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Ystradgynlais
Mining for coal in Victorian times
 
  The new demands of industry
 

Coal had been dug in the Upper Swansea Valley district for hundreds of years. It was used for lime burning for agricultural use and also for heating the homes of local people.
The early mines were mostly cut into hillsides, called drifts, rather than sunk downwards, because this coal was much easier to reach.

 

Main coal
workings
around
Ystradgynlais

Sketch map of some
of the main coalmine workings in the Ystradgynlais area
during the Victorian period.

Map showing mine locations
Part of 1877 map
 

It was known that there were large deposits of iron ore, coal and limestone in the Tawe Valley which had hardly been touched by the end of the 18th century.
The Swansea Canal, which ran alongside the River Tawe, was completed in 1798 to take advantage of these and to provide a link with the river wharves and ships at Swansea.
By the start of the Victorian age in 1837 the canal was carrying very large amounts of anthracite southwards to Swansea from the collieries around Ystradgynlais. Short 'branch line' canals had also been built to connect the main canal with the ironworks at Ynscedwyn and Ystalyfera.
The canal provided a very good service for the mining and manufacturing companies in the district over many years.

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For more about the
Swansea Canal
click here.
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