By the mid-eighteenth century (1750s) the Torfaen valley’s wooded slopes had largely disappeared – most of the trees had been felled to turn into charcoal to fuel the iron forges (about 18 mature trees were needed to make one tonne of iron).

In looking for an alternative fuel to run these sites as the charcoal availability dwindled, it was discovered that coal, when converted to coke, was not only an alternative but a better and more efficient source of fuel with which to fire the furnaces.

Torfaen was equally as plentiful in coal as it had once been in timber.

By the mid-nineteenth century, Victorian Torfaen’s coal mining had overtaken ironmaking as the primary industry. The collieries that stretched the length of the valley had started as a source of fuel for the iron industry but then became the source for supplying high quality steam coal to fuel the British Empire’s new machinery - locomotives, steamships and factory engines.

Large black tips dominated the valley and communities burgeoned in between the wasteland as the demand for more workers grew.

Thousands of migrant workers from all over Britain and Ireland moved into the Valley and villages and towns grew rapidly with commercial centres surrounding each coal mining community.

Nostalgia is provided by Torfaen Museum.