The town grew around the coal mining industry, but all the local pits have closed. Treorchy was, for many years, a town that relied on the coal mines such as Abergorki, Tylecoch (closed in 1895) and Dare collieries. Park
All of the collieries had closed by the end of the 1970s, leaving many to find new work. Treorchy became a commuter village, with the working population seeking employment in the larger towns and cities that surround it, such as Cardiff and Bridgend. The work in Treorchy now is mostly retail.
Abergorki. Situated near Treorchy this steam coal colliery was sunk in 1865 by George Insole & Son Ltd. During 1874 it was deepened by the new owners Burnyeat Brown and Co. From the Inspector of Mines 1896 list, there was a workforce of 790 men employed here. Also mentioned in this list is Abergorki level under the same ownership as the above and employing a total of 14 men.In 1908 there were 2,278 men employed at Abergorki Nos. 1, 2 and 3 pits and 40 men at the level. From another list dated 1918, there were 1,770 employed. Later the Ocean Coal Company took over the running of Abergorki and by 1920 the workforce had grown to 1,800. It was closed in 1938.
Dare. Sunk in 1866 by David Jones & Company. It was purchased by the Ocean Coal Co. in 1890 and employed 748 men & boys and produced more than 184,000 tons of coal per year. By 1896 it was employing some 1072 men. In 1918 there were 1,005 employed and by 1938 only 710. In 1935 it became part of Powell Dyffryn Associated Collieries Ltd. and in October of that year the men hit upon a new tactic to fight against scab unionism - the stay down strike. In 1945 there were 1,014 men employed. It was amalgamated with the neighbouring Parc colliery in 1955, from then known as the Park and Dare colliery. The Park Dare closed in 1965.
Park. The pioneer of Cwmparc’s development was David Davies (industrialist), Llandinam described as, ‘foremost of Welsh industrial kings and founder of the renowned Ocean Coal Company’, who had in 1862 negotiated with Crawshay Bailey to commence coal mining on the Tremains Estate. Sinking operations were begun in August 1866 and by the end of that year Parc Pit had produced its first output of coal.
En.Dist.10. Treorchy. Part of the village of Treorchy, including Dumfries Street, Williams Row, Abergorky Huts, Tyladu, Cemetery Road, Glyncoli Road, Horeb Street, Chapel
Street and New Chapel Street.
Though in popular parlance the name Rhondda has become synonymous with the mining district, the Rhondda itself is a dual-pronged valley rising north of Pontypridd.
For more than a century, high quality, smokeless coal was extracted from the earth here. Collieries dotted the valleys, and tens of thousands of men made their livelihood cutting coal from the rich seams that ran from several feet to more than a quarter mile under the surface. This huge economic engine built the industrial port cities of Cardiff and Newport, and fueled the British navy from the later years of Victoria almost until the Second World War.
Life in the valleys has always been hard. During the winter, a collier never saw the sun except on Sunday, going into the pits before daybreak and emerging again after dark. Boys followed their fathers down in their early teens. With little cash and no modern conveniences, women made home and hearth for large families in two-room-up, two-room-down stone row-houses without garden or lawn. The mines yielded a death, on average, every six hours, and a serious injury every 12 minutes.
In Senghynydd at the head of the Aber Valley, local historian Basil Philips recounts the story of the deep pit explosion of 1913, when 434 men and boys in this village of less than 5,000 met their deaths in the greatest colliery disaster in British history. His own father was in the mine that day.
Philips tells how the mining communities were built. As a pit was sunk, it drew men off the land, swapping the bleak agrarian life in the hardscrabble Welsh hills for the steady cash wages of the mine. As hard as the life might have been, it was an enviable step up from subsistence farming.
Return to Evan Pugh, b1896