The South Wales Coal Annual for 1908




Extracted from the online book originally found on Windows Live  - digitisation sponsored by Microsoft

The book is now fully accessible on the Internet Archive site

Here are selected extracts ;




Wages. Pages 39-82

Production. Pages 83-98, 127-129

  • Tables giving Annual Output in South Wales and United Kingdom,1854 to 1907.
  • Comparative output and exports from various Coalfields in the United Kingdom, and in Foreign Countries, with particularsof persons employed, the production per man, and deaths from accidents.
  • Coal Cutting Machines in the United Kingdom.
  • Analyses of Welsh Coals.
  • Reserves of Coal in the South Wales Coalfield.
  • List of Explosives permitted in Coal Mines.
  • The World's Coal Output, 1905-1907.

Conveyance and Shipment. Pages 131-150

  • Maximum Rates chargeable by South Wales Railways.
  • Tipping, Weighing, and Wharfage Charges, South Wales Ports.
  • Dock Dues charged at South Wales Ports.
  • Cardiff, Newport, Port Talbot, and Swansea Trimming Tariffs.
  • Charges for Mixing Coal at Time of Shipment.

Prices and Sea Carriage. Pages 151-256

  • Market Prices of Steam and Bituminous Coal, 1907.
  • Average Prices, 1897 to 1907.
  • Collieries on the Admiralty List.
  • Form of Sale Contract.
  • Typical Forms of Charter, steamer and sailer.
  • Forms of Colliery Loading Guarantee for sailer.
  • Freights in 1907 steam and sail, foreign and coastwise.
  • Opening and Closing of Navigation in Ice-affected Ports.
  • Distances by Sea between Cardiff and the Tyne and the principal Coal Importing centres.

Exports. Pages 257-300

  • Statement of Coal Exported from South Wales Ports to each Port of Destination in 1907, foreign and coastwise, and shipped for Bunkers.
  • Statement of the Monthly Shipments of Coal from each South Wales Port in 1907.

Taxes. Pages 310-320

  • Duties imposed in Foreign Countries and British Colonies on Coal, Coke, and Patent Fuel imported from the United Kingdom.

ANTHRACITE. Pages 301-309

COKE. Pages 321-338

  • Production, 1905, 1906, and 1907.
  • Number and description of Coke Ovens used in United Kingdom.
  • Market Prices, 1905, 1906, and 1907.
  • Exports : statement showing exports from South Wales Ports to each Country and Port of destination in 1907.
  • Exports : statement showing exports from each South Wales Port for the last 10 years.
  • Typical Analysis of Welsh Coke.

PATENT FUEL. Pages 339-368

  • List of Principal Works.
  • Production in certain Foreign Countries.
  • Market Prices, 1905 to 1907.
  • Prices of Pitch, 1905 to 1907.
  • Typical Form of Charter.
  • Statement of Freights in 1907.
  • Exports : statement showing exports from South Wales Ports to each Country and Port of destination in 1907.
  • Exports : statement showing exports from each South Wales Port for the last 10 years.

WAGONS. Pages 369-378

  • General Law relating to Wagons.
  • Loading Wagons above their registered capacity.
  • Charges for Siding Rent on Wagons working for Hire.
  • Solid Buffer Wagons.

PITWOOD. Pages 379-383

  • Market Prices, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, and 1907.
  • Typical Form of Charter.

DOCKS. Page 384

  • Statement showing acreage, dock quayage, and depth of water on sill at South Wales Docks.

Foreign Weights and their British Equivalents 385

Advertisements Pages 387-459



  THE two Welsh rivers, the Rhondda Fawr and the Rhondda Fach, each running south-east from the hills towards the coast, cover in their separate valleys a distance of twenty miles. Beneath those valleys lies, seam under seam, the unrivalled Welsh smokeless steam coal, the winning of which gives occupation and sustenance to hundreds of thousands of people, and constitutes the Rhondda Valleys the most concentrated and densely peopled mining district in the world. In the heart of this coalfield, the great mineral property known as " Ferndale " covers one unbroken area of four thousand acres. With its northern boundary near Maerdy and its southern at Tylorstown, it embraces part of the Rhondda Fawr and the greater portion of the Valley of the Rhondda Fach. The hillsides encircling the miles of road and railway which stretch between the most northerly of the Ferndale Pits and Ferndale Colliery No. 9, which works to the southern boundary, are patched with cottages, shops and works, all built as part of the colliery development, and all dependent on the success of D. Davis & Sons, Limited.


The foundations of this great colliery undertaking were laid in the early part of last century, when David Davis the elder took a mineral lease at Blaengwawr, near Aberdare, and sunk a pit on to the 4-feet seam of the steam coal measures, a venture with which his name was always identified in the title popularly conferred on him of " David Davis, Blaengwawr." Shortly after he added another steam colliery in the same district at Abercwmboi. By 1839 he had attained what was then a position in the South Wales coal trade ; his total output for that year being 8,978 tons. The next twenty years David Davis spent in developing Blaengwawr and Abercwmboi. During that period Welsh Steam Coal was gradually making its name and extending its markets ; but was being worked only from districts near Aberdare and Merthyr, the existence of steam coal in the Rhondda Valley being in doubt even in the minds of geological and mining authorities until the second half of the century. But whilst the steam measures of the Rhondda remained an unknown quantity, important developments had taken place in the upper and bituminous measures, the Rhondda No. 2 and the Rhondda No. 3 seams being found at the southern end of the valley in good thickness and of fine quality.

Early in the sixties, David Davis. Blaengwawr, acquired a lease of minerals in the Rhondda Fach Valley. His first intention was to sink to and win the No. 3 Rhondda seam which was proving highly profitable to the neighbouring coalowners. This seam was duly reached, but found to be unworkable, and David Davis found himself faced with the disappointments and heavy financial loss of an abortive sinking. He refused to accept defeat, and decided to attempt the lower steam measures. This was successful, and in 1862 the 4-feet seam of steam coal was struck in what is now called the Ferndale No. 1 Pit, at a depth of 280 yards. The steam coal proved, development quickly followed. In 1866, David, Lewis, Frederick and William, the four sons of David Davis, were brought into the Ferndale venture, and the firm of D. Davis & Sons was constituted. In the same year came the first change with the death of David Davis the elder ; the management vesting in his sons. The output of " Ferndale " rapidly increased, and by 1870 the Firm, with an output totalling 239,204 tons, had attained a leading rank amongst Welsh coalowners.

William Davis retired from the Firm in 1869, the Firm consisting of the three brothers until the death of Frederick Davis in 1876. During the succeeding eight years the two brothers, David Davis (who was distinguished from his father by the name of " David Davis, Maesyffynon ") and Lewis Davis, retained control of. the undertaking, dwelling in the district and maintaining the closest personal interest in the development of their collieries and   in the well-being of the population dependent upon them. Steadily the property grew in size and in output, further additional area was acquired, new pits were sunk ; and when, in 1884, came the first break in the long fraternal partnership with the death of David Davis. Maesyffynon, the Ferndale Colleries were turning out over 800,000 tons of coal annually. In January, 1888, Lewis Davis died, and the control of what had now become one of the greatest colliery undertakings in the coal field devolved on his son, Mr. Frederick Lewis Davis. In taking over these heavy responsibilities, Mr. F. L. Davis had the valuable assistance of men who had long been connected with the undertaking, including Mr. David Evans at the Collieries, Mr. Benjamin Lewis in Cardiff, Mr. Charles Hull in London, and Monsieur Jules Vasse in Paris. In 1890 the partnership of D. Davis & Sons was converted into a limited company, the members of the family retaining the chief interest. The next great alteration came in 1894 with the acquisition of the Tylorstown group of collieries which adjoined the south-eastern boundary of the then Ferndale properties. Since that date no further additions have been made to the territory held by the Company, the Directors having confined their efforts to developing the large area held, increasing the output, and improving the equipment in the direction of greater safety and comfort for their men and economy in cost of production.


The prospectus of the present Company was issued on the 1st May, 1890, with a capital of £450,000 in 45,000 ordinary shares of £10 each, and a Directorate consisting of Messrs. Fred. L. Davis, F. Edwards (now Sir Francis Edwards, Bart., M.P.), Charles Hull, London ; W. W. Joseph, Swansea ; Benjamin Lewis, Cardiff ; Jules Vasse, Paris ; and H. L. Warner, London. The ordinary capital still stands at £450,000, but the Company has since issued £100,000 in 6 p.c. cumulative Preference Shares of £10 each, so that the total share capital is to-day £550,000. With the first issue of capital £225,000 was also issued in 5 p.c. Debentures, all of which have since been redeemed. On the acquisition of the Tylorstown Properties in 1894, further debentures, totalling £223,000, were issued, of which £148,000 have been redeemed, leaving £75,000 still   outstanding. The output, which in 1890 was under 1,100,000 tons, now approximates 1,750,000 tons per annum ; and it is a fine tribute to the skill with which the affairs of the Company have been handled that whilst this great growth in the output and consequently in earning power has been secured, the capital and debentures of the Company to-day total £625,000, as against £675,000 when the Company was first formed eighteen years ago.


The present Directors of the Company are Messrs. Fred. L. Davis, Miles Leonard Davis, Jules Vasse, H. L. Warner, and J. Bell White.


Mr. Frederick Lewis Davis has been at the head of the concern since 1888, and Chairman and Managing Director of the Company since its formation in 1890. Mr. Davis was born in 1863, educated at Amersham Hall and Cambridge, taking the degrees of B.A. and LL.B. He subsequently read for the Bar, and was called at the Inner Temple in 1886. Following his call to the Bar, he devoted himself to acquiring a practical knowledge of coal mining, spending two years at the Ferndale Collieries. In 1885 he contested the Rhondda Division of Glamorganshire, challenging in this constituency of miners the miners' own leader, and polling 3000 votes against his successful opponent. In 1903 the Welsh coalowners and the leaders of the miners agreed on the abolition of the Sliding Scale which had controlled the wages in the coal field since 1875, and its replacement by a Board of Conciliation, consisting of two Presidents and a number of representatives of the employers and the employed. At the unanimous request of the Coalowners, Mr. Davis agreed to act as their President on the Board, a position which he has since held with brilliant success and the appreciation of both sides. Amongst other offices Mr. Davis has acted as High Sheriff of the County of Glamorgan, is a Member of the Royal Commission now sitting on Accidents in Mines, and is a Director of the Barry Railway Company and of the Vale of Glamorgan Railway Company.

Chairman of the Coalowners' Representatives on the Conciliation Board, whose decisions control the well-being of three counties ; head of one of the greatest of our Colliery undertakings, and   Director of two of our leading railway and dock undertakings, with the advantages gained from his early training developed and broadened by twenty years of experience in the control of men, the movements of commerce, and the handling of finance, Mr. Frederick Lewis Davis stands to-day in the first rank of the country's " captains of industry."

Mr. Miles Leonard Davis is also a grandson of David Davis Blaengwawr, the founder of Ferndale. Mr. M. L. Davis was trained as an engineer, and has done practical work both in mining and in civil engineering, his experience in the latter capacity including four and a half years on the construction of the Barry Railway and Docks.

Monsieur Jules Vasse for years represented " Ferndale " as Continental Agent. He retired from active business some years ago, but still brings to the Company's service the benefit of his long experience, and takes the keenest interest in its success.

Mr. H. L. Warner was connected with the property some years before its conversion into a limited company. He devotes himself with conspicuous thoroughness and ability to his work as a Director of the Company, and has the advantage of a close and detailed knowledge of every section of the undertaking.

Mr. J. Bell White was called to the Bar in 1893 (Inner Temple and South Wales Circuit), and although not now practising, retains his connection with the legal profession as Editor of the Law Magazine and Review, the oldest quarterly journal of jurisprudence, and is much interested in international law (Member of Council International Law Association). A sailor by profession, he has served both in the Royal Navy and merchant service (Commander in the Reserve and a Younger Brother of the Trinity House). He still takes a keen interest in nautical matters, and is an Associate of the Institution of Naval Architects, a Member of Council Navy Records Society, and a life member (and sometime Corresponding Member of Council) of the Royal United Service Institution. He has for a number of years taken practical and active participation in mining, both in this country and abroad (Associate Member South Wales Institute of Engineers), and has recently acquired an interest in the china clay trade, being Chairman of the North Cornwall China Clay Company (1908). His wife is a daughter of the late David Davis, of Maes-y-fiynon.  


Mr. Thomas Vivian-Rees has his headquarters at the Registered Offices of the Company at Cardiff. He comes of an old Cardiff family, and has been for a quarter of a century in the service of D. Davis & Sons, having occupied his present position since the Company was formed in 1890. Outside his official life Mr. Vivian- Rees, who is a brilliant platform speaker, and is noted as the possessor of an exceptional memory, is always ready to lend his aid to any good cause, and the charitable institutions of Glamorganshire have for years benefited by his efforts on their behalf.


Embraces all the seams underlying a surface area of between six and seven square miles, covering one continuous coalfield extending from the Valley of the Rhondda Fach to the Valley of the Rhondda Fawr. The two-feet-nine seam, the top of the series of steam coal seams, is found at depths varying from 244 yards to 411 yards from the surface. Below the two-feet-nine the following seams lie :

Name of Seam

Four-feet Seam



Bute Seam

Five-feet Seam

Thickness, feet inches






The seams are intersected by nine winding pits, and a number of ventilation shafts ranging in depth from 240 yards to 560 yards. The winding pits are known as Ferndale Pits, Nos. 1 to 9 respectively, and are grouped into five collieries, each with its independent machinery, plant, and railway connections. All the collieries are served by the Taff Vale Railway, which carries the coal direct to Cardiff or Penarth, or hands it over at Hafod Junction to the Barry Railway Company for conveyance to shipment at the Barry Docks.


Of the five Ferndale groups of Collieries, that which embraces the Nos. 8 and 9 Pits may be described. These pits are sunk to   the 9-feet seam, a depth of 512 feet. In reaching this depth they intersect the 2-feet-9-in., the 4-feet, and the 6-feet seams, the bulk of the output now coming from the 4-feet and 6-feet. The ventilation is by an electrically driven Sirocco fan. Duplicate motors have been erected, driving by ropes on to each end of the fan shaft, each capable of producing the 300,000 cubic feet of air per minute required for full ventilation of these collieries. This arrangement of keeping one set as a standby has proved of great value, avoiding the risks of delay and the serious resultant loss of any interference with the ventilation.

A carefully designed system of watering the roadways and freeing the atmosphere underground of coal dust is in operation, consisting of pipes running throughout, with jets fitted at intervals of about 40 yards. The extent of this installation can be gauged from the fact that the pipes laid for this purpose throughout all the Ferndale Pits cover a distance of 33 miles.

Electric incandescent lamps light the bottom of the pit, and in the underground roads and workings " Henry Davies " safety lamps are used, the patentee being an Engineer in the employ of the Company. The seams are worked on the Longwall system. As the coal is loaded at the face, the trams are taken by horses or small compressed-air haulage engines to the main roads. Over the main roads the trams are hauled to the pit bottom by means of electrically driven haulage engines of 200 horse-power. These convey the trams in some cases over a mile in distance at a uniform rate of 6 miles per hour. As the trams reach the pit bottom, they are loaded into the cages and raised to the surface, the time allowed for removing the empty trams, substituting the laden trams, and raising the cage 512 yards to the surface being 45 seconds.


The winding plant of the No. 9 Pit is electric, and is the first electric winding machinery of any size to be operated in the South Wales Coalfield. It was supplied by the Lahmeyer Electrical Co., and is worked on what is known as the Ilgner System, consisting of a 16-feet parallel drum coupled to two direct current motors mounted on either side, each giving a maximum output of 1,250   horse-power. The necessary continuous current for driving the winder motors is obtained through a large Ilgner Motor Generator, consisting of a three-phase 2,200 volt motor (750 horse-power) driven direct from the power station supply. A continuous current generator is fitted of sufficient capacity to supply the winding motors with current corresponding to their maximum output, and also a large cast steel flywheel, weighing approximately 30 tons, coupled on the same shaft. The object of the flywheel is to supply the necessary power to the continuous current Generator in excess of that supplied by the three-phase motor in order to generate sufficient power for the winder-motors during the early part of the wind, when the load is very heavy. The flywheel, when running at its full speed of 500 revolutions per minute, contains enormous energy, which it gives out when required for short periods. This has the effect of equalizing the load taken from the power station. The size of the flywheel is 13 feet diameter, and 3 feet wide on rim.

The pit is fitted with a balance rope, and the electric winder is capable of raising 1,800 tons in a nine-hour shift from the depth of 512 yards.


As the cage reaches the surface the loaded trams run on to a travelling chain, which automatically conveys them to the screening house. There each tram in turn is passed into a tippler, which, slowly revolving, transfers the coal on to the bars of an iron screen. This screen consists of iron bars l in. apart, sloped at an angle which allows the large coal to gravitate to the bottom, the small falling between the bars. At the bottom of the screen the large coal reaches a travelling belt. As this moves, carrying the coal a distance of 60 feet, the latter runs the gauntlet of a number of men who extract anything in the shape of dirt or foreign matter. At the end of this journey the coal, cleaned and free of small, is deposited into a railway wagon, into which the delivery end of the travelling belt is lowered, so as to prevent breakage. As each wagon receives its complement of 10 tons of coal, it is marshalled into one of the colliery sidings, ready for transference to the docks at Cardiff, Penarth, or Barry, on its way to consumers in one or other parts of the world.  

The whole process from the time the loaded tram reaches the main road, until the coal lies in the railway wagon, is operated electrically. Electric fans and pumps keep the underground workings free of foul air and of water. Electric haulage engines draw the trams through the underground roads. An electric winder carries them at the rate of a mile a minute to the surface, where electrically operated creepers, tipplers, and cleaning belts complete the conversion of the natural deposit into the marketable product.


Mr. David Hannah has spent his life in the Welsh mining district. His first training as a Mining Engineer was secured at the Powell Duffryn Collieries. After spending seven years with that Company, he received an appointment under the Ocean Coal Co., later acting as Surveyor for the whole of the Ocean Mines. From that post he was appointed Under Manager of the Ocean Eastern Collieries, which he resigned in 1889 to take up the position of Assistant to Mr. David Evans, the General Manager of the Ferndale Collieries. On the death of his chief about a year later, Mr. Hannah was entrusted with the general management of the whole of the Collieries. The success with which, over the long intervening period, he has worked for the important interests entrusted to him is evidenced in the comparative immunity from accidents, and disputes with the men, and the great development of the undertaking which have since 1890 been special features in the conduct of D. Davis & Sons. In colliery disasters in the coalfield Mr. Hannah is always amongst the first to lend aid and to risk his life in efforts at rescue. He takes an active interest in the well-being of the thousands of men working in the Ferndale Collieries, and in those dependent on them. Mr. Hannah's chief assistant in the management of the Collieries is Mr. F. Llewellin Jacob, who has had nearly twenty years' experience in the South Wales Coalfield.


A number of the leading Welsh Colliery Companies repair their wagons in their own shops, but D. Davis & Sons have gone a step further, and in addition to doing their repairs they build their railway wagons. For this purpose a fine works has been erected at Ferndale, equipped with the best machinery, run by electrical power drawn   from the Company's central power station. The main building of the wagon works is 240 feet by 65 feet, with a height of 22 feet. Railway lines run the whole length of the building. The machinery includes electric hammers, drills, planes, and saws, for dealing with the timber, iron, and steel used in wagon construction. The shop is capable of turning out ten new wagons per week, in addition to doing the repairing work of the Company. In an adjoining building the wagons are painted. A further extension is now completing, in which the steel trams used underground will also be built. This department is in charge of Mr. J. S. Rose.


Always advancing, the Directors and officials of D. Davis & Sons, Limited, have during the past three years practically re-powered the whole of their collieries. The general scheme on which this has been carried out consists of a power station at the south-eastern end of the property, producing electrical power equivalent to 7,500 horse power. From the central station the power is distributed by overhead cables to the various pits, where at sub-stations it is reduced to a suitable voltage for the various motors. From this main source the energy is drawn to work pumps, fans surface and underground haulage, winding engines, and screens. Already the steam engine has been largely replaced by the electric motor, and in a few years nearly all the mechanical work of the Ferndale Collieries will be done by electricity.

The main power station is a brick building constructed on a steel frame, which sustains the whole weight of the roof and upper floors. The interior, with walls of glazed white bricks and windows in the roof and sides, is splendidly lighted. A travelling electric crane, with a lifting power of 30 tons, is fitted overhead, to cover the whole length of the building.

The necessary steam is provided by 4 water-tube boilers made by the Stirling Boiler Co., each having 6,209 sq. ft. of heating surface. Each boiler is provided with underfeed mechanical stokers and a steam superheater of the McPhail type, and is capable of evaporating 30,000 Ibs. of water per hour at a pressure of 180 Ibs. per square inch.

The generating plant consists of 3 cross compound horizontal   engines, made by Messrs. Sulzer Bros., each of which is capable of giving 2,500 brake-horse-power at normal load.

The generators are of the fly-wheel type, manufactured by the Lahmeyer Electrical Co. The energy is 2,200 volts, 3-phase at 25 cycles.

The electric current is taken from the generators to the main switchboard, which is situated at the south end of the building. The operating platform is occupied by a series of desks, from which the main generators are controlled, and switch pillars controlling the feeders. These desks and pillars merely carry switch handles and low-tension instruments. The actual switches themselves are enclosed on a lower storey. This has the advantage of giving ample room for the disposition of the high-tension gear in a chamber which need only be visited for the purposes of inspection, and leaves the switchboard operators free to attend to their duties on a platform which is safer even than a switchboard of an ordinary low-tension station.


The whole of the electrical equipment has been carried out by Mr. William Henry Patchell, M.Inst.C.E., M.I.E.E., in conjunction with Mr. David Hannah and the other officials of the Company. Mr. Patchell, who is also a mechanical engineer of the highest standing, is a leading authority on electricity, having sat on Government Commissions on the Use of Electricity in Mines and on British Electrical Standards, and acted as Vice -President of the Institution of British Electrical Engineers. He has had thirty years' practical experience, during which he has carried out in London, in the provinces, and abroad, some of the largest electrical schemes in the world, one of which represented over a million of capital, and included 200 miles of mains. In 1906 Mr. Patchell started in practice as a Consulting Engineer, and is now in charge of a number of electrical equipments, particularly in mines.


The different Ferndale Collieries lie at distances from the Cardiff Docks varying from 18 1/2 to 20 3/4 miles. The Taff Vale Railway runs into all the Collieries, and in the case of " Ferndale " coal   shipped at Cardiff or Penarth conveys it the whole distance. For Barry the Taff Vale Railway carries the coal to Hafod Junction, a distance of from 4 to 6 miles from the Collieries. At this junction the Barry Railway Company's locomotives take up the wagons for conveyance to Barry Docks. At all the Docks the coal is shipped under the supervision of the Company's foremen, and trimmed by men under their control.


The marketing of the coal is in the hands of the Joint Commercial Managers, Mr. E. Digby Holdaway, and Mr. John Davies. Mr. Edward Digby Holdaway commenced his business career and joined the service of D. Davis and Sons at their Cardiff office in 1866. Steadily moving upward, in 1883 he became Cashier to the Company. This post he held until 1895, when on the retirement of Mr. Benjamin Lewis, he was appointed to his present position.

His confrere, Mr. John Davies, commenced his long connection with the Welsh coal trade in 1864, when he entered the shipping offices at Cardiff of the Dunraven Collieries, then owned by Mr. Thomas Joseph. Mr. Davies' connection with these collieries lasted for a quarter of a century. In 1890 Mr. Davies commenced business as a coal exporter. This he continued until 1895, when, on the invitation of the Directors of D. Davis & Sons, he accepted the position of Joint Commercial Manager of their Company.

To find a regular outlet for the immense production of the Ferndale Collieries, to secure the best prices, and to adjust any difficulties arising with customers, demand exceptional energy, foresight, and tact. These qualities, in combination with an absolute straightforwardness and integrity in all their dealings, have been the cause of the respect and esteem in which Mr. Holdaway and Mr. John Davies are held on the Cardiff Exchange, and by all interested in the purchase and shipment of " Ferndale."

Amongst other officials at the Cardiff offices are Mr. J. Y. Strawson, the Cashier, Mr. E. C. Herman, who has charge of the Shipping and Traffic Department, and Mr. Eustace Richards and Mr. J. L. Williams, the Accountants to the Company.  


The London Manager is Mr. Robert Smith. Mr. Smith was appointed Continental Agent of the Company in 1899, with headquarters in Paris. In 1903, whilst still retaining the Continental Agency, he was made Manager of the London Office ; and in both positions has proved himself of the greatest value in extension of markets and the development of the commercial side of the Company's business.*

* We regret to learn that Mr. Robert Smith died whilst this article was in the press.



Welsh Steam Coal, the product of the South Wales Coalfield, is world-famed ; but within that coalfield there is one charmed area, on which the British Admiralty has set its mark as containing the finest steam coal for naval work. Coal that is smokeless, coal that is of such physical condition as to stand shipment and storage, and beyond all, coal that possesses the maximum steam-raising power. In the middle of this carboniferous sanctum sanctorum lies the Ferndale property, sending out one and threequarter million tons of coal annually, which being worked from one continuous field of coal is of an absolute regularity of quality.

Ferndale Smokeless Steam Coal is on the Admiralty List for the supply of the British Navy at home and foreign stations. The example of His Majesty's Navy is followed by other Governments and by the great passenger and mail lines of steamships, and " Ferndale " will be found at all the chief foreign coaling stations where the highest class Welsh steam coal is in request. The governments and steamship lines of other countries have in many cases very restricted lists of coals sometimes not more than four or five of the best Welsh coals which they consider good enough for their purposes. But however limited the list, Ferndale is always one of those selected as the best obtainable.

" Ferndale Small Steam " also holds rank with the best of the Welsh smalls. Ferndale coal is hard, and as a consequence the small contains an exceptional proportion of nuts. This quality, combined with its low ash, makes it a favourite coal for bunkers, locomotives, stationary engines, and patent fuel manufacture.


In the fifth decade of its existence, the Ferndale Property is to-day more firmly established, better equipped, capable of larger output, and possessed of better prospects than at any previous period. After nearly fifty years continuous growth, instead of any sign of slackening, 1908 will be signalised as a year marking the opening of a new era of activity. The substitution of electricity for steam, the complete reorganization of plant and machinery, the opening of the new No. 9 Pit. will all date from this year. The mineral area of the Company contains enormous reserves, which with the economy in working and the increased production resulting from these improvements and extensions assure a long and successful life. Since the Company's formation in 1890 dividends have been dealt with on most conservative lines, and the shareholders have supported the Directors in a policy of taking large sums from profits to be utilised as capital in the further development of the undertaking. As a result, whilst the capital and liabilities of D. Davis and Sons, Limited, are to-day less than they were in 1890, the earning power of their Collieries is nearly doubled. With an annual output which should shortly approximate a figure of 2,000,000 tons of a coal world-famed as the very highest class of Welsh Smokeless Steam Coal, with their Collieries fitted above and below ground with plant and machinery of the most modern type, with a body of Directors and officials experienced, energetic, and of proved ability, there is every assurance of a brilliant future for D. Davis & Sons, Limited, and the Ferndale Collieries.    




To meet the requirements of buyers, Anthracite is divided at the Collieries into various sizes, by means of breaking machinery, or of screens. The following are the names of the chief sizes with their dimensions :


  • Machine-made Cobbles are 2 1/4 in. to 3 1/2 in. or 4in. (55 mm. to 90mm. or 100 mm.).
    Screened Cobbles are passed through longitudinal bars about 3 in. (75 mm.) apart. The latter are therefore more irregular.


  • German   3/4 in. to 1 3/4in. (20 mm. to 45 mm.)
  • Paris   3/4 in. to 2 1/4 in. (20 mm. 55 mm.)
  • French  1 3/4 in. to 2 1/4in. (45 mm. 55 mm.)


  • 1/8 in. to 3/8 in. (3 mm. to 10 mm.)
  • 3/8 in. to  3/4 in. (10 mm. 20 mm.)


  • Is the nutty small passing through longitudinal bars  l 1/4 in. (30 mm.) apart.


  • Is the fine small and dust left after extraction of Large, Cobbles, Nuts and Peas.



(Go direct to Penarth Docks below)

Here is the Taff Vale Railway District map from the book


OLDEST amongst the Welsh Railways, the Taff Vale has for nearly three-quarters of a century taken a unique part in the building up and development of the great coal and iron trade of South Wales.

In the dawn of the nineteenth century, the production of Welsh coal was limited to the needs of the iron works which dotted the northern outcrop of the coal basin. This trade had already reached such dimensions as to justify the construction between 1790 and 1798 of the Glamorganshire Canal connecting the furnaces of Merthyr with the harbour of Cardiff.

Rapidly the Welsh iron trade expanded. The production of the Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire works, recorded as 39,558 tons in 1796, attained by 1830 a figure of 277,643 tons. Concurrently the collieries, whilst still mainly dependent on the ironworks, commenced to seek independent markets. A sale-coal colliery was opened on the Steam Coal by Robert Thomas, at Waunwyllt, near Merthyr, and Walter Coffin won the Rhondda No. 2 and No. 3 Seams near Pontypridd, and constructed a tramway connecting his pits with the Glamorganshire Canal. The Canal became crowded with traffic. The necessarily slow and tedious process of dragging the barges down a long waterway with its numerous locks was found incapable of dealing effectively with the growing tonnage, and ironmasters and coalowners found their business injured by the delays in getting their produce to the sea.

As the century advanced, the traffic grew with even greater rapidity. In 1831 the Glamorganshire Canal carried 70,333 tons of iron ; in 1834 this had increased to 111,012 tons. Naturally such a traffic told favourably on the commercial value of the Canal Company's shares. In the middle of 1831, the £100 share in the Company was valued on the London Stock Exchange at £290, and was then earning dividends at the rate of £13 12s. 8d. per cent per annum.  


With their trade demanding better means of transport, and with the prospect of handsome profits from the provision of these means, in 1835 Sir Josiah Guest, the head of the Dowlais works, Walter Coffin, the coal owner, and others, called into council Isambard Brunel, the chief Railway Engineer of the day, with the view of constructing a railway from Merthyr to Cardiff, with branches to various ironworks and collieries en route. In the sixth year of the reign of His Most Excellent Majesty William IV, or, to be more explicit, on June 4th, 1836, an Act received the Royal Assent, entitled "An Act for making a Railway from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff, to be called the Taff Vale Railway."

In October, 1840, the first portion of this line, between Cardiff and Navigation House, near Abercynon, at the junction of the Aberdare and Merthyr Valleys, was opened, the event being signalised by the conveyance of the shareholders in a special train over the line, followed by a dinner in Cardiff at the Cardiff Arms Hotel, presided over by Sir John Guest, the Chairman of the Company. It is recorded that this first train travelled from Cardiff to Pontypridd, a distance of twelve miles, in thirty-one minutes, some portion of the distance being performed at the rate of 40 miles an hour. It is evidence of the extraordinary advance that was then being made in railway engineering that such a speed should be attained in 1840, when in 1836 Parliament considered it necessary to insert in the Taff Vale Railway Act a clause that no train should travel at a greater speed than twelve miles an hour.


Step by step the system grew. The Aberdare Valley was secured by the leasing of railways promoted by separate companies. In 1863 the Company secured an independent seaboard outlet by the leasing of the Penarth Dock and Harbour with the connecting railway lines. Between 1850 and 1870 branches were gradually extended into the Rhondda Valleys. The developments of the succeeding twenty years included railways between Pontypridd and Llancaiach, and the Ynysybwl Branch ; whilst the acquisition of the Llantrissant and Cowbridge and Aberthaw Branches, with the construction of the Penarth Extension Railway, gave the Company a considerable mileage to the south-west. In the early stages of its existence the Taff Vale Railway had to meet difficulties inseparable from the building-up process. Traffic was slow to come in the volume necessary to provide dividends. The shares fell to a heavy discount. But the Welsh Steam Coalfield was extending and opening at a phenomenal rate. The coal shipments of the Port of Cardiff, which were 165,880 tons in 1840, and 1,910,212 tons in 1860, reached 5,862,349 tons in 1880. The Taff Vale became the most profitable railway in the Kingdom, and the £100 Ordinary Stock reached £300. Then came the greatest crisis of the Company's career. The Barry Dock and Railway, authorized in 1884, was opened in 1889. The effect was twofold: firstly in depriving the Taff Vale, both at its Docks and on its Railways, of an immense volume of traffic : and secondly, in reducing the revenue on what was left by a heavy cutting of conveyance rates. The gross revenue of the Company in 1888, the year before the opening of the Barry Dock, amounted to £884,462, and the dividend and bonus on the Ordinary Stock totalled 15 per cent. In 1890 the revenue was £713,753, and the ordinary dividend had fallen to 7 1/2 per cent. Agitation amongst the shareholders was a natural result, and drastic changes were made in the personnel controlling the undertaking. A new Board, consisting mainly of the present Directors, was formed, and Mr. Ammon Beasley was entrusted with the general management.

These gentlemen were faced with a problem of unusual difficulty. With a capital unchanged in amount, and with working costs which had gradually grown up proportionately to the old revenue, they started office with twenty per cent of that revenue non-existent. The manner in which they solved the problem, how they found new sources of traffic, how thoroughly they attacked each item of working expenditure, is written half-year by half-year in the published accounts, and there is no instance in the annals of South Wales commerce of a more brilliant piece of continuous and successful work. The shareholders are now receiving 10 per cent on their original stock, and reserves have been and are being built up which are assuring a maintenance of these splendid results.  


of the Company consists of Mr. Robert Lowe Grant Vassall (Bristol) the Chairman, Mr. Charles Thomas (Bristol), the Vice-Chairman, and Messrs. Arthur Baker (Henbury, nr. Bristol), Charles Henry Cave (Mangotsfield, Glos.), Matthew Cope (Cardiff), Charles Herbert Gray (London), Herbert Richards Homfray (Penllyn Castle, Glam.), Edward Oliver Jones (Cardiff), Philip Augustus Vyvyan-Robinson (Cardiff), Joseph Weston-Stevens (Clifton), and Hamilton Wilfrid Killigrew Wait (Clifton).

These gentlemen constitute an eminently practical and experienced Board. Many of them control great Colliery, Shipping, and other business undertakings, and every member possesses a close personal knowledge of the district served by the Company, and the trade conditions on which its success depends.


Mr. R. L. G. Vassall, who is a member of the firm of Osborne, Ward, Vassall & Co., Solicitors, Bristol, one of the oldest and best known firms in the West of England, joined the Board in 1890, and acted as Deputy-Chairman from 1891 to 1898, when, on the death of Mr. Arthur Guest, the previous Chairman, he was unanimously elected to occupy his present position of head of the Company.


Mr. Charles Thomas, joined the Board in 1891, and has acted as Deputy-Chairman since 1901, in succession to Mr. Russell Rea, M.P., who occupied that position from 1898.


Mr. Edward Edwards, has been in the service of the Company for many years, and has held his present position since 1900.


to the Company are Messrs. Ingledew & Sons, members of the firm having had charge of the legal and Parliamentary business of the Company since 1879.  


cover a mileage of 124 miles, and form the principal connecting link between the great Welsh Steam Coalfield and the shipping port of Cardiff. The 18,000,000 tons of coal which annually pass over the system makes the Taff Vale even when compared with the main trunk systems one of the largest coal-carrying lines in the Kingdom. Of this coal, the Company's docks at Penarth ship over 4,500,000 tons per annum. In addition, the Taff Vale Company are the chief carriers of coal to the Bute Docks at Cardiff, and the greatest percentage of the coal shipments of Barry also originate on their system. The passenger traffic represents one-fourth of the total receipts, the Company carrying between eleven and twelve million passengers annually.

The leading statistics of the Company's present-day position are as follows :   (edited)

  • Length of Railway . . . . . . 124 1/4 miles
  • Tonnage carried, 1907 . . . . 19,877,495 tons
  • Rolling Stock : Locomotives . . . . . . 224
    Steam motors . . . . . . 18
    Passenger coaches . . . . . . 363
    Merchandise wagons . . . . . . 2,542


  • Water area . . . . . . . . 26 acres
  • Quay space . . . . . . . . 6,600 ft.
  • Number of coal tips . . . . . . 21
  • Coal shipped in 1907 . . . . 4,570,429 tons



Mr. Ammon Beasley, entered the service of the Great Western Railway Company in the late fifties at Wolverhampton. After a period of rapid promotion, he in 1863 joined the staff of the late Mr. Grierson, when the latter was appointed to the post of General Manager of the Great Western Railway, and three years later he was offered and accepted the chief position in the general manager's department. In 1891 he was appointed General Manager of the Taff Vale Railway Company. The difficulties which Mr. Beasley had to face have already been referred to, and the manner in which he rehabilitated the Company, enforced drastic economies, increased efficiency, and discovered new and developed existing sources of revenue, has stamped him as one of the strongest men in the British railway world. In the presentation of a case to Parliamentary Committees, Royal Commissions, or in the Courts of Law, on behalf of his Company, or of the general body of railways or dockowners, Mr. Beasley is recognized as one of the most able witnesses. His close knowledge of law in its bearing on railway, dock, and labour questions was responsible for what is now known in history as the " Taff Vale Case," in which, after a prolonged struggle, the Taff Vale Company recovered £23,000 from the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, as damages resulting from a strike on the Company's system. A rigid disciplinarian, he has succeeded in establishing a high standard of efficiency among the large staff under his supervision ; but happily mingled with his strong belief in the virtue of thorough discipline, is a great tactfulness and a close interest in the real permanent welfare of those in the service, and there are few if any railway companies in the country where ties of deeper affection bind the servants to the management. When the Bristol Channel Dock Owners' Association was formed three years ago, Mr. Beasley was unanimously appointed its President, and under his direction this Association has already been able to exercise a very considerable influence on recent administrative and legislative changes relating to dock questions. The thoroughness of his methods in administration, his experience of everything appertaining to railway and dock management, together with his commanding personality, have contributed in securing   for him the esteem of his contemporaries and a permanent place amongst the men who have been the leaders in the industrial building of South Wales.


It may not inappropriately be stated here that the Taff Vale service enjoys advantages in two respects which are certainly rare if not unique. Every person in the company's employ who is not a member of the Railway Clearing House Superannuation Fund to which the Company subscribes annually an amount equal to the total contributions of the members in its employ is provided on retirement with an absolutely free pension, varying from 7/- to 20/- per week, according to the position occupied, the wages received, and the length of service. The only conditions are that the recipient must be 60 years of age and have served the Company continuously for at least 25 years. On the 31 of December, 1907, the number of pensioners on the books was 149, and the aggregate amount paid in pensions during the year was £4,146. Since the scheme came into operation on the 1st January, 1893, the amount so paid has amounted to over £41,800. A Savings Bank was established in October, 1895, under the provisions of the Company's Act of that year. The special features of the scheme are that the wives and families of the Company's servants are eligible as depositors, and that the interest paid on deposits is at a rate not less than one-half per cent above the average rate from time to time paid on the Company' Debenture Stocks, with a minimum of 3 1/2 per cent. The deposits, with interest thereon, are a charge upon the property and assets of the Company ranking next after the debentures.


include the Engineer to the Company, Mr. George T. Sibbering, Mr. Thomas Hurry Riches, the Locomotive Superintendent; Mr. Samuel Thomas, the Superintendent and Dock Master of the Penarth Docks ; Mr. Harland, Traffic Superintendent ; Mr. W. J. Bennett. Accountant ; Mr. T. A. Walker, Goods Manager ; and Mr. H. Smith, Audit Accountant.  


Mr. George T. Sibbering is a native of Glamorgan, and was articled to Mr. Samuel Harpur, formerly Engineer and Surveyor to the Merthyr Tydfil Public Health Authority, at that time probably one of the largest Local Boards of Health in the United Kingdom. On the completion of his articles, Mr. Sibbering joined the Engineering Staff of the Rhymney Railway, where he was engaged on the construction of the Quaker's Yard and Merthyr Joint Lines and other works. In 1883 he took up an appointment as an Assistant Engineer on the Taff Vale Railway, and was appointed Chief Engineer in 1893. From that time up to the present the whole of the important Engineering Works, including New Railways at Llantrisant, Ynisfach, Roath Branch, Ynysybwl, Cadoxton and Cilfynydd Branches, the Llandaff Loop, as well as the extensive improvements at Penarth Dock, and Pontypridd Station, and other parts of the Company's System, have been carried out by him, he having been responsible for designing and constructing the whole of the important works carried out for the Company. Mr. Sibbering has had extensive experience in Parliamentary matters, and has represented the Taff Vale Company on all important Bills affecting the Railway during the period in which he has held his present position. He was elected a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1896. He is also a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, of the South Wales Institute of Engineers, and a Vice-President of the Permanent Way Institution, and he is also an active Member of various. learned and scientific Societies.      




Diagram of Penarth Dock  from the book

The early history of the Penarth Docks forms one of the most interesting phases of the romance of the growth of the trade and port of Cardiff. A span of just fifty years bridges its original and its present-day position, and during the greater part of this period its career has been that of an enterprise distinguished rather by a steady than a rapid growth. But it is quite safe to say that the annals of the great port of Cardiff contain nothing of more striking interest than the piece of bold, far-seeing enterprise which was responsible for the conception, first of the old Ely Harbour, and then a year later of the Penarth Dock, and the unflinching courage with which the works, despite the failure of the contractors, were successfully carried through by the original Board of Directors, and the undertaking started on its career under the aegis of the Taff Vale Railway Company. The pioneers of the trade of Cardiff played for high stakes, but as in the case of Lord Bute with the Bute Docks, and in the case also of the promoters of the Barry Docks in recent times, the great risks undertaken by Mr. Crawshay Bailey, Mr. John Nixon, and others, when they launched the Penarth undertaking, and by the Taff Vale Board when they took over the works before they were actually completed, were justified by results, and to-day the Penarth Docks, though comparatively small in area, rank among the best administered and most efficient in the United Kingdom, and have transformed a wild, uninhabited region into a thriving, well-built and populous seaside resort.


In the early fifties, the only dock accommodation at Cardiff was that provided by the Bute West Dock. The Bute East Dock was in hand, and in 1859 was thrown open to traffic ; but the trade of the port was increasing by leaps and bounds, and even whilst the Bute East Dock was constructing, it became evident that further dock accommodation would shortly be required. Here was the genesis of the Penarth undertaking. In 1856 a Bill was obtained authorizing the conversion of the lower reach of the Ely River   into a harbour, by which vessels of a tolerably large draft of water might find a convenient bottom, and receive coal from tipping places to be erected alongside the river on the north side. The project also included a railway of some five or six miles long, which was to join the Taff Vale Railway at Pentyrch. In 1857 another Act was obtained for the construction of a dock, and the title of the Company was altered to that of the Penarth Harbour, Dock, and Railway Company. The original railway and tidal harbour were completed and opened for traffic in 1858. The harbour was equipped with ten coal drops, each capable of shipping 150 tons per hour, and three steam ballast cranes, capable of discharging at the rate of 60 tons an hour.


In 1858 the contract for the construction of the dock was placed, but progress was delayed considerably on account partly of engineering difficulties and partly on account of the differences arising between the contractors and the Company. Finally, with the sanction of the Court of Chancery, the Board of Directors themselves took possession of the works, and on Saturday, June 17th, 1865, the dock was opened.


The proposal to lease the new property to the Taff Vale Railway Company was not carried through without opposition. The negotiations between the two Boards began in the spring of 1858, when the dock powers granted to the Penarth Company in their Bill of 1857 had only just been put into operation. For a considerable period, apparently, the pourparlers were carried on privately ; but when, in the summer of 1862, the terms took definite form and were made public, both the contracting parties met with a great deal of adverse criticism from their respective shareholders, as well as having to run the gauntlet of the opposition of the Bute Trustees. Eventually, however, the dock was leased, and the agreement approved by the proprietors of the Taff Vale Company.


The dock maintained its original dimensions till April, 1884, when an inland extension was completed, increasing the length   of the dock by 800 feet to a total length of 2,900 feet, adding 5 1/2 acres to its water area, and providing space for four additional high-level tips. In the construction of these works over a million cubic yards of soil and stone were excavated from Penarth Head, and the ground thus artificially acquired was transformed into a labyrinth of railways for siding and approach purposes. Authorized in 1880, this work was commenced in November, 1881, and opened by Lord Windsor (now the Earl of Plymouth) on April 9th, 1884. The shipping facilities have since been improved considerably, but the water area has remained stationary since 1884, and the following statement shows the existing accommodation of the dock basin and harbour :

(not extracted)

At the Penarth Harbour, the South Wales Public Wharf and Transit Company provide ample accommodation for grain, flour, and general merchandise. It also possesses a large and complete petroleum storage installation, the tanks of which have a total capacity of over 3,000,000 gallons.


The following table gives a quinquennial record of the growth of the trade of Penarth :  

(not extracted)

The outstanding feature of this table is the steady progress it shows till 1900, and the accelerated rate of that progress during the last few years. The falling off in 1890 was due to the opening of the Barry Docks, to which reference has already been made; but Penarth gradually recovered its trade, and in 1907 its exports represented 18 per cent of the total export trade of the port of Cardiff, although its dock area amounts to only about 8.4 per cent of the total dock area of that port. Its principal export is coal, which represents about 99 per cent of the total volume of the export trade, of the dock, the remainder consisting of patent fuel, iron and ironwork, and general merchandise. The imports, which have grown uninterruptedly since the opening of the dock, consist mainly of gas coal, for consumption by the Cardiff and other Gas Companies, wood pulp for the Ely Paper Mills, and general merchandise. These three items absorb about 95 per cent of the total import trade, and the difference consists of imports of iron and ironwork, sleepers, sundry wood, pitwood, and iron ore. On the north side of the dock extensive wharfage accommodation, including a commodious warehouse, is provided for import trade purposes, and the hydraulic and steam cranes are so arranged that as many as five can be brought into simultaneous use on a single cargo. One of the movable cranes has a lifting capacity of 20 tons, and sheer legs and appliances are also provided which will lift up to 40 tons. The dock enjoys a great reputation for despatch in coal shipment, and in this direction it is doubtless destined to achieve a still greater distinction. The f ollowing is a record of the shipping tonnage of the dock since 1875 :


(not extracted)



Mr. Samuel Thomas has been associated with the Dock since 1866, the year after it was opened. Entering the service of the Company when he was thirteen years of age, he steadily improved his position, and his long and varied experience in the several departments of dock working has proved of great value to the Company. After holding for many years the position of Collector of Dock Dues, he was appointed Superintendent of the Dock and Dock Master in 1894.


In the designing of mechanical appliances for the shipment of coal, the Management of the Taff Vale Railway Company has always given predominant consideration to the problem of combining a minimum of breakage of coal during loading operations with a maximum despatch in its shipment. How admirably they have succeeded is shown in the Dock's remarkable trade record. The present total number of coal tipping appliances is 21, of which 15 are situated on the Dock itself, and six on the basin.

For very many years the original tips fairly adequately met the requirements of the Dock, but the rapid development of the South Wales Coalfield rendered expansion absolutely necessary ; and from the early nineties up to the present time the shipping facilities have undergone constant improvement, the majority of the tips having been erected in recent years.

Three of these fixed coal tips (high-level), erected on the Dock by Messrs. Armstrong & Co., marked a great advance on the old order. Capable of dealing at a high speed with wagons of a gross weight of 22 tons, they can tip at any height between 3 and 37 feet above the quay-level, or 47 feet above the water-level, when there is 32 feet depth on the dock sill. Like the others, they are worked by hydraulic power, and each is equipped with a two-ton antibreakage crane, double screens, and movable shutes. A still more notable piece of enterprise, however, was the construction, in 1899- 1900, of the four movable tips on the north side of the basin, which   when constructed represented the last word in the application so far as it concerned the coal trade of scientific knowledge to the practical purposes of rapid shipment. Built of steel, these tips were designed to fulfil the following requirements : To lift a loaded wagon of 25 tons gross weight 45 feet above the quay, to tip the contents of the wagon into the shute, return the wagon to the quay level, and run it off the cradle within thirty seconds. In actual use these conditions are fulfilled, and in the four tips, capable as they are of being brought into service simultaneously in the loading of a single vessel, the Penarth Docks possess one of their greatest assets They are direct- acting hoists designed to deal with wagons of a gross weight of 25 tons, whilst the cradle, carrying a loaded ten-ton wagon, can travel at 180 feet per minute ; wagons can be tipped at any height between 4 and 45 feet above the quay level, or 55 feet above water level when there is 32 feet of water on the sill. Ordinarily 24 feet long, the tip shutes can be extended to 34 feet, and to minimise breakage of coal, they can be adjusted easily to any height or angle ; whilst they are also fitted with double wings, which facilitate the trimming and the " boxing " of the coal. Two cranes, one of 8 and another of 4 tons capacity, are fixed on each tip. The tips are carried on 8 wheels with cast steel centres and steel tyres, and can be removed into any position along the quay wall by means of a four cylinder engine fixed at one end of the quay and a wire rope passing through brackets under the tips and over a drum on the engine. A gridiron or raised platform is fixed behind the tips, and against this the four traversers work ; a full and empty road is provided for each traverser, and turn-tables on the traversers enable the wagons to be brought on and returned from the roads leading on to the cradle. The sidings serving these tips are so arranged that coal mixing may be expeditiously performed, and as they have been constructed with a slight rising gradient to the centre and a falling gradient thence to the tips, a whole train of loaded wagons, holding from 2,000 to 2,500 tons, may be manipulated without the aid of any locomotive power. The effectiveness of these tips in the most important matter of despatch may be judged from the fact that one vessel of 2,115 tons dead weight has arrived, loaded, and left on one tide, in the phenomenally short period of 1 hour 55 minutes, that another vessel of 4,000 tons has   been loaded in 3 hours 40 minutes, and that it is of common occurrence for 2,000 tonners to be loaded and despatched on the tide of arrival. In 1907 over a million tons, out of a total of 4 millions, was shipped at these tips alone.

Of a still more recent date are the four tips, the construction of which was commenced in 1905, and completed in 1906, by Messrs. Tannet, Walker & Company. Two of these (Nos. 8 and 13), built on the south side, are fixed, and two built on the north side are movable. They are steel structures, with four upright columns standing on two base girders resting on the quay wall, and there is a top deck, eight diagonal decks and two intermediate decks. As in the case with the basin tips just described, each of these newer tips is provided on the top with an 8-ton and a 4-ton crane, and the point of the shute, which is suspended on wire ropes, is raised by two hydraulic engines placed on the top deck. The wagons are brought to the fixed tips on a high-level road, and with a dock water-depth of 32 feet they can be tipped at a height of 57 feet above the water level. The speed of the cradle is 180 feet per minute on the up and down stroke. The two movable tips, which are of identical design, are carried on eight wheels 3 feet in diameter, and can be moved 200 feet along the quay. The arrangement for bringing the wagons to these tips is similar to that adopted for the basin tips.


The anti-breakage coal-box in use at the Penarth Docks is one patented by Mr. Samuel Thomas, and has a holding capacity up to 2 1/2 tons. Its mode of operation is as follows : A trip-wire is attached to one side of the box and to the jib of the crane. When the box is lowered into the hold of the ship and the wire becomes taut, the box opens and allows the coal to drop out. As the box is raised and the wire becomes slack, the box closes automatically, and remains closed when the coal is tipped into it.

The high-pressure valves used in the regulation of the hydraulic pressure in working the tips at the Penarth Docks were invented by Mr. T. Hurry Riches and Mr. H. F. Golding, and the success which attended their adoption led to the installation of operating   valves of the same design on the tips erected by Messrs. Tannet, Walker & Co.

The pumping plant for the coal-tipping appliances consists of four pairs of compound surface-condensing engines, built by Messrs. Tannet, Walker & Co. Steam at 130 Ibs. pressure is provided by six Lancashire boilers, and the engines are capable of delivering 1,950 gallons of water per minute at a pressure of 750 Ibs. per square inch.  


The Taff Vale Railway Company have under consideration the construction and erection of two movable high-level hydraulic coaling tips on the south side of the Penarth Dock Basin, in substitution for the present two fixed high-level tips.

These new tips will be of the latest design and specially adapted for giving the quickest despatch in the shipment of coal, and will enable the bunkering of the largest class of steamer frequenting the port to be effected with the utmost facility.

Extensive sidings will be provided with sufficient accommodation for the storage and mixing of full coal cargoes, and the sorting and marshalling of empty wagons in return order for colliery destination.  


The excellence of the shipping appliances at the Penarth Docks is due largely to the great engineering skill of Mr. T. Hurry Riches, M.I.C.E., J.P., the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Superintendent of the Taff Vale Company. Mr. Riches received his training in the Locomotive Works of the Taff Vale Railway Company, which he joined in 1863. Following the completion of his apprenticeship in 1868, he added to his experience by work at sea, and spent some years in obtaining a varied experience of engineering. He twice won the Whitworth Scholarship, and in 1871 re-entered the service of the Taff Vale Company. In 1872 he was appointed Locomotive Superintendent, and has held this important post for thirty-five years, during which period the Taff Vale Yard has become known as one of the best locomotive building training grounds in the country. One of the leading authorities of locomotive construction in the United Kingdom, Mr. Riches has occupied the position of President of the Association of Locomotive, Carriage and Waggon Superintendents of the United Kingdom, and of the South Wales Institute of Engineers. In 1907 he was made President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, a position which counts amongst its previous occupants such names as Stephenson, Fairburn, Whitworth, and Lowthian Bell. In 1908 he received the signal honour of re-election ; and in the same year was appointed President of the Mechanical Engineering Section of the Franco-British Exhibition.


The Dock is electrically lighted, the generating station being situated near the fine red brick hydraulic engine-house on the south side of the dock.


The Dock Offices are situated near the Entrance Lock, and adjacent are the Custom House, Postal, Telegraph and Mercantile Marine Offices. Close by, commanding a fine sea view, is the Penarth Hotel, built by the Company, and accessible to and from the dock by a private road. The fire station is also situated near the entrance,   and besides the usual extinguishing appliances, its equipment includes a powerful steam motor engine owned by the Penarth Urban District Council. The Company's tug " Primrose " is fitted with one of the most powerful fire engines in the Channel, and a well-drilled fire brigade has been organized from members of the Company's dock staff. As part and parcel of the Taff Vale Railway system, with connections with the Great Western main South Wales line at Cardiff, the dock is in direct communication with all parts of the country, whilst a subway constructed under the Ely Tidal Harbour shortens the distance to Cardiff by a mile.


For the purpose of providing better and more extensive facilities for the repair of vessels frequenting Penarth Dock, it is proposed to instal, at the western end of the Dock, a floating pontoon of sufficient capacity to take the largest class of steamer frequenting the dock.

An Act has been obtained in the present session for the purpose of confirming an agreement entered into with the Penarth Shipbuilding and Ship Repairing Company, who will provide and work the pontoon dock in connection with their existing slipway undertaking.

The necessary workshop accommodation will be erected upon the land to the west of the pontoon.

The arrangement entered into will enable the Taff Vale Company to provide two additional lines of rails along the north side of the Dock leading to the Four-Tip Berth on the north side of the Basin. This will enable these tips to be supplied with wagons quite independently of the two tips on the north-east corner of the Dock, and will afford considerable additional facilities for the quick delivery of coal in addition to providing additional accommodation for the storage of wagons.


The wondrous growth in population and industry in the Valleys of South Wales during the past half century shows no signs of slackening, whilst the consumption of the famous Welsh Smokeless   Steam Coal is ever expanding, and new collieries are being sunk, and extensions of existing collieries are in progress, to meet the prospective demand. Within the past few years millions have been spent in improved plant and machinery designed to facilitate and increase the production of the mines in the area which the Taff Vale Railway serves. With an inevitable development of traffic in prospect, the Directors and Management of the Taff Vale Railway have made, and are making, full preparations to deal with it. The improvements already effected in Penarth Dock are to be followed by further extensions, both in the lines and sidings for handling, and in the machinery and tipping appliances for shipping, the coal. The railways of the Company and the railway stock, both for goods and passengers, have been subjected to a similar process of modernization. The net revenue has for many years been largely in excess of the amounts distributed as dividends, with the result that the financial stability of the Taff Vale Company is exceptional amongst British railways. The highest dividend paid in the country, with strong financial reserves, with permanent ways, rolling stock, docks, and equipment thoroughly up to date, prepared for and capable of handling the heavy increase in traffic which is bound to come, and with a management which has so brilliantly proved its ability to guide the affairs of the undertaking, the Taff Vale Railway Company is assured of a prolonged future of increasing prosperity.        


N.B. Many officers have their private addresses against their names in the book

DistrictAv. Membership
Anthracite9918Rees HopkinDavid MorganJohn D MorganJohn D Morgan
Aberdare8490M J MorganIlltyd HopkinsMrs J EdwardsC B Stanton
Blaina3810David Smith
Fred Sutton
James PitmanWilliam DaviesCouuncillor
Jas Manning
Dowlais3448John WilliamsDavid ThomasD W HugginsJohn Davies
Eastern Valleys5467W G HughesGeorge JenkinsThos. MorganJames Winstone
East Glamorgan2784E J CrewHy RichardsWm ThomasHubert Jenkins
Ebbw Vale3231John GalePercy ClarkFrederick MilesWm Vyce
Garw2490Wm ThomasEvan DavidThos WilliamsAlderman J Thomas
Maesteg4718R J DaviesThomas GriffithsW J WatkinsVernon Hartshorn
West Valleys
8514A C WillisOpton PurnellIsaac WaltersMichael Roach
Merthyr3991Thos LewisEvan JonesSamuel ThomasJohn Williams
Ogmore &
3022T D MatthiasThomas LucasLewis Lewis---
Pontypridd &
6404Wm EdworthyMoses SevernDavid ThomasBen Davies
Rhondda No 128,100Ben BevanD Watts MorganTom EvansD Watts Morgan
Rhymney Valley5355Jas DaviesWalter LewisWilliam PowellEvan Thomas
Taff & Cynon7120David JonesJohn PowellPeter Gardner---
Tredegar Valley5426Isaac JamesWilliam ThomasHenry TuckerAlfred Onions
Western Miner'
8697B D EvansW JenkinsR H WilliamsJohn Williams MP
W E Morgan
W Jenkins
Saundersfoot276George DroutJohn EvansThos Hy John---



[Last Updated : 6 Sept 2008 - Gareth Hicks]