Richard Bedlington, M.E., 1825-1904
Bedlington was a mining engineer who after an initial period when he managed mines, became in the latter part of his career a consulting engineer. He was born in Bristol although his family roots were in the far north of England. He was brought up at Rhymney Ironworks and Collieries by his uncle who he eventually succeeded as manager. Whilst there he read a paper at the Institution of Engineers in 1860 advocating the long-wall system of winning coal, which he subsequently promoted in his area of Monmouthshire—as did John Nixon in the Cynon Valley. Bedlington worked at Rhymney until 1867 when he was engaged as general manager for Messrs. Davis and Sons, Ferndale. This appointment followed the mining disaster there in which 178 lives were lost. He left Ferndale two years later following the second disaster in which 49 were killed, although his work there was not called into question.
After residing for many years in Ferndale, he then became the manager of the Aberdare Rhondda Colliery in Hirwaun, and was also consulting engineer to Mr James Lewis, Plas Draw, until his collieries were taken over by the Marquis of Bute. For the remainder of Bedlington’s career he confined his activities to those of a consulting engineer, retained by the Rhymney, the Blackwood and Mynydd Mawr Collieries, as well as providing engineering consultancy for Sir W.T. Lewis.
Bedlington was one of the founders of the South Wales Institute of Engineers, and of the Aberdare Coalowners’ Association of 1864.
When he moved to Aberdare in the late 1860s he took up residence in Gadlys Uchaf, which was a large house situated behind Meirion Street. The house was reached by a drive that ran from Hirwaun Road, near the top of present day Broniestyn Terrace, and through the land now occupied by Park Grove.
Bedlington was a Unitarian, attending Highland Place Church, of which he was one of the trustees and a liberal contributor to the church funds. He was also for six years until 1877 a member of the Aberdare School Board. He was a voluminous reader, and his library was reputed to be one of the best private collections in south Wales.
Bedlington suffered much domestic bereavement. His wife—Miss Jane Roe, of Pontypool whom he married in 1853—died in April 1868. His eldest son, Richard Christopher Bedlington, died in 1903 in Aberdare, whilst Peter Roe Bedlington, his second son also an engineer, (briefly in 1880, Manager of the Middle Duffryn Colliery, Cwmbach), died aged 36 in 1893; and Bedlington’s daughter, Mrs. Isabella Lybella Jane Martha McLennan, also predeceased him having died in Spain. Furthermore, another relative William Bedlington, a mining engineer resident at Whitchurch, was killed in 1866 by an explosion at Tylacoch Colliery, near Ystrad, in the Rhondda Valley.
When Richard Bedlington died, he was living at Gadlys Uchaf with his sister-in-law Sarah Elizabeth Roe. Both Richard Bedlington and his wife Jane are buried at Cefn cemetery.
For at least 50 years after his death, his home Gadlys Uchaf was known as Bedlington’s.