Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales


As usual in this monthly blog post I’d like to share with you some of the objects that have recently been added to the industry and transport collections.


The first object this month is wooden plaque carved with a profile of Joseph Stalin. Stalin was leader of the Soviet Union from the mid 1920s right up until his death in 1953. The plaque was carved in situ on a pit prop at a west Glamorgan colliery in the 1930s. Later it was removed from the prop, presumably after it had been removed from underground. It was thankfully preserved by a worker who was a member of the Communist Party.


I have also included two images from the historic photography collections. The first is an underground view showing miners working on the coal seam at Penallta Colliery circa 1940. Metal props can be seen at the centre, with wooden props either side.

The second image shows a miner and pit pony at the pit prop dump at Blaencuffin Colliery in 1974.


The second object to enter the industry collections this month was an underground battery locomotive used at the Glamorgan Haematite Iron Ore Mine, or as it was locally known, Llanharry Iron Ore Mine. This was one of eight battery locomotives built in 1961 by Greenwood and Batley Ltd., of Leeds that was supplied to the mine.

This photograph is an aerial view showing the mine and tips. The image is taken from the Tempest Collection.


Finally this month, we have acquired a brass time check from Chislet Colliery North Pit, Kent. The 'D' on the check denotes the ride down the pit - A, B, C, and D. The donor was a Welsh man who went to work in Kent.

You can see more examples from the check collection here.


Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

As usual in this monthly blog post I’d like to share with you some of the objects that have recently been added to the industry and transport collections.


The first objects this month are a flame safety lamp and lamp check that were used by William Targett (c.1890-c.1986) of Pontypridd. He worked at Albion Colliery then Abercynon Colliery, and was a shotsman at some point. In 1947 the family moved to Somerset where he worked in a glue factory. The lamp is a Cambrian No. 9 flame safety lamp - No. 30, and was made by E. Thomas & Williams Ltd. of Aberdare in the early 20th century.


The lamp check dates from the same period and is stamped with the company name Albion Steam Coal Company Limited and the lamp number ‘2379’.


You can read this article to find out more about ‘Colliery checks and tokens’.

To see further examples from the collection check out the 'Images of Industry' site where there are more images of checks and tokens in the online catalogue.



Also this month we were donated an interesting metal roundel decorated with the house colours of the Reardon Smith Line. The Reardon Smith Line was founded by Sir William Reardon Smith. He was born in Appledore in 1856, and started his seagoing career at the age of 12. In 1905 he decided to go into ship owning, and set up W.R. Smith & Sons Ltd. His first ship was the S.S. CITY OF CARDIFF. Her master on the maiden voyage was Captain John Smith (Sir William's elder brother), with his son Harry Smith as Second Officer. By 1922 the company had 39 ships.


The metal roundel was originally attached to the left hand door of the main doors to the company’s office in Devonshire House, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff. This office opened in 1960, and so the roundel will date to then. The Reardon Smith Line Plc. Annual reports from the late 1970s to early 1980s featured the doors on the front covers. This example is from the 1984 Report of the Directors.


You can read about Sir William Reardon Smith, and his links to the National Museum of Wales here.



Finally this month, we have acquired a small collection relating to the mines rescue service in Wales. This consists of a jacket worn by Henry David Nichols who worked for the Mines Rescue Service in the 1960s. He was awarded this trophy for 15 Years Service with the Mines Rescue Service in 1972. The collection also includes a Mines Rescue Service commemorative trophy awarded to ‘Nick’ from Crumlin Mines Rescue Station, and a general Mines Rescue Service National Coal Board badge showing a man wearing breathing apparatus.



Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

In September 2016 Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales will again be participating in Open Doors, an event organised by Cadw (the Welsh Government’s historic environment service). The idea behind the event is to offer people the opportunity to visit a variety of sites important to the culture and history of Wales. The highlight of the event is the opportunity to visit places that are not normally, or are infrequently, open to the public.

The National Collections Centre, Nantgarw, is part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, and houses thousands of interesting and important objects that are not on display. Although not normally open to the general public we have always offered access to researchers, and also to various groups and societies. Staff at the National Collections Centre have always seen the importance of opening up the site to allow visitors access to view some of these objects and to see the work that is carried out by staff on site.

We are always looking for new ways to get visitors on site, to encourage people to learn about what we do, and provide more access to the collections in store. Therefore we have decided to repeat last year’s success and get involved in Open Doors again. This year we will be open on two days as part of Open Doors, on Wednesday 7th September and Thursday 29th September 2016. There will be five tours on each day at 10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 2.00 and 3.00. Each tour will last about 45 minutes and visitors will be able to take a closer look at some of the collections held on site, and find out about the work of staff based here.

Booking is essential for these tours. Please ring us on 029 2057 3560 or 029 2057 3583 to book a place, or find out further information. You can also email us on

Further details can be found on the Cadw website, as well as details of all other places open as part of Open Doors.

We hope as many people as possible will be able to enjoy the tours and be able to see some of the amazing objects preserved by Amgueddfa Cymru for the people of Wales.

As usual in this monthly blog post I’d like to share with you some of the objects that have recently been added to the industry and transport collections.

The first object this month is a photograph that shows the first ever rally of the Welsh Automobile Club. This was held at Bracelet Bay (a small bay close to Swansea near Mumbles Head) on 3rd December, probably in 1906 though we are not sure of the year. Can anyone help? The photograph was taken by W. Richards (late W.C. Roberts) of 16 & 17 Castle Street, Swansea.

The Welsh Automobile Club was founded in about June 1904. The Western Mail of the 4th June 1904 reported “At last Welsh motor-cyclists have decided to form a club. I have just received details of a new organisation which is to be known as the Welsh Automobile Club. It intends to recruit its members from all parts of Wales, and has, I believe, a very representative committee… The club intends holding its meetings in all the chief towns of Wales… The organisation will be affiliated to the Motor Union and associated with the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland.”

In 1905 it had a membership of 99 people.

First rally of the Welsh Automobile Club, Bracelet Bay, Mumbles.


This natural abrasive stone was used to grind/polish tinplate hand rolling mills. Roll turning, grinding and polishing were highly skilled crafts crucial to the working of iron, steel, tinplate and non-ferrous rolling mills. Little is recorded of these crafts, and so this stone is important in representing this important craft. Note that the metal frameworks that supported the stones have long since been scrapped as the last sheet hand mills in Wales closed in the mid-1960s. The stone was obtained by the donor during his employment in Player’s Tinplate Works, Clydach, in the early 1950s.

Natural abrasive stone was used to grind/polish tinplate hand rolling mills.

As stated in previous blog posts, Amgueddfa Cymru holds by far the largest and wide-ranging Welsh-interest share certificate collection held by any public museum. This month we have added to this collection a share certificate for the Mawddach Gold Dredging Syndicate Ltd., dated 1896. This concern undertook the only significant attempts to search for the considerable quantities of gold that would have been washed down into the Mawddach Estaury by both natural weathering processes and during nineteenth century mining operations.

Share certificate for the Mawddach Gold Dredging Syndicate Ltd., 1896.

This month, we were donated a hot metal forme which was used to print the front page of Western Mail newspaper on Saturday 2 February 1980. This was the last edition to be printed using this technology.

The forme is made of Linotype 'slugs' of type (cast from a lead-tin-antimony alloy), and plastic 'line blocks' reproducing images, within a steel ‘chase’ [frame]. The formes were usually ‘broken-up’ (i.e. dismantled) after being used, this one being kept for its historic significance. Thus a forme, although crucial to the production of a newspaper, had only a transitory existence of a few hours. This technology was in use from about the 1890s to the 1980s.

The next edition of both the Western Mail (and its sister paper the South Wales Echo) printed two days later on Monday 4 February marked the transition from this 'hot metal' process (both the slugs produced by the Linotype machines and the steroplates were cast using molten type metal) to photo typesetting, offset lithographic printing, and electronic / desk-top page composition.

The two images show the final page of the Western Mail using the last forme. The second images is an article from the South Wales Echo concerning the change over, and showing the work in process..

Front page of the Western Mail for 2nd February 1980.

Article from the South Wales Echo, 4th February 1980.


Finally this month we were donated a lamp recovered from the Albion Colliery explosion of 1894.  Inside the lamp was found a letter dated 1928 relating to the South Wales Coal Miners' Hinder March. Full details can be found in this article.


Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

As usual in this monthly blog post I’d like to share with you some of the objects that have recently been added to the industry and transport collections.

The first, is a collection of documents, photographs and objects relating to Smiths Potato Crisps Ltd. This company was formed by Frank Smith and Jim Viney just after the First World War. The Smiths Potato Crisps factory went into production at Fforestfach, Swansea in 1947, and the factory was officially opened in October 1948. The first ever flavoured crisps (cheese and onion) were produced here in the 1960s. The factory was later taken over by Walkers, and closed by them in 2006.

Print of a painting of a portrait of 'Frank Smith. Founder and Managing Director Smith's Potato Crisps', 1944.

Smiths Potato Crisps Ltd. staff, 1948

The S.P.C. Smith's Quartely Magazine. House Journal of Smiths Potato Crisps Limited. January 1961. Vol. XXX No. 118.

Smith's Potato Crisp Limited blue and red tie with logo 'SMITHS' on front. Blue enamel 'Smith's Twister' metal pin badge attached to front.


This baseball cap has the logo for 'Walter Energy, Western Coal' on it. Walter Energy (originally known as Walter Industries Inc.) was found in the U.S.A. in 1946. The company owned Aberpergwm Colliery from April 2011, but the company filed for bankruptcy in July 2015. Aberpergwm Colliery was closed by British Coal on 7 October 1985, but reopened in 1996, as of June 2016 it has been mothballed.

'Walter Energy, Western Coal' baseball cap.


This plate, and also a pewter mug, were presented to men leaving Cwm Colliery in 1986. The union couldn't offer a presentation lamp after the strike, so these were produced instead. The plate has a presentation inscription on the front, and also historical details of Colliery painted on reverse.

Plate presented to men leaving Cwm Colliery in 1986.


Finally this month, this T-shirt was produced for sale during a tour by the protest singer Billy Bragg. The tour was in June 2009 and was to ‘Mark the Anniversary of the Miners' Strike, 1984-85', and travelled to a number of venues throughout Wales.


Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW