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Dan-Y-Deri - Merthyr Vale Continued

It was in the late 1860’s that this part of the valley first attracted the attention of John Nixon. A mining engineer from Northumberland, Nixon had come to the Taff Valley in the 1840’s and had been much impressed by the quality of the coal found in this area. Nixon had already been involved with coal mine undertakings at Bwllfa and Dyffryn in the Cynon Valley and these ventures had not been without their difficulties. The pits sunk on the flood plain of the River Taff at Ynysowen were however to be his greatest achievement.

The logbook kept by the sinkers of the shafts at Merthyr Vale tells of the difficulties encountered. For six years the men had to contend with the hardships and dangers of digging through a succession of strata that held massive amounts of water and fine, running sand. Accidents were regular but perseverance and innovation eventually resulted in the winning of a number of seams that contained some of the best quality coal in the coalfield.

The mining of this coal gave employment to thousands of men and boys during the collieries lifetime and brought an element of prosperity to the valley. It is however, the event of October 1966 that remains a blot on the history of the colliery. Although no coal tips remain the path the massive slide took is still discernable, if only because the vegetation, over forty years afterwards, grows sparse and grudgingly.

The course of the tramroad crosses the road near Merthyr Vale railway station and heads south to where a newly constructed bridge takes it over the railway at Mount Pleasant. At this point stood Black Lion Signal Box and the colliery sidings where coal wagons filled with the best steam coal from Merthyr Vale Colliery were marshaled into trains. Some of these went south along the Taff Vale Railway towards Cardiff while others crossed the viaduct of the Great Western Railway and Rhymney Railway Joint line. This line followed the western bank of the Taff as far as Cefn Glas before crossing back to the High Level station at Quakers’ Yard.

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