Posted: Sat 15th Oct 2016

New Lease Of Life For Former Colliery Site /
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Oct 15th, 2016

A former colliery winding house, in the heart of what was once the thriving South Wales Coalfield, looks set to be re-opened to the public in all of its former glory. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

There are proposals in place to grant the Trust a lease of the Hetty Winding House at the former Great Western Colliery at Hopkinstown. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The proposals complement both the Council’s RCT Together initiative – working together with its communities to deliver sustainable services and facilities in the future – and its ongoing commitment to utilise any availability within the general property portfolio to support community projects, and the Council is working with the Great Western Colliery Preservation Trust Limited to secure the re-opening of the winding house. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Hetty Winding Engine played a vital role in the day-to-day running of the coal mine for over 100 years, transporting the miners and coal from pit bottom to the surface during each shift. Sunk in 1875, during its heyday the Great Western Colliery employed hundreds of men. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Hetty Winding Engine has been beautifully restored by Trust volunteers who have spent more than a decade carrying out restoration work on the Victorian steam-powered winding engine, which was manufactured by Barker and Cope, of Kidsgrove, in 1875. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Council, now the owners of the colliery site, is working with The Great Western Colliery Preservation Trust Limited in order to grant the Trust a lease of the site. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Deputy Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, County Borough Councillor Maureen Webber, said: “The Council is delighted to be working with the Great Western Colliery Preservation Trust to secure the future of this wonderful part of our coal-mining heritage. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The Trust is a specialist organisation, formed with the express purpose of preserving and restoring this amazing feat of mechanical engineering. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“It is made up of an enthusiastic group of people with access to a wide range of professional skills, experience and expertise. The Council is granting the lease of the former Hetty Colliery site to the Trust in order to preserve this amazing feat of engineering.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

During its heyday, the steam winding engine would raise coal from up to 360 metres below the surface of the ground. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

In later years, the Hetty Colliery was used as an emergency mine shaft for the nearby Ty Mawr Colliery and Lewis Merthyr Colliery – now the home of the Council’s Rhondda Heritage Park. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Brian Davies, of The Great Western Colliery Preservation Trust Limited, said: “For many years the Hetty Winding Engine was left and the building itself fell into disrepair, which was very sad. However, after spending many years restoring the wonderful piece of craftsmanship, we have come a long way. It is wonderful to see the delight on the faces of our visitors of all ages as they see this engine in action.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The mining industry in Wales really was at the cutting edge of engineering and science. The Hetty Winding Engine runs as smoothly today as it did the year it was built – over 100 years ago.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Visitors to the Hetty Winding Engine House get to drive the original engine, which is today powered by compressed air. They can also operate the shaft signalling systems and chat to the volunteers who have carried out the restoration work. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Great Western Colliery finally closed in 1983 and its pit shaft was sealed and exterior buildings demolished. But the Hetty Winding Engine House survived and opens to the public at limited times due to the running cost.
It was granted Listed Building status in 1984 due to its national importance as one of the last surviving colliery engine houses and adjacent headgear in Wales and the engine house and surrounding area was scheduled as an ancient monument in 1994 ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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