Diamond Park, Ystradgynlais

PWMP logobutton_lang_frenchDiamond Park, Ystradgynlais

This peaceful wooded parkland occupies the site of three collieries. They included the Diamond Colliery, a drift mine opened in 1874 (coal was accessed via a hillside tunnel rather than a vertical shaft). It produced rare anthracite, which had a higher carbon content and generated less smoke and ash than other coal types.

There were many accidents at the Diamond. John Price, aged 17, was killed in 1904 by a row of laden trams (railway wagons carrying coal to the surface).

In 1908 German stoker Hans Wimmer, 34, died after an oil lamp set fire to his clothes. During a 24-hour shift, he slipped while trying to hang up the lamp in the boiler room. His death was officially attributed to “exhaustion”.

Local collieries were idle at various times during the First World War. Early in the conflict, the government prohibited anthracite exports to prevent the commodity falling into enemy hands. The embargo brought the Diamond Colliery to a temporary halt in April 1915. At the same time, c.300 men handed in their notices in a dispute over shifts.

As colliery outputs fluctuated, many miners left the Ystradgynlais area to find work at other collieries or in timber harvesting. One Diamond employee, Tom Jones, left in 1915 for a position in a west African gold mine. The departure of so many men had a “depressing” effect on local trade during the war.

The Diamond Colliery fared better than many others in the area. It had 332 employees in spring 1916, compared with 286 at the outbreak of war. New recruits had replaced 65 men serving with the forces.

At least one Diamond employee died in the war. Former coal hewer Isaac Roberts, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, died aged 38 when German planes bombed the St John Ambulance hospital in Etaples, France, in 1918. His widow lived in College Row.

The colliery closed in 1938 and the area was eventually landscaped. In 2014 a memorial to the district’s colliers was unveiled at Diamond Park by Carwyn Jones, first minister of Wales. In the park you can see displays about the area’s industry history.

The park is owned and managed by Ystradgynlais Town Council in ways which encourage biodiversity. Trout and salmon spawn in Nant Gyrlais, the stream which crosses the park.

Postcode: SA9 1ES    View Location Map

To continue the Ystradgynlais in WW1 tour, walk through the park and the woods to Varteg Hill. The Scouts’ hut is on your left as you ascend
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