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South Wales Coalfield Timeline

Red Line

Further Reading

1800 – Development of the sale-coal industry in South Wales

1837 – Opening of Abernant Colliery – growth of the Cynon Valley in sale-coal industry

1840 – 1st cargo of coal shipped abroad, from Cardiff to Nantes

1842 – Children’s Employment Commission investigates child labour - Mines Act passed by Parliament, no women or boys under 10 to work underground

1851 – Admiralty Report – South Wales steam coal most suitable for use by the Royal Navy. Rapid expansion in the South Wales steam coal industry

1855 – 1st train of Rhondda steam coal sent to Cardiff from Treherbert. Beginning of the rise of Rhondda as major coalmining valley

1855 – Limited Liability Companies replace individuals in ownership of coal industry

1864 – Creation of the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company, Ltd

1866 – Formation of the South Wales Bituminous Collieries Association

1868 – Radical Noncomformist Liberals win many Parliamentary seats in Wales – beginning Liberal domination in Welsh politics

1870 – Longwall replaces pillar and stall as the main mining technique

1871 – Amalgamated Association of Miners become the strongest trades union yet among South Wales Miners

1873 South Wales Coalowners Association formed

1875 – Sliding Scale Committee set up to determine wage levels of South Wales Miners

1880 – Development of anthracite mining to the west of the coalfield

1880- Spread of Miners’ Welfare Halls, Institutes and Libraries

1885 William Abraham (Mabon), miners’ leader, elected to Parliament for the new seat of Rhondda

1898 – Miners defeated in the six months lock-out

1898 South Wales Miners' Federation formed

1899 – 40 million tons of coal produced

1900 – First Labour M.P. from Wales, Keir Hardie, elected to Parliament for Merthyr Tydfil

1900 – Spread of Coal Combines in the South Wales coalfield

1905 – 43 million tons of coal produced

1908 – The South Wales Miners' Federation (The Fed) affiliated to the Labour Party

1908 – Eight Hours Bill becomes law as the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1908

1908 – 55 millions tons of coal produced

1909 – Spread of working class education in South Wales

1910 Tonypandy “Riots”

1912 – The Great Strike of 1912

1912 – Minimum Wage Act

1913 – Peak of production and manpower: 56 million tons of coal produced, 232,800 men employed

1913 – Senghenydd disaster – 439 men and boys killed in pit accident

1915 – Wage agreement ends South Wales Miners’ strike

1916 – The government takes control of the South Wales Coalfield

1919 – Royal Commission on Coal Industry makes recommendation to nationalise the industry

1921 – Coal Industry re-privatised. Production ceases during lock-out, but miners defeated and accept reduction in wages

1926 – The General Strike

1927 – South Wales miners join hunger march against unemployment

1928 – South Wales and the coalfield severely affected by industrial depression

1930 – Unemployment at its highest

1931 – Coalfield dispute: 140,000 out of work

1934 – Power struggle between South Wales Miners' Federation and Company Unionism

1936 Spanish Civil War: 118 men from the South Wales coalfield enlist in the International Brigades; 34 are killed

1944 – Formation of the National Union of Mineworkers

1947 – Nationalisation of the mining industry, creation of the National Coal Board

1955 – Programme of pit closures begins in South Wales

1966 – Tip slide at Aberfan claims the lives of 144 children and adults

1972 National miners’ strike

1984/85 National miners’ strike

1985 – Beginning of the mass closure of collieries

1994 – Closure of Tower Colliery, the last deep-mine in South Wales

1995 – Workers return to Tower Colliery after a successful employee buyout bid: 200 miners become shareholders in the new company, Tower Colliery Ltd

Further Reading

©University of Wales Swansea 2002


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