About the Society
Historical Notes






With the death of Thomas Powell in 1863, collieries in his name later became known as Powell Duffryn chiefly through instigation of Sir George Elliot with capital of £500,000. Pits in Aberdare at the time were
Ysguborwen and Bwllfa owned by Samuel Thomas and Joseph Birch
Nantmelyn owned by Mordecai Jones
Ynyscynon, Treaman, Deep Dyffryn and Navigation owned by Alaw Goch
Cwmdare (Powell’s Pit or Bwllfa No3), Upper, Middle and Lower Dyffryn owned by   Thomas Powell
Blaengwawr and Abercwmboi owned by David Davis
Llettysiencyn owned by William, son of Lucy Thomas

These pits suffered a number of disadvantages. They had comparatively little capital. They had a multiplicity of overheads. Their pumping, ventilating and selling agencies were all duplicated.
Thomas Powell owned 16 pits and employed about 6.000 men.
The position was ripe for a take-over.



1864 July 18th

a) Henry St. John Powell, Thomas Powell and
b) the purchasers George Elliot, Richard Potter, Thomas Brassey, Alexander Ogilvie, John Robinson MacLean, John Swift, Samuel Edward Bolton and Peter George Heyworth to purchase the Powell interests as from January 1st 1864 for £365,000.

The Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company was registered on 28th July 1864 under the Companies Act of 1862. However, the company did not enter into full rights of possession until November 1873, after 9 years of extensive litigation as to the exact underground location and value of collieries. The leading spirit in all negotiations was George Elliot ably assisted by his son-in-law Joseph Charles Parkinson.


Crawshay Bailey sold Aberaman Estate to PD for £123,500. He closed the iron works in 1875 as they had for some time been running at a loss. Between Abergwawr and Aberaman, there was Williams’ Pit and it was advantageous to PD to buy - and the sale was completed after David Williams’ death.


Ynyscynon or High Dyffryn and Treaman or Williams’ Pit sold to PD for £8,750.






Two collieries in which they were interested Cwmneol - (Morris’s Pit / Pwll Morus) - and Fforchaman - (Brown’s Pit / Pwll Brown).
1) Cwmneol which was sunk after April 1847. Lease granted by John Bruce-Price of Dyffryn in 1847 to Messrs John Carr, Charles Carr, and Martin Morrison. Then a further lease between these and William Curre and Mrs. Maria Gwynne-Holford and Arthur Owen Lord extended their interests again.

1851 Jan

Lease granted by William Williams farmer of Cwmneol farm to build Colliery buildings, house, shops, etc but no Public House or Tavern.


November 25th. Another lease by Crawshay Bailey from the Aberaman Estate.

1864 May

Interests assigned to United Merthyr Colliery Company Ltd.


Feb 6th Assigned to PD.


2) Fforchaman or (Brown’s Pit / Pwll Brown) bought by PD. Fforchaman Farm was owned by a Mrs. Mary Kingsbury but the mineral rights were held by William Curre, Gwynne-Holford and Arthur Owen Lord.

1856 May

Curre, Gwynne-Holford and Lord signed a lease to work 340 acres of various coal seams underground to Revs. Thomas and George Protheroe, Charles Button Fox of Newport and Sir Thomas Phillips and James Brown.

1858 Mar

Mrs. Kingsbury granted permission to sink pit, erect colliery buildings and tip refuse.

1864 June

Assigned to United Merthyr Collieries.


Sold to PD, price paid for both pits was £80,000.






The first General Manager of the PD Company was George Wilkinson assisted by his son-in-law Llewellyn Llewellyn. Wilkinson was previously General Manager for Thos Powell and Sons. He retired from the PD in 1878.
Edmund Mills Hann, born 1850, was appointed G.M. of the New Tredegar Colliery PD in April 1879. In July 1880, he came to Aberdare to take over the general managership of certain local PD collieries, viz. Aberaman, Cwmneol, Fforchaman, Treaman, Abergwawr, Old Dyffryn, and Powell’s Pit, Cwmdare. Meanwhile Lower and Middle Dyffryn Collieries were in the charge of H.W. Martin. When the latter left in 1883, Hann took over the control of the entire mining interests of PD. He held the position until his retirement to Llanishen in July 1921.


Some significant dates in the Life of E.M. Hann

1880 Nov

Member of Aberdare Local Board of Health served until December 1894 when he topped


the poll for election to the newly formed Aberdare Urban District Council which held its first sitting in January 1895. He remained a member of the Council until 1921.


Made a director of Powell Duffryn and was presented with a portrait in oils to mark the occasion.


Presented with a silver salver by the staff at Aberaman.


First President Aberdare Hospital. (His son E.L. Hann President 1925–26 and F.P. Hann, President in 1944.)

1931 Oct 4

E.M. Hann died.
Hann was a keen businessman and an outstanding Mining Engineer.


PD had a loss of £43,000 involving a large overdraft. Hann negotiated a loan of £60,000 from an insurance firm. Subsequently under Hann the PD fortunes flourished.


Total PD output was 0,750,000 tons per annum


Total PD output was 2,750,000 tons per annum


Total PD output was nearly 4,000,000 tons per annum


When E.M. Hann gave evidence before the Local Government Board in 1915, he stated that the PD Collieries would last 110 years and that Bwllfa Collieries had enough coal for 250 years. During the Hann regime, PD Co. swallowed up most of the adjoining collieries: viz. Gadlys Pit, Blaengwawr and Abercwmboi from David Davis, Ysguborwen from J.H. Thomas, Llettysiencyn from Burnyeat Brown & Co. and Abernant from the Marquis of Bute.




Note on Abernant Collieries River Level (Lefel yr Afon), and Blaennant.


Annual wages bill of Abernant Collieries and Iron Works was £200,000. There followed a Trade Recession and after 1873 a committee representing principal creditors carried on for 6–7 years. They were unable to raise enough capital to continue and J. Lewis (Plasdraw) took over and continued until September 1899.


Meanwhile in this year there was a disastrous flood at River Level/Lefel-yr-Afon resulted in many deaths.

1899 Sep

Abernant interests purchased by W.T. Lewis acting for Bute.

1915 Apr

April, Bute sold collieries to PD. Soon afterwards they were producing 1200 tons a day.




On the technical side, Hann’s achievements were considerable.


President of the South Wales Institute of Engineers. During this period, his son George became agent for the Aberdare Collieries. A noteworthy feature during his regime was the gradual decrease of the use of horses underground and their replacement by electric power, (but even during the 1914–18 period the PD still employed over 600 horses in their mines). Hann was also responsible for building the washery at Aberaman and just before his retirement in 1921, having it entirely remodelled by Hainboult and Co. bringing its washing capacity up to 160 tons per hour. Another of his projects was a power station at Aberaman with capacity of 11,000 kW. It provided electricity for the pumping of all PD Pits. 2,600,000 gallons of water were pumped daily from pits.


Repair shops at Aberaman were responsible for the 8,000 railway wagons belonging to the Company.


By this year, the PD output had risen to 20,000,000 tons per annum partly due to technical developments but mainly to further amalgamations after Hann’s day.

1935 Mar 12

Amalgamation of PD and Welsh Associated Collieries Ltd. Among whose more prominent directors were D.R. and W.M. Llewellyn and H.R. Merrett.




Llewellyns of Bwllfa


The Llewellyns were the sons of Rees Llewellyn, General Manager of Bwllfa and Merthyr Dare Collieries. Like Hann, Rees Llewellyn was prominent in local politics — he served on the Aberdare School Board and Local board of Health from April 1891 and on the A.U.D.C. after 1894, and he was Chairman 1902–3.

Of his sons, W.M. was most prominent locally. He was joint master of the Bwllfa Hunt and fought the constituency as a Liberal. His greatest contributions to the area were his generous gifts to the Aberdare hospital: £1,200 to the Elizabeth Llewellyn nursing Institute (in memory of his mother); £3,000 for the Elizabeth Llewellyn Maternity Ward and £1,000 during his Presidency for equipping the Ward in 1941–42.


D.R. Llewellyn acquired Tan-y-Bryn Level.


He converted the nearby Brickworks into a modern unit.


Acquired Dyllas Colliery.


Tirherbert Colliery opened but development delayed due to the war. Llewellyns’ main interest was the Bwllfa.


Bwllfa employed 350 men. It had the first electrical coal-cutting machinery in the South Wales Coalfield.


Formation of Welsh Associated Collieries Ltd. They could not, however, withstand the PD competition particularly during the depression.


The two companies amalgamated.


PD took over Messrs Cory Bros & Co.