The Coal Mining collections

Curator: Ceri Thompson BA

An early coal cutter
An early coal cutter. One of the earliest coal cutting machines used in Wales. This is a 'swinging pick' machine manufactured by Messrs. Ridley and Jones, similar to a machine used at Garth Colliery, Maesteg in 1863. The machine travelled along the coalface on rails and cut the coal in imitation of a human collier swinging his mandrel.
Two miners' lamps
Two miners' lamps. The Department of Industry has a large and varied collection of colliery flame safety lamps. These particular lamps are a 'Midget' used by mine officials in the 1940s and 50s, and a Cambrian No. 4, both made by E. Thomas & Williams of Aberdare.
Model colliery brass band
Model colliery brass band. Music has always played an important part in Welsh industrial life. This is a boxed set of toy bondsmen, painted as the 'Brynmawr Colliery Band', manufactured by Trophy Miniatures of Penarth.
Souvenirs of struggle. Wales has been known as a hotbed of trade union activity. This mug and badge were produced to raise funds during the 1984-85 miners' strike. The badge shows a woman in national costume pointing to a headgear and is a copy of the image on a banner made for 'The Welsh Women's Support Groups'.

The Curator (Coal Mining Collections) is responsible for the combined coal mining related collections of Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales and the National Coal Museum of Wales, Big Pit Colliery.

The site and collections at Big Pit were amalgamated into the Department of Industry, NMGW on 1 April 2001. Together, the two collections comprise two thirds of all mining collections held by museums in Wales and form by far the most comprehensive 3D record of the Welsh coal mining industry.

Collection highlights

Big Pit National Coal Museum

The Big Pit collection has been integrated into the coal collection of the Department of Industry, Amgueddfa Cymru &mdahs; National Museum Wales and consists of:

  • Preserved colliery surface buildings
  • Preserved underground workings
  • Reconstructed surface simulations
  • Medium-sized and large mining machinery
  • A comprehensive collection of mine lighting
  • A comprehensive collection of hand tools
  • A comprehensive collection of mine environmental monitoring equipment
  • A comprehensive collection of adjustable and powered roof supports
  • A comprehensive collection of colliery communication equipment
  • A comprehensive collection of mines rescue equipment
  • A representative collection of medium to large items including an early 'swinging pick' mechanical coal cutter and the first electric motor used underground
  • A limited collection of coal mining trade union items
  • A photographic collection consisting of 5,500 coal related images
  • A library consisting of 7,900 coal mining related bound volumes and pamphlets.
Researching Welsh coalfields