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Industrial Heritage

Coal mining in the area possibly began with the Romans, but certainly the monks of Margam Abbey were mining by the 13th Century. The rush for 'Black Gold', however, truly started with the Industrial Revolution.

Wyndam Miners

Wyndam Miners (All pictures courtesy of Bridgend Libraries)

The first commercial coal mining operations in the Bridgend area began in the 1770s and they grew rapidly in the 1820s. The Lynfi, Ogmore and Garw valleys North of Bridgend were the absolute centre of the South Wales coalfield. At the industry's peak there were 70 mines in the Bridgend area as the valleys were transformed from rural sheep farming areas into industrial communities. People flocked in to the valleys to work and to accommodate them long rows of houses were built by the "Coal-owners". Today these cottages are symbols of the South Wales coal mining industry.  

DS1 Evanstown Provided By Wyndam Jones , Evanstown And Gilfach Goch History Society

Landscape picture of Evanstown approx 1900s.

Some of the most famous and long-lived pits in South Wales were based here. The Wyndham Colliery, the last mine in the Ogmore Valley, sunk in 1865 and closed in 1983. St. John's mine was sunk in 1908 and closed in 1985, which was the last deep mine in the Llynfi Valley.

RAILWAY LINE

The dangers of mining are well documented and the Bridgend mines had their share of tragedy. On 26th August 1892 there was an explosion at Parc Slip Colliery, situated at Aberkenfig, which resulted in the loss of 112 lives.

The Bridgend area was also rich in iron-ore and clay and ironworks were established in the same period as the mines. Birmingham industrialist John Bedford built a blast furnace at  Cefn Cribwr Ironworks in 1780 and Tondu Ironworks - today the best preserved Victorian ironworks in Wales- was built by Sir Robert Price. 

From the 1950s the mining industry went into irreversible decline and following the Miners' Strike of 1984-85 there were no longer any working pits in the valleys north of Bridgend. Factories such as Rexel in Llangeinor in newly developed industrial estates provided jobs for some of those left unemployed by the decline in the Welsh coal industry, while today little remains of the mines and slag heaps that were once a backdrop to the valleys. In their place lakes, parks and nature reserves have been created which have restored the landscape to its pre-industrial glory. 

 Miners Strike

Caerau during Miners lockout, 1926

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