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Gower

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Vol. 32, 1981

Two Swansea collieries: Cefngyfelach and Tirdonkin.

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can still be seen for the most part. Development of the new colliery then
seems to have come to a halt for some reason, since it was not until
eighteen months later that any further progress is recorded. On 7th
December 1901 a ceremony was held to mark the beginning of sinking the
new colliery in the woods of Penllergaer behind Tirdwncyn Farm. There
were to be two shafts, an upcast and a downcast, and the first sods were
cut by Captain Charles Llewelyn, the son of Sir John Dillwyn-Llewelyn,
and by Sir John's youngest daughter, Gladys. The two pits were named
Charles Pit and Gladys Pit in their honour. They were to be 15 ft. in
diameter and to go down to a depth of about 300 or 350 yards.
The coal that was to be worked from the colliery was about the only
substantial reserve left in the Swansea area and slotted between the
Vivians' Mynydd Newydd taking and the Glasbrooks' Garngoch. It was
estimated that there were 20 million tons waiting to be extracted. Jenkins
had taken an initial lease of 600 acres from Sir John Dillwyn-Llewelyn,
which was later to be extended to 1050 acres in 1909 and again to 1450 in
1912, and he had invested about £ 40,000 in the undertaking. The annual
rent was to be £ 3,000, with an additional royalty of 8d, per ton on coal
and 3d. per ton on fireclay. The choice of site appears to have been
imposed on him by Dillwyn-Llewelyn who wanted the pit to be in the
Tirdwncyn basin so that the pithead gear was not visible from Penllergaer
House. Jenkins' original idea had been to sink at Bryntywod, about half a
mile to the north-east. In fact altogether the provisions of the lease were
regarded as being very strict.
For the next few years steady, if unspectacular, progress was made.
Work was concentrated on the Gladys Pit at first and on 6th September
1903 the 5 ft. seam was struck, after what was described as a very difficult
boring, at about 450 ft. below the surface. In June 1904 the 5 ft. seam was
struck in the Charles Pit, and sinking continued in both shafts towards
the 5 ft. seam which was reached in September 1905 in the Charles Pit, at
a depth of 865 ft., but not until January 1908 in the Gladys Pit.
Ultimately the Gladys Pit was to be 930 ft. deep and the Charles 921 ft.
These depths correspond fairly closely to the 300-350 yards (900-1050 ft.)
which was anticipated when sinking began.
Once the first productive seam, the 5 ft., had been reached in the
Gladys Pit in September 1903, arrangements were embarked upon for
extracting the coal on a commercial basis. The special rules governing the
working of the pit were signed on 10th May 1904, and at about the same
time a pair of horizontal winding engines was ordered from the
Kilmarnock engineering firm of Andrew Barclay. Also, in the latter part
of 1903, the name of the company was changed from the Cefn Gyfelach
Colliery Company to the Tirdonkin Collieries Company (TCC) to
reflect the shift in the relative importance of the two collieries now that
Tirdonkin was beginning to yield.
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