A Report on the November Meeting of Resolfen History Society
In introducing the speaker for the evening, Mr John Rees the Chairman of the Society stated “that normally the talk would be about history, however, tonight this evening’s speaker has made history”. This was no exaggeration since this month’s speaker was none other than Tyrone O’Sullivan.
Mr O’Sullivan began the epic history of Tower colliery by delving into the past. The site of Tower was also the site of one of ironmaster Crawshay’s houses, hence the name, and was also the site where the Merthyr rioters slew a calf and raised the red flag in the 1830s. Coal had been extracted on this site since 1802.
The speaker then gave a vivid description of his family’s connection with Tower and the fact that each generation of his family had lost a relative to the coal industry, including his own father. He then recounted the events which led to the closure of so many pits in south Wales following the 1984/5 coal strike and the fact that by 1994, Tower remained as the only deep mine left. MP Ann Clwyd’s role in holding a vigil underground was explained in vivid and comic detail, and following a series of events the colliers eventually gained control of their own workplace on the eve of privatisation.To their credit the Tower workers had repaid their loans and made a profit in each successive year.
Mr O’Sullivan concluded his talk with a view of the future of coal in Wales. Tower colliery will shut in October 2007 simply because all the coal had been worked. New ventures would include investment in the Vale of Neath and the advent of “clean coal” technology would ultimately prove a better prospect than wind power in the face of an uncertain climate.
Mr Phylip Jones thanked Mr O’Sullivan for a most enthralling evening in which the large audience had been held spellbound.
Next month’s speaker will be Dr Elin Jones who will give the annual Noel Thomas Memorial Lecture.