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Colliery history



After several earlier attempts at sinking the shaft had failed Cefn Coed Colliery was successfully opened by the Amalgamated Anthracite Company in 1930. It took 4 years to reach the coal because of a very thick layer of blue pennant sandstone. By the time coal was first raised in 1930 Cefn Coed was the deepest anthracite mine in the world - almost half a mile down (687 metres).

The Sinking of Cefn Coed


But it would be a further 3 years before the colliery was fully operational. After the shafts were sunk there was a myriad of other work to be carried out before the mine would be fully functional. Underground roadways would have to be constructed, transport facilities like the winding engine to winch drams to pit bottom, compresses air line for powering tools.

Pumps were required to pump water out of the mine and miles of pipe lines to bring the water to the surface. Stalls had to be opened so colliers could cut coal, stables created at the pit bottom for the pit ponies. Because of this when the colliery began production output could not keep pace with the demand of anthracite coal from Canada – it only cost seven shillings per ton to ship coal to Montreal in Canada but 11 shillings and ninepence to London!

Group of Cefn Coed Miners, 1930
Cefn Coed Colliery, c.1930


Five seams were worked at various times the deepest being the ‘peacock’ seam, so called because the coal had a beautiful blue/green sheen like a peacock’s feathers. The type of coal that was mined at Cefn Coed was called anthracite, a hard coal with a high carbon content which made it burn very efficiently.

An advert by the Amalgamated Anthracite Company reads:


Don’t burn money BURN ANTHRACITE. Anthracite is the cheapest form of heating available. An anthracite fire will burn continuously day and night at a cost of less than 4d per day’

Anthracite coal was sold in a variety of sizes: peas for open grates, nuts for boilers and cobbles for stoves. Coal was used in the home and by industry e.g.. Power stations and exported.


Miners had to pay for their own tools such as a pick, shovel, mandrel, working clothes and boots. The great depth at which the colliers worked caused problems of intense heat and they would often complain that by mealtime the cheese in their sandwiches had melted like butter. The depth caused other problems and accidents such as roof falls were so common that the colliery soon became nicknamed the ‘slaughterhouse’.


Amalgamated Anthracite Company continued to operate the colliery until nationalization in 1947. But the depth of the colliery meant that eventually the cost of keeping the roadways open underground took their toll and by the 1960’s the colliery was employing more men to maintain the colliery than colliers themselves and as a result and the colliery finally closed in 1968. Many of the men transferred to the adjacent drift mine of Blaenant.

The Museum was opened in 1986 on the site of Cefn Coed using some of the original buildings.

Blaenant Colliery
Cefn Coed Museum


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