THIS week’s Nostalgia is an extract from The Story of Torfaen. This extract focuses on the emergence of coal mining and the effect of this on Torfaen:

It was the emergence of coal as the new fuel that led to the completion of the whole Valley as an industrial landscape with the establishment of mines along its coal seams and the growth of villages and terraces of cottages to house the ever-growing mine and iron making workforces.

Brick and quarrying works for the workers’ housing also spread rapidly along the Valley.

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 area and villages as well as the main towns of Pontypool and Blaenafon grew rapidly – with commercial centres surrounding each coal mining community.

The site later known as The British Ironworks (or the British) was established by Shears, Small & Taylor in 1826.

In 1829, when the British Iron Co took over, the site was already vast with six blast furnaces with refineries, rolling mill and puddling trains, its own collieries and a self-contained village of workers cottages.

Nostalgia is provided by Torfaen Museum.