The Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron & Coal Company

The Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron & Coal Company was based in south Wales. Founded in 1790, it was the largest tinplate producer in the country, until its closure in 2002.


Mark Etheridge Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales Staff
16 March 2020, 15:33

Dear Simon Ford,

Thank you very much for your enquiry. This is a photograph of “Modesty Mine, Llangynidr Road, Ebbw Vale. The Jones and Ashman Brothers dig for coal during the 1926 miners' strike”. It looks like the writing on the shovel reads “DIB M? / PUNCH / FOR IT”

The photograph was used in Ebbw Vale in Photographs Vol 4 by Keith Thomas, so you may be able to find more information there. I'm afraid we don’t hold an original copy of this photograph which is why it doesn’t appear in the online catalogue.

I hope that answers your questions.

Kind regards,

Mark Etheridge
(Curator: Industry & Transport)

Simon Ford
16 March 2020, 13:28
I am most interested in the photograph with the title 'Digging for coal at Llangynidr Road during the 1926 miner's lockout' particularly what the miners have written informally on their tools and the piece of corrugated metal above the workings, I guess for the benefit of the photographer. I have enhanced the photograph and can make out what it says on the hatchet "Good Old Cook" and the corrugated sheet might say something like "Modesty Mine" but I cannot get an enhanced enough quality to make out what is written on the shovel. Is it an easy task for someone in the digital archive dept. to let me know where I might find (if I were to visit your collection in person) the original to ascertain what the writing says? I can't seem to find the photo. in your the online collection. I am currently a PhD student at the University of London doing research into the history / class-politics of Garden Festival Wales, Ebbw Vale, its pre-history and after history with particular reference to photography. Thanks, Simon Ford.
Geoff Palfrey
5 September 2018, 20:04
I would like to add some comments in regard to the photographs, The Row named as the Gantra (Gantre) is really Sychffos Row, (the early Ebbw Vale Ironworks segregated its workers housing by skill colliers, miners ( of ore) and forgemen, officials and foremen had larger cottages in the rows) Gantre and Sychffos Rows were some of the earliest built, around 1805.
The shaft photo is probably number 6 Victoria, this had a pumping engine, number 5 did not, and, the photo shows the rising main and the pitch pine pump rods, the pump-house was demolished in the thirties and the shaft capped, the RTB coke ovens built near it. It was used as a pumping station until the early 1970's and had a pumphouse manned by the NCB at the shaft bottom, access was made via number 5 Victoria Pit.
The number 6 pit photo is really the rebuilt Number One pit Victoria, it was rebuilt almost a decade after the 1871 explosion there and the adjoining number 8 iron ore pit was used to ventilate it with a steam powered fan. Number 8 was then used to ventilate the 1914 rebuild of Number 5 pit Victoria, an electric powered fan being installed along with the valleys first electric winder on Number 5 Victoria pit, the complex was called Victoria Colliery, renamed "Prince of Wales" after Edwards March 1918 visit.
George Parry did not invent the cap and cone, he perfected a less invasive design that that used in the neighbouring Coalbrookvale Ironworks that was not retained by external chain.
The demolition of the cooling tower is from the late 1970's. Regarding the curators comments, Up to 1929 Steelmaking took place at Tyllwyn ( Bessemer) and after 1890, north west of Tyllwyn (Siemens Open hearth). Steelmaking experiments were made at Victoria by Parry in the mid 1850's using the Martiens process, Manager Thomas Brown stopped these after the furnace broke out and sent molten iron and steel over the nearby road.
David Owens
14 December 2017, 18:18
to whom it may concern.I consider in the photograph,digging for coal on llangynidr road, the man bottom right is my uncle Nye Owens who lived on that road at Red Villa farm,
David Owens 22 November 2017.
22 November 2017, 10:34
What a major loss to the persons of the Heads of the valleys.job were always in short supply many worked for outside companies ans supplied man and materials to supply the works
hope more quality work comes to these areas.
anita lockey
8 October 2017, 23:21

my great uncle would have died that day he was dye evans who lived in cwm in kings street

Sara Huws Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales Staff
1 March 2017, 10:28

Thank you Jeanette,

Glad to hear that our collections have brought back memories of your family.

Best wishes,

Digital Team

Jeanette Lamb
23 February 2017, 09:46
My father Cyril Day lived at 24 Gantra Row, Ebbw Vale, in the early 1900's, never thought I would see a photo of where he lived as a child.
I believe the houses were demolished in 1955. A lovely surprise, especially as I have just started looking into my Fathers family history.
My grandfather Alfred Day was a miner and I believe his 2 older sons Alfred and Thomas were too.
So glad all the photos have been saved for future generations to see. Thank you
Jennifer Protheroe-Jones, Principal Curator – Industry Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales Staff
23 March 2016, 15:23

Glad you enjoyed the photos – they are from an exhibition on the history of the works that was mounted to coincide with the National Garden Festival at Ebbw Vale in 1992.

The photograph of the 1882 Victoria blast furnaces in the exhibition taken around the 1890s and is the earliest image I have encountered of the Victoria furnaces.

From 1903 onwards when blast furnace expansion was concentrated at Victoria rather than at the Ebbw Vale furnaces, the changes to the Victoria furnaces are reasonably well recorded in photographs – a selection from 1903 until 1978 appear in the exhibition.

There do not appear to be many early images of steel making at Victoria unfortunately. The original late 1860s Bessemer converters had been replaced by the time the earliest known photograph of the Bessemer plant were taken around the 1890s - the circular photograph in the exhibition.

From the 1900s until closure, the steel plant was reasonably well recorded in photographs – a selection appear in the exhibition. The rolling mills and galvanised sheet works at Victoria are less well recorded in photographs.

You asked about books. “A History of Ebbw Vale” by E. Grey-Jones (1970), contains a great deal about the works. “Ebbw Vale: the works: 1790-2002” by B. Caswell, J. Gaydon & M. Warrender (2002) is a detailed history of the works with a great many photographs; it is available from Ebbw Vale Works Museum.

Jennifer Protheroe-Jones
Curator of the exhibition on Ebbw Vale Works

Sara Huws Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales Staff
21 March 2016, 09:45

Thanks for your comment John, I'm glad you found the pictures informative. I will pass your enquiry onto our Curator of Industry, as he might have some recommendations on further reading.

Digital Team

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