Cloddio Glo/ Coal Mining

Gweithfeydd Glo Lleol

Mae cloddio glo yn un o’r nodweddion treftadaeth pwysicaf yn yr ardal. Dyma ffin gorllewinol maes glo De Cymru, ac yn sicr mae wedi bod yn un o’r dylanwadau mwyaf ar dirwedd a phatrymau aneddol cymunedau yr ardal yn ystod y 150 mlynedd diwethaf.

Mae’n debygol i’r cloddio cynharaf ddigwydd gan bobl leol ar gyfer eu dibenion eu hunain cyn y Chwyldro Diwydiannol – boed fel tanwydd i wresogi eu cartrefi neu er mwyn llosgi calch.

Roedd y cloddfeydd cynharaf yn eithaf elfennol, unai yn gloddfeydd drifft a phyllau syml neu rai pyllau tyfnach ar ffurf cloch. Mae cofnodion Dugaeth Lancaster ar gyfer Cwmwd Iscennen (Williams Rees, 1953) yn nodi bod gan denantiaid yr Arglwyddiaeth hawl i gloddio am lo ar gomin Y Mynydd Mawr yn ystod yr ail ganrif ar bymtheg ‘for necessary ffyre and burning of lyme’. Felly, mae’n amlwg bod cloddio ar raddfa fechan wedi bod y digwydd yn yr ardal yn ystod y cyfnod hwnnw. Mae olion odynnau calch i’w gweld hyd heddiw, er enghraifft yn Drefach.

Yn debyg i weddill maes glo caled Sir Gâr, ni fanteisiwyd ar gyflenwadau glo ardal Gorslas ar raddfa fawr tan y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg. Dechreuad y gweithgaredd cloddio – a gynyddodd yn raddol – oedd gwaith arloesol Thomas Kymer ym mhen isaf Cwm Gwendraeth tua diwedd y ddeunawfed ganrif pan adeiladodd gamlas bwrpasol i gario glo tua’r arfordir yng Ngydweli.

Yn ystod y cyfnod rhwng 1814 hyd at ddiwedd y 1830au, estynwyd Camlas Kymer i fod yn Gamlas Cwm Gwendraeth fyddai yn gwasanaethu datblygiad glofeydd yn rhan uchaf Cwm Gwendraeth gyda therfyn y gamlas yn Cwm Mawr. I fwydo’r gamlas fwy uchelgeisiol hon adeiladwyd cronfa ddŵr yng Nghwm-y-Glo i’r de o Gefneithin, a gellir gweld olion yr argae a llawr y gronfa rhwng y pentref a’r caeau chwarae yng Nghross Hands.

Byr fu oes y gamlas fodd bynnag gan iddi gael ei disodli gan Reilffordd Porth Tywyn a Chwm Gwendraeth a agorwyd yn 1869 a gosodwyd llawer o’r trac ar hyd llwybr blaenorol y gamlas oedd bellach wedi ei lenwi.

Byddai sawl blwyddyn yn mynd heibio fodd bynnag cyn i wythiennau glo ardal y Gwendraeth uchaf ddechrau cael eu mwyngloddio, gan gynnwys ardal Gorslas. Gwelwyd twf aruthrol o gloddio glo ac aneddiadau cysylltiol rhwng 1891 a 1921 wrth i bentrefi Cefneithin, Drefach a Gorslas ddatblygu. Ansawdd glo caled Sir Gâr a sefydlodd enw da i lo Cymreig yn rhyngwladol. Agorodd marchnadoedd newydd yn y cyfnod hwn, megis cyflenwi diwydiant gerddi masnachol yr Iseldiroedd, ble’r oedd gwres y glo caled yn ddelfrydol ar gyfer twymo tai gwydr gwresog. Roedd cyflwyno stôf oedd yn llosgi glo caled yn Sgandinafia ym 1880 ynghyd â datblygiadau mewn systemau gwres canolog yn ychwanegu at y farchnad danwydd domestig tramor, yn arbennig yn Ffrainc, yr Almaen a’r Eidal. Tybiwyd taw glo caled oedd yn gweddu orau ar gyfer ffyrnau neu danau caeëdig systemau gwres canolog newydd, yn hytrach nag i losgi ar aelwydydd agored. Ni ddefnyddiwyd glo caled fel tanwydd i gynhesu cartrefi y tu hwnt i’r meysydd glo caled eu hunain. Gwelodd y marchnadoedd newydd gynnydd o 300% o allbwn o feysydd glo De Cymru.

Ni chyrhaeddodd allbwn lleol uchafbwynt tan yn gymharol hwyr. Yn ystod y 1920au, diflanodd y cwmnïau mwyngloddio annibynnol bychain a ffurfiwyd cwmnïau cyfunol ar hyd a lled y maes glo caled, megis United Anthracite Collieries Limited, a reolai nifer fawr o byllau yn ardal Rhydaman a Chwm Gwendraeth. Dyma gyfnod a welodd gynnydd o fewn y diwydiant yn y defnydd o beirianyddiaeth a gwelliannau technegol oedd yn cryfhau effeithiolrwydd ac allbwn y pyllau glo.

Daeth blwyddyn fwyaf cynhyrchiol glo caled De Cymru cyn hwyred â 1934 pan gloddiwyd 6,000 miliwn tunnell ohono, a hynny ar waetha dirwasgiad byd-eang. Gwerthwyd glo caled i ystod eang o farchnadoedd – o’r diwydiant bragu cwrw i’r diwydiant systemau gwresogi canolog – fel na effeithiwyd ar y galw am lo caled gan y dirwasgiad. O ganol y 1930au, dirywiodd sefyllfa cloddio glo yn Sir Gâr – ar wahan i gyfnod o fuddsoddi a’r hyder a ddaeth yn sgȋl gwladoli yn 1947. Fe welwyd mwy o ddibyniaeth ar ddatblygiad gwaith glo brig yn hytrach na phyllau dwfn fel ym Mlaenhirwaun ar ddiwedd y 1970au, ond daeth diwedd ar  gynhyrchu ar raddfa fawr yn 1992.

Dim ond llond llaw o byllau llwyddiannus ddiwedd y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg a dechrau’r ugeinfed ganrif a fodolai yn yr ardal, sef Gors Goch, Clos yr Ynn, Clos Uchaf a Chwm Mawr.

Local Coal Mining

Coal mining is one of the most important heritage themes in the area and has certainly been one of the most influential forces that have determined the development of the landscape and settlement patterns of Gorslas community during the past 150 years.

Most coal mined in the Gorslas district before the Industrial Revolution was probably extracted by local people for their own use – either as domestic fuel or for lime burning. Early coal workings were simple affairs, either small drift workings and simple coal pits or perhaps some deeper bell pits. The records of the Duchy of Lancaster for the Commote of Iscennen (Williams Rees, 1953) tell us that tenants of the Lordship were entitled to mine coal on the Mynydd Mawr common ‘for necessary ffyre and burning of lyme’ during the seventeen century. Therefore, it is evident that mining on a limited scale would indeed have been carried out in this area during that period.

In common with the rest of the Carmarthenshire anthracite coalfield, the coal reserves of the Gorslas district were not exploited to any great scale until the late nineteenth century. Thomas Kymer’s pioneering work in the lower Gwendraeth valley area in the later eighteenth century, where a purpose built canal was used to carry coal to the coast at Kidwelly, was the beginning of a gradual increase in mining activity.

During the period from 1814 up to the late 1830s, Kymer’s Canal was extended as the Gwendraeth Valley Canal, with its terminus at Cwmmawr, to aid the development of collieries in the upper Gwendraeth area.  A feeder reservoir for this more ambitious canal was built at Cwmyglo, just south of Cefneithin, and the dam and the now drained reservoir bowl can still be clearly seen between the village and the playing fields at Crosshands.  The canal was relatively short-lived however, being replaced by the Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley Railway, which opened in 1869 and had much of its track laid along the line of the infilled canal.

It would be several decades, however, before industrial-scale exploitation of the coal seams of the upper Gwendraeth, including the Gorslas area, would be seen.  There was a dramatic expansion of coal mining and associated settlement growth between 1891 and 1921.  It was Carmarthenshire anthracite that established Welsh coal as an internationally acclaimed fuel.

New markets open up during this period, such as supplying the market gardening industry of the Netherlands, for which anthracite coal proved ideal to heat its hothouses.  The invention of an anthracite burning stove in Scandinavia in 1880 as well as new developments in central heating added to the overseas domestic fuel market, particularly in France, Germany and Italy.  Anthracite was seen as a fuel suited best to the closed ovens or fires of new central heating systems, rather than for burning on an open hearth.  It was rarely used as a household coal outside the anthracite coalfield.  The new markets saw a 300% increase in the output of the South Wales coalfields.

Locally, coal output peaked relatively late on.  During the 1920s, the small, independent colliery firms faded away and new combines were formed across the anthracite coalfield, such as the United Anthracite Collieries Limited, which controlled many mines in the Ammanford and Gwendraeth valley districts.  This was a period that saw increased mechanisation within the industry, technical improvements that consolidated existing pits.  The year of peak production of South Wales anthracite was as late as 1934 when over 6,000 million tons was mined, despite a world recession.  Anthracite was sold to such a varied range of markets – from brewing to central heating systems, that it was relatively unaffected by the recession in terms of demand.  From the mid-1930s, coal mining in Carmarthenshire declined, apart from a period of renewed investment and confidence that followed nationalisation in 1947, until the effective end of large-scale production by the 19902, which was by that time largely dependent on opencast rather than deep mining.

Only a few successful pits of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century date – Gors Goch, Clos-y-yn, Clos-uchaf and Cwmmawr were found within the community area.

Font size
Colors