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Gleision Colliery

Cilybebyll nr Rhos
South Wales


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.

The Present

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 caravans.

The Workings

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 week.


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)
Alex Potts©2004
All photographs on this page © Thomas Imgrund



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