John Cornwell was a freelance photographer who took many photographs of collieries, mostly in south Wales and the English Midlands, both underground and on the surface, during the 1970s and early 1980s. He perfected a method of underground photography using the standard colliery lighting and was able to photograph coal faces, roadways, shafts and equipment with amazing clarity. In addition to photographing working mines he also recorded abandoned mine workings, above and below ground.

John Cornwell was also well respected in the broader field of industrial archaeology. He published a number of books on Welsh and English collieries.

The copyright of his south Wales images are now owned by National Museum Wales.

Comments(59)

Robert Keith Redfern
30 July 2020, 05:54
I worked at Church Gresley in the 60s. I loved these photos, they brought back great memories of a great era of my life. The best blokes in the world to work with. I wonder if any of the blokes from Kilburn 7s face remember ,it was our last face before they closed the Pit. It was sacrilidge, so much beautiful coal left in the ground. I also played Euphonium in the pit band. Thanks for the memories, love your work. Bob.
Robin Thomas
6 June 2020, 08:44
My great grandfather worked in the Stannard colliery Ynyshir from around 1870 by 1890 was inventing safety features for the miners lamp. ( Thomas Thomas) My grandfather started in the mine when he was 12 in 1890, studied at night school went to Cardiff University in 1901 became a lecturer in mining, eventually principal of Nuneaton school of mining, 25 years, retired 1945. Wrote a number of books on mining engineering . David Edmund Thomas 1877 to 1949
Nia Evans Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff
28 February 2020, 12:09

Dear Faith Anderson,

Thank you for your enquiry, I have passed your message on to my colleague who is one of our industry curators, he will be in touch with you via the email address you've provided to discuss this further.

Many thanks,

Nia
(Digital team)

Faith Anderson
27 February 2020, 18:44
My Grandfather wrote a fascinating few pages of his first day down the pit at 10 years and 8 months in 1881, at what could have been Farchol Drift Foch Draw. It was probably around Pontrhydyfen, where he lived and had to walk with the railway line to get there. Does anyone know about this pit? He couldn't speak Welsh, so I expect his writing of the name could be just as he heard it.
Michael Mantle worked down pit as a fitter
9 February 2020, 23:30
I hope you will be able to let me join this group I worked in Markham colliery for seven years am now I'm seventy six years young now
Jan Davies
17 September 2019, 22:13
Lovely photos the younger generation can see how hard the Miners worked for years

David b Evan's
24 July 2019, 20:14
ITS THE FIRST TIME IV SEEN THESE PIT PHOTOS I USED TO WORK AT THE WASHERY PLANT FILLING COAL WAGONS FOR THE POWER STATIONS UNDER THE DIRECTION OF MY LATE FATHER DAI MS DAVID ERNEST EVANS DIED RECENTLY OF A FINAL STROKE MINERS HAVE A GREAT EETHIC TO LIFE WORK HARD PLAY GREAT VIEWING
Peter Hannan
31 March 2019, 08:44
Lovely images. My maternal grandfather was a miner at the Ynyshir mine. A hard and dangerous life, but one of genuine nobility and dignity. George Orwell said, "My country, right or wrong." For me it's also, "Miners, right or wrong."
ARTHUR john Bell
7 March 2019, 11:36
Dear sir, is it possible to purchase a print of Tirpentwys colliery 1979 ,i worked there 1961-64 ,then joined the forces ,i have fond memories of my working days there,hope you will oblige ,John Bell.
Dai richards
5 October 2018, 20:19
Great photos great memories great mates

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