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The Last Years of

Coal Mining in South Wales

Volume One: From The Eastern Valleys to Aberdare

by Steve Grudgings


Hardback with dust jacket
232 pages, 250mm x 250mm
ISBN: 978 0 992855482
Publication date: September 2019


Price: £24.99

From the author: I count myself extremely fortunate not only to have witnessed and photographed the last few years of coal mining in South Wales but also to work with a publisher with the expertise and empathy to transform my raw material into what we both hope is a quality product. The process of producing this book has been a most enjoyable exercise, allowing me to indulge my memories and recollections of many visits to South Wales. These visits continue and there are a few of us who continue to seek out the increasingly derelict and overgrown remains of this once dominant industry. If you had not experienced it first hand, it’s difficult to understand how much influence the coal industry had on the welsh valleys in visual, economic, social and environmental terms. The coal industry in general and in South Wales in particular was both dependent upon and the instigator of a series of linked communities. The obvious communities were the physical ones of housing, shops, clubs and pubs around the pits, less obvious were the economic ones linking suppliers and customers of the industry. The miners themselves were another and it would seem that the dangers, risks and sheer hard work entailed in mining coal prompted levels of care and dependency for workmates unequalled in other working communities .With few exceptions, most ex miners will tell you that this what they miss most in other workplaces. Like its predecessor, the emphasis of this second volume is on the images and is very much a personal perspective rather than an inventory or gazetteer of pits. Whilst most images were taken by myself, my friend Tim Rendall contributed some from his visits to sites I missed. The initial inspiration of us coming from fellow Bristolian John Cornwell’s photographic first publications on Welsh Pits back in the 1980s. Recognising that none of his colour work has been published, we have, with the cooperation and permission of Ceri Thompson and colleagues at the Welsh National Coal Museum, been able to use some John Cornwell’s work to fill gaps in my visits and also hopefully to draw attention to the quality of his work. We hope you enjoy this photographic expedition from Aberdare westwards to Pembrokeshire

Key Features:

  • A unique pictorial record of the fast few years of coal mining in the western valleys of South Wales with over 250 images of large and small colleries across the district.
  • Choice of photographs was made of the basis of their breadth of coverage as well as their historic  and aesthetic merit.

About the author:

An outsider to both South Wales and to Coal Mining, Steve Grudgings has had great pleasure becoming familiar with both over the past 40 years, some of the results of which fill these pages.
Increasingly active in researching, conserving and documenting the remains of the UK’s coal industry now there are no active pits left to photograph, he has become something of an ‘accidental expert’ on many facets of an industry that has nearly vanished from this country.