This section explores the development of the iron ore and coal mining industries, which were deeply linked to the Dowlais and Rhymney Iron Companies, with particular reference to the collieries, levels and drift mines associated with the village and its immediate environs.
I have concentrated on the mining activities in the Pantywaun, Cwmbargoed and Fochriw area and the information on same covers the period from the early 1800’s to the present time. The collieries and levels are covered from a northerly to southerly direction.
The Dowlais Papers, which are held in the Glamorgan Records Office in Cardiff, also make mention of the Brewhouse Level, Big Level Pit, Old Pit and Big Coal Level. Since I have not found sufficient information on these, I have not included them.
I have also provided below a very basic history of iron and coal in the local area which is intended as background information..
Coal has been mined in the area for over 700 years. One of the earliest references to coal mining occurs in the opening years of the fourteenth century as at Cefn Caerau in 1307. In the Tredegar Records, there is an interesting lease, which was signed on 10th December in 1654 and was an agreement between Sir William Lewis of Kilvach Bargoed and Meredith Richard for "one coale worke, situate in the parish of Kilthigare for 21 years at a rent of £3.5.0d. per annum, together with a couple of geese and a dozen chickens ".
In another early mining lease, Jeffrey Jeffreys and John Jeffreys, sons of the notorious Judge Jeffreys, as trustees for the Countess of Pembroke and Montgomery, granted to William Edwards of Eglwysilan on the 24th October, 1696, a lease of all coal veins "in the parish of Merthyr and in the parish of Kelligare from Dowlais to Nantybwch, and the heath Market (Waun) to the village of Kelligare ". The term was for a period of 77 years, the area approximately 2,000 acres, and the annual rent, 20s.
The lease appears to have been given up long before the expiration of the term for we find a new lease granted by Lord Viscount Windsor to Thomas Morgan of Ruperra, an ancestor of the Tredegar family, in May, 1748, for a term of 99 years. This lease also included the house known as Marchnad-y-Waun (situated at Twyn-y-Waun) and all the rental and tolls of the busy market of the Waun and the quarries of the Common. Part of these mineral rights were those leased in 1654 to Robert Morice of Kilfach Vargoed and they were now excepted out of the 1696 lease.
The lease was transferred in 1757, after only nine years, to an ancestor of the David Davies family, by whose representatives it was held until 1850. It was then assigned to a Rev. Thomas Lewis of Llansilian, Mon., and was transferred after two or three years to the aforementioned Lewis of the Van at Caerphilly.