Annual General Meeting: 25th October 2017 POSTPONED UNTIL NOVEMEBER.  Date to be announced here shortly.

AGM Notice

SCS Trustees Short Report and Accounts 2016-7

AGM 2016 Minutes

Master Accounts Canal Society 2017

SCS Trustees Annual Report 2016-7



Canals and Coals


Tareni Colliery, the Mine, the Miners

and their Communities


This publication has been researched and written by Swansea Canal Society member Clive Reed, who was one of the founding members of the society in the early 1980s and responsible for the restoration of the Swansea Canal between 1983 and 2005. He has made a study of the canal and the industries that developed along the canal corridor and of the urban development of the communities in the Swansea Valley. This publication partly follows on from that early research.

The Swansea Canal, for its time, was a very efficient transport network that was important to the development of many industries in the Swansea Valley and to the creation of urban settlements around those industries. Twenty-two colliery companies are identified in the Swansea Canal Toll Books 1798-1875 as using the Swansea Canal as a means of transport, in addition to other industries which used that coal, such as iron works, tinplate, copper, chemical works, zinc refiners, potteries, brick works, and a nickel refinery. As an example, and because of its nearness to the Tareni Colliery, the tolls paid by the Ynysgeinon Colliery are identified in the Tareni Colliery publication along with the tragic consequences of the close proximity of that mine to the later Tareni Colliery when water from the abandoned Ynysgeinon Mine broke into the Tareni Colliery workings resulting in several deaths of miners.


Among the larger coalmines using the Swansea Canal for transport was the Primrose Colliery at Alltwen, near Pontardawe, opened in 1840, and which later became The Primrose Coal Company in 1846. This mine had extensive coal wharves at Swansea for exporting its coal in addition to supplying industries in the Swansea Valley with that fuel. The Primrose Coal Company was expanded over the following years to include the Cwmnantllwyd Colliery, Waun Coed mine and colliery, Rees’ Drift, Gwyn;s Drift, and eventually Tareni Colliery.

The Primrose Colliery and the Cwmnantllwyd Colliery were both at an elevation of approximately 300 feet above the valley floor and the Swansea Canal at Pontardawe, and were connected to the canal by means of inclined tramroads. The latter mine used an ingenious system of a self-acting winding drum to lower the full trams of coal to the valley floor and to haul empty drams back up the hillside (these are described in detail in the publication).

The Primrose Colliery produced over 100,000 tons of coal between 1840 and 1860, all of it transported by Swansea Canal barges, whose carrying capacity was each twenty-two tons of cargo. The Swansea Canal carried over fifty million tons of coal between 1798 and 1930 in addition to large quantities of iron, copper, tinplate, pottery, bricks and numerous other products.

Tareni Colliery was the last mine sunk by The South Wales Primrose Coal Company Ltd, between 1902-1904, and which used the Midland Railway to transport its coal instead of the Swansea Canal. The coals mined at Tareni Colliery were anthracite coals, Red Vein, Big Vein and the celebrated Peacock Vein. Those coals were used extensively at the nearby Mond Nickel Refinery at Clydach because it required that high-grade coal in its production of nickel.

The publication Tareni Colliery is a technical, social, political and historical study of one coalmine and its parent company, and focuses on 100 years of coalmining in the parishes of Cilybebill and Llangiwg in the mid Swansea Valley and in the mountains of Mynydd Marchywel and Mynydd Alltygrug on either side of the River Tawe.

This is a new publication on coalmining in Wales (2016) and is the first complete history of a coalmine in the Swansea Valley region that discusses the technical and engineering aspects of coalmining, and the social and political lives of the miners and their families. The Pontardawe region at one time boasted over fifty collieries. The eleven chapters in this book cover the geology of the Swansea Valley region and the anthracite coalfield, and the creation of The South Wales Primrose Coal Company Ltd, which sank Tareni Colliery between 1902 and 1905.

The earlier chapters discuss how the pits were sunk and operated, and describe the different types of mine equipment and how it was used both below and above ground. The uses for anthracite coals in industry, agriculture and domestic markets are discussed; specifically those of the nickel refining processes at the nearby Mond Nickel Refinery at Clydach, whose parent Company eventually purchased Tareni Colliery in 1928. The markets for anthracite coals in Europe, Canada and the United States of America are outlined with their impact on the development of the anthracite coal industry in south Wales. The transport systems of canal, sea transport, rail and road used by the mines is discussed, some of which were innovative at the times they were in use.

Social issues are very well documented from reports in Llais Llafur, (the newspaper of the upper Swansea Valley region). They describe many bitter strikes that took place in the mining industry as Trade Unions attempted to unionise the workforce, and of the mine owners and the government’s response to those actions, which resulted in the notorious and vicious strike of 1911 that witnessed violence by the police forces on an unprecedented scale against the wives of striking coalminers and watching bystanders. That prolonged strike led to the local newspapers outlining its effects on the families of those locked out of work by identifying hundreds of starving schoolchildren who were unable to attend school because of under nourishment.

The many accidents and deaths caused by coalmining are described, along with the curse of ‘the dust’, the miners’ term for the silicosis and pneumoconiosis that damaged the health of thousands of coalminers in this region and which led to the untimely deaths of many of them.

Tareni Colliery took five years to research and put to paper and much has been taken from interviews of the few surviving miners that worked at Tareni Colliery and at the neighbouring mines, using their words and terminology. More came from interviews with widows of miners and children of miners, most of whom had already passed away. The Sale Catalogue for Tareni Colliery, dated 1928 identified all the equipment at the mine and also its manufacturers. This proved invaluable in writing this publication. The estate records housed at the West Glamorgan Archive Service at Swansea shed light on the two estates that owned the mountains under which lay the coal and other minerals such as fireclay and stone and identified the royalties payable on each seam of coal and mineral mined.

We are proud to have recorded for posterity the stories of those now elderly men, some of whom sadly passed away before this publication went into print, and of their wives and children and what some of them achieved in their communities. The book is hardback, 286 pages, sewn into the spine, and contains 197 images, the majority of them previously never seen outside of the owning families. Clive Reed is the author of this work, but my wife Lynne Gent is the technical genius behind the design work and the laying out of the images and chapters.

Mr Stephen Hughes, B.A, M.Phil., FSA., F.R. Hist.S. and Secretary-General of the International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage, said of Tareni Colliery, “Some of the explanation of types of coal I have found impossible to define from standard works elsewhere and for the anthracite coalfield of South-west Wales this is a very valuable source”, and “Craft skills and artisan practices, unknown from other sources, are made clear here”.


ISBN 978-1-5272-0129-3, price £30.00, p&p £4.95. Please add the following reference if ordering from this site: SCSTARENI





WRG 19.7 (2)

The Swansea Canal should be a premier visitor destination.

Swansea Canal Society is applying for Welsh Government funding to regenerate the canal between Clydach and Trebanos.

SCS volunteers are already repairing the historic structures along the waterway. If our application to the Rural Communities Development Fund is approved, contractors will dredge the water channel under the supervision of Canal & River Trust staff.

The dredging will be the next phase of our vision to regenerate the historic waterway as a premier water-based activity centre.

A beautiful but underused canal is being transformed into a major visitor destination. This will help support local businesses by raising the profile of the rural areas of Neath and Swansea as a base for tourism, with more money spent in the local economy by visitors.

With a trip boat, a small boat Festival, canoeing, disabled angling, and high-quality interpretation of our valley’s heritage, the Swansea Canal will be an exciting place to visit, as well as offering healthy lifestyle activities such as walking and cycling.

As part of the application for funding, Swansea Canal Society must show that the project will benefit the local tourism economy.

If you know anyone with a business based in the rural areas, can you please ask them to show their support for this exciting project by completing a very brief response form at:-



We are  a society run by volunteers who are all enthusiastic about maintaining, improving and restoring the canal. We are always looking for new volunteers to help us in a range of ways from administration, fundraising, working on the canal, to working on our Canoe Hire Project. All abilities and ages are welcome.

Mike with his bag of litterWP 22.3 (2)








David rescued H&S training day.                      Walkers 18.8 (9) 
If you would like to join us in any capacity, you will be given a warm welcome. Just go to the Contact Us page and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

If you feel that volunteering is not for you, then perhaps you would like to support us by becoming a member. Whatever you decide to do, please come and visit the canal and take a walk or ride along it, and enjoy its beauty and the wildlife it supports.

Thank you for looking at our website and we hope you enjoy reading our blogs, looking at our photographs and seeing what we are doing.


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