Cilybebyll nr Rhos
This small pit works coal under a very steep hillside above the
banks of the river Tawe in Cilybebyll near Rhos. When German mines
photographer, Thomas Imgrund visited the area for the second time
in 2001, he found Gleision to be one of just four examples Welsh
small mines. Whereas in 1992 there were around 85 of these amazing
pits operating, there were only nineteen by 1997 and into 2003.
Only three of these mines - Gleision, Nant Hir, and Blaentillery
No.2, have somehow managed to survive.
There is a sketchy document which talks of a Gleision Colliery
in Godre'graig on an NUM organisation website. This was dated
1962, but I am not sure whether it exactly the same mine.
However, the present site was certainly in production by 1980
and seems to have worked continuously ever since.
Access is by two arch girder drifts. The main drift provides the
rail connection, drainage, ventilation and access for the miners.
The second is not rail connected and is at right angles to the main
drift. It is used for emergency egress only. They utilise a 2' gauge
rail system, powered by a diesel haulage engine. Hand tramming is
also used to move trams from the drift mouth to the two tipplers.
Surface installations consist of a generator, mess hut, and haulage
engine house, stores, coal screen and loading bay, and several old
Following the main drift further inbye, the roadways are
timber supported, and lead to the current workings, deep under
the hillside. They work a modified pillar and stall system
in the 2'6" Ynisarwed seam, and the coal face workers
must work kneeling or laying down. The coal is cut by drilling
and blasting within a stall and removing the fractured coal
with picks. It is then hand filled by the miners onto a panzer
converyor running down the back of the face, which takes it
to the loading point in the main gate.
Here, another miner controls the conveyors' flow into a journey
of drams. When a journey of six drams is full, it is hauled from
the mine and the coal processed on the surface, and the drams let
back down to be refilled.
Manpower & Production
In 2001, there were about seven men at Gleisoion, including the
mine owner who himself worked underground. It is a safety lamp mine
with sever water problems which require the use of a powerful sump
pump. The combined problems of water and gas can cause disruption
to production and development. Production was about 200 tonnes per
|We do not have access to a formal reserves statement
for Gleision. The colliery owner is finding it difficult to
hire fifteen tonne lorries for road haulage, which make six
journeys to the pit every day. He recently applied for permission
to change his haulage arrangements to twenty tonne lorries,
making three trips per day, but this was refused. The fact that
the colliery has managed to survive the almost complete destruction
of the S.Wales small mines industry must surely mean that the
pit is currently in a sound economic situation.
(The photographs used to illustrate this article were all taken
using intrinsically safe equipment)
All photographs on this page © Thomas