Former colliery winding house, New Tredegar

button-theme-crimeFormer colliery winding house, New Tredegar

The Victorian winding house of Elliot Colliery is now home to the Winding House museum and research centre. Its centrepiece is the steam engine which lowered colliers almost 500 metres below the surface and hauled up the coal.

The colliery was named after George Elliot, a founder of the Powell Duffryn Company which operated the colliery. The east shaft (vertical tunnel down to the coal seams) was dug from 1888, and in 1891 the new winding house – the one you see here today – began its work.

Elliot Colliery was badly flooded more than once in the early years. Water may have come from spaces in nearby layers of limestone, or from abandoned earlier collieries.

Many employees died at the pit, including four miners killed by an underground rock fall on 30 December 1915. Three were killed when the lift cage fell to the bottom of the shaft in 1892 after a rope snapped.

Inquests usually returned verdicts of “accidental death”, attaching no blame to the colliery company, although one jury in 1905 formally expressed concern about the type of rope used in the pit and the company’s failure to provide parts of a snapped rope as evidence. In 1904 an official of the Miners’ Federation attended an inquest on behalf of the dead man’s family, but the coroner wouldn’t let him question a mine manager because he couldn’t produce paperwork identifying himself as an official.

Employees were often fined for having matches or pipes in their pockets, or for falling asleep underground. In 1901, for example, EJ Williams, 47, of Bargoed was fined 80 shillings (about £430 today) for entering a prohibited underground area of the colliery and falling asleep there with his lamp alight. Magistrates said such recklessness often caused disastrous explosions.

One day in 1916, almost 3,000 colliers refused to work until night fireman Thomas Price had been found underground. His lamp had been “knocked out” as he inspected the mine and he stumbled around for 12 hours in darkness until a search party found him.

Elliot Colliery produced more than a million tons of coal a year at its peak, and was still producing half a million tons immediately before it closed in 1967. The east winding house survived site clearance. The steam engine inside was built by Thornewill and Warham, of Burton-on-Trent, which had initially specialised in supplying equipment to breweries. It was upgraded in 1904 to provide more power. Volunteers maintain the engine and operate it on certain days (follow the link below for dates).

The museum, run by Caerphilly County Borough Council, also has historical research resources and education facilities. It hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions about local history.

Postcode: NP24 6EG    View Location Map

Winding House website