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This month Amgueddfa Cymru was able to acquire this model coal dram. It is a scale replica of a ‘Patent Cambrian Tram’ invented by H.H. Evans and R. Evans in 1931. One of the patentees, H.H. Evans, was General Manager for Welsh Associated Collieries Ltd., Llwynypia, and we know quite a lot about his life.

Henry H. Evans was born on 28th April 1865 in 15 Windsor St., Aberdare. He started work as a colliers’ boy at 12 years of age at Bwllfa Colliery, Aberdare. In 1880 the family moved to Maerdy in the Rhondda Fach and Henry continued his career as a collier in Maerdy Colliery until 1884 when he was articled to Mr Rees Llewelyn, Mining Engineer, Aberdare. His training was cut short by the death of his father, Mr John Evans a colliery official, in the Maerdy Colliery explosion of 1885 when he became the family’s bread winner. He began to attend the first mining night school in Aberdare about this time, walking over the mountain from Maerdy to Aberdare for the lessons. At twenty four he gained his 2nd class certificate of competency and became the under manager of Gelli Nos. 2 and 3 Pits where he remained for several years. He later returned to Maerdy Colliery as under manager.

He became manager of Bwllfa Colliery, Aberdare in 1894 where he remained for 18 years until he became the Agent for Albion Collieries in 1912. In 1910 he received the Edward Medal for bravery for saving the life of Mr John Isaac, a colliery repairer who had been trapped under a fall of roof. The museum hold in its collections this oil painting dating from 1929, which shows H.H. Evans wearing his Edward Medal.

By January 25th 1932, he had become general manager of the Cambrian Combine and lead a team of volunteers following the explosion in Llwynypia Colliery. He was 67 years old at the time and stayed down the pit until the last victim had been found. Eleven men were killed including two rescuers.

The Mines Inspector’s report was rather scathing about the rescue attempt – “In reference to the rescue operations, in the cold light of events it must be said that they were conducted with greater valour than discretion, for even when men from the Porth Rescue Station equipped with breathing apparatus were engaged in J. Alsop’s face, officials not so equipped, including the General Manager (Mr. H.H. Evans), the Agent (Mr. R. Lloyd) and the Manager (Mr. J. Whitticombe), were engaged in Prior’s and Brown’s. They had with them a canary but appear to have had more regard for its life than for their own, with the result that one of their party, John Evans, Overman, was overcome by afterdamp and died.”

He died on May 2nd 1936 only a few weeks after being elected Chairman of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coalowners’ Association. He was buried in Aberdare Cemetery.

This Mines Rescue Service figure is seen wearing full rescue gear. These were produced for presentation by the UK Mines Rescue Service and usually awarded for 20 years’ service. There is a space at front for a presentation plaque to be attached. This example was given to the donor (who was a firefighter) after undertaking a Breathing Apparatus course with the Mines Rescue Service.

This month we were donated a copy of the original design for the Lesbians & Gay Men Support the Miners Group from 1984, along with a 30th anniversary badge manufactured in 2014. The events from 1984/85 were recently depicted in the film ‘Pride’. This donation coincided with staff from Amgueddfa Cymru attending Pride Cymru this month.

Finally, the photograph below shows the S.S. PENDEEN off Swansea on 28 March 1914. The S.S. PENDEEN was built by Gray's of West Hartlepool in 1898 for the Chellew Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. of Truro, a firm set up in the early 1880s by Richard Berryman Chellew of that town. She was employed in the classic 'coal out, grain home' trade of that era, loading coal in south Wales for the Mediterranean and returning with cereals from various Black Sea ports. Holed up in the Baltic for much of 1st World War, she was sold to a Greek company in 1922 and wrecked off the Tunisian coast six years later.

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

Open Doors is an event organised by Cadw (the Welsh Government’s historic environment service). The idea behind the event is to offer people the opportunity to visit a variety of sites important to the culture and history of Wales. The highlight of the event is the opportunity to visit places that are not normally, or are infrequently, open to the public.

The National Collections Centre, Nantgarw, is part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, and houses thousands of interesting and important objects that are not on display. Although not normally open to the general public we have always offered access to researchers, and also to various groups and societies. Staff at the National Collections Centre have always seen the importance of opening up the site to allow visitors access to view some of these objects and to see the work that is carried out by staff on site.

We are always looking for new ways to get visitors on site, to encourage people to learn about what we do, and provide more access to the collections in store. Therefore this year at one of our site meetings we decided that we would get involved in Open Doors. We will therefore be open as part of Open Doors on Wednesay 30th September 2015, and will be running tours at 10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 2.00 and 3.00. Each tour will last about 45 minutes and visitors will be able to take a closer look at some of the collections held on site. One of the highlights of the tour will be the chance to see the transport collection of bicycles, motorbikes, cars (including three examples of the Welsh manufactured Gilbern car), buses and even an air sea rescue helicopter.

Booking is essential for these tours. Please ring us on 029 2057 3560 or 029 2057 3583 to book a place, or find out further information. You can also email us on industry@museumwales.ac.uk

Further details can be found on the Cadw website, as well as details of all other places open as part of Open Doors.

We hope as many people as possible will be able to enjoy the tours and be able to see some of the amazing objects preserved by Amgueddfa Cymru for the people of Wales.

In July we were very fortunate to acquire this silver salver/tray. It was presented to H.W. Lewis for his heroism during the Tynewydd Colliery inundation. Henry Lewis was the Manager of Energlyn Colliery (near Caerphilly), and he was also awarded the Albert Medal, 2nd Class for his bravery during the same disaster. The disaster occurred on the 11th April 1877 and further information can be found in this article. A collection of objects relating to the Tynewydd inundation, can be seen in a display on coal mining disasters at Big Pit: National Mining Museum.

Amgueddfa Cymru has another very similar tray in the collection presented to Thomas William Parry. Both trays were manufactured by Henry Holland (of Holland, Aldwinckle & Slater) of London.

Recently donated, this memorial card was produced "In sad Remembrance of 264 men and boys who were killed in the Prince of Wales Pit, Abercarne, by an explosion, on Wednesday, September 11th, 1878."

The underground fires caused by this massive explosion resulted in the deaths of at least 264 people although the exact death toll is not known. To put out the fire the difficult decision was made to flood the mine with water from the Monmouthshire Canal. It took two months and 35 million gallons of water to put out the fire. This water had to then be pumped out before the victims could be recovered. The photograph below was taken by Thomas Forrest of Pontypridd around the time of the disaster in 1878.

This Clanny flame safety lamp was destroyed during the explosion of 11th September 1878. A very emotional reminder of the disaster, it would have belonged to one of the victims. The glass shield has cracked and melted in the heat. This objects has been part of the collections since 1936.

Talygarn House, Pontyclun, South Wales, was a large stone mansion that became a hospital in 1880. In October 1923, it was opened as a miners' convalescent home and in the first 15 years of its opening had more than 41,000 patients. The house was eventually put up for sale in 2000, and has recently been converted into luxury homes. You can read more about Talygarn in this article. The two photographs below were donated this month and show miners at Talygarn.

Morris Castle was built between 1768 and 1774 to house the families of workers employed by Sir John Morris (mainly at his Landore copper works). It is on an elevated position overlooking the surrounding area. It originally comprised of four towers, each four stories tall, connected by blocks three stories tall, around a central courtyard. Both the towers and linking walls were crowned with mock battlements made from copper slag. The building was occupied until about 1850. It is now just a ruin, owned by Swansea City Council and is a listed monument. These photographs were taken in March 1969, and have been added to the collection this month.

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

Recently working through the John Dillwyn Llewelyn collection, I was reminded of this amazing photograph of Swansea taken in 1858. The image was taken on the 15 March 1858 at 1 o'clock with an exposure of 15 minutes. It was taken by Welsh photographer John Dillwyn Llewelyn using a ground breaking process invented by him in 1856 called the Oxymel process. This was a development of the wet collodion process and used a solution of acetic acid, water & honey to preserve images. This meant that glass negatives could be prepared in advance and exposed in the camera as required, and produced a dry plate that could be kept for days. This new process meant landscape photographers no longer needed to carry with them portable laboratories and darkroom tents.

The photograph shows Swansea taken from St. Thomas on the 15 March 1858. To the far left, above the roofline, Mumbles Head can just about be made out. In the background (slightly to the right) can be seen the North Dock with buildings around it, and sailing ships in the dock. In front of that is the railway embankment alongside the New Cut of the river Tawe. In the foreground can be seen a number of houses, including the 'White Lion Inn', and to the far right it is just about possible to make out the remains of Swansea Castle.

I thought that it would be interesting to try and identify the viewpoint from where this photograph was taken and to see how the view might have changed since 1858. I therefore contacted my colleague Andrew Deathe at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea to see if his knowledge of the area would allow him to identify the viewpoint.

Living locally Andrew was able to take this modern view in May 2015. He took the photograph by standing on the road which is in the foreground of the 1858 image, which is called Bay View, in St. Thomas. The house in the original image is just behind his viewpoint. John Dillwyn Llewelyn seemed to be standing half way between Bay View and Windmill Terrace (which wasn't built for another 20 years).

The skyline of Swansea has seen many changes over the years and it is difficult to tell that the two images are taken from the same viewpoint. However it is still possible to make out Mumbles Head to the left and part of Swansea Castle to the right. The railway embankment has been completely removed, and there is no trace or it or the tunnel today. In place of the old North Dock buildings, you can see the glass pyramid of Plantasia. The tower of St. Mary's church can't be seen unfortunately, as it is behind the BT Tower.

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

This sculpture donated this month is titled “Welsh Anthracite Collier”. The original was created by George Brinley Evans in 1963, and this version was cast in bronze by Mark Halliday in 2012.

George Brinley Evans worked at Onllwyn Colliery and, as an artist, the material he most often used was household emulsion and watercolour on cheap paper. He recorded miners' working methods and technical expertise and resilience in the face of danger. After losing an eye in a mining accident in 1961, he turned to modelling figurines of his workmates and national heroes, using cheap and alternative material, usually a wire armature covered in layers of old nylon stockings soaked in plaster, which is then teased into shape and sprayed with car paint. This sculpture was created in the same way, with this version cast in bronze. It has then been sprayed black by the artist. The pose looks unnatural, but the artist is depicting the awkwardness of men mining in small spaces.

More examples of his work can be seen here, on the ‘Images of Industry’ online database. His work “Aros am Golau” is on display in the galleries at Big Pit: National Mining Museum.

17th May 2015 was the 50th anniversary of the Cambrian Colliery explosion. The explosion, caused by firedamp, claimed 31 lives, the youngest victim being only 24 years old. This images shows the front cover of the programme for the 50th anniversary memorial service. This programme along with a souvenir publication "The Old Timer" released to mark the 50th anniversary was donated at the end of May.

These two photographs show Cambrian Colliery. The black and white one was taken from the south east in 1960. The colour photograph was taken a few years after the explosion in April 1967.

Amgueddfa Cymru has recently produced an edition of our ‘Glo’ magazine to commemorate this disaster. A copy can be downloaded here

This was not the first disaster at this colliery. On 10 March 1905 an explosion at Cambrian Colliery No. 1 resulted in the death of 33 men.

This badge inscribed ‘Rhymney Valley Support Group’ was produced during the 1984-85 coal strike. Donated recently it adds to an important collection of strike badges held by Amgueddfa Cymru. Many of these strike badges can be seen on display at Big Pit: National Mining Museum.

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW