside this work on the ground, the Royal Commission's aerial photographer was active in recording the large colliery complexes from the air. This allowed complete complexes to be clearly pictured in their context of transport, topography, settlement and spoil tips.
Two large sets of original Edwardian colliery design drawings were located at the technical headquarters of British Coal in Bretby, Derbyshire, and have been indexed at the Royal Commission, prior to being transferred to the Glamorgan Archives Service. Most other early colliery design drawings had disappeared before. However, British Coal and the Public Record Office helped facilitate the transfer of many thousands of microfilm copies of later engineering drawings of Bersham Colliery and many south Wales pits to the Royal Commission's National Monuments Record of Wales. Subsequently a similar exercise took place in England. Also at Bretby had been the extensive collection of design drawings from the Tredomen Engineering Works. Built to service the extensive Powell Duffryn Collieries, these Works had continued to supply British Coal until their closure in the latter 1980s. These drawings are now in safe storage at the National Library of Wales. Many architectural drawings of colliery baths and miners' houses were also transferred from British Coal to the Royal Commission and have now been rehoused in Gwent Record Office at Cwmbran.
A freelance photographer, John Cornwell, had amassed an invaluable archive recording Welsh coalmines underground. A substantial part of this collection was purchased from Mr. Cornwall and is available for public consultation alongside the other survey results in the Royal Commission's National Monuments Record of Wales. This complements British Coal's own photographic record of the south Wales pits; some, which had been copied from the former Group Headquarters at Tredomen are reproduced here.
The purpose of this publication is to portray the main surface elements of working Welsh collieries as they survived into the 1980s and 1990s - almost invariably multi-period complexes with structures adapted and re-adapted during successive rebuildings and enlargements. This book seeks to portray in simple terms the technology used in relation to these structues and buildings; and also to place them in a historical contect. It is hoped that others will be encouraged to explore in greater depth the archives which have been safeguarded and to interpret further the 'archaeology' of what was one of the most significant industries in the formation of modern Wales.
- The Planning and Design of Collieries
- Collieries Underground
- Colliery Headframes
- Winding Coal
- Water Pumping
- Mine Ventilation
- The Use of Compressed Air
- Preparation of Coal for Sale
- Workshops and Stores
- Colliery Offices
- Pithead Baths
- Surviving Colliery Machinery
- Gazetteer of Protected Colliery Sites
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