Nant-y-moel and Ogmore Vale
A wintery look at an old mining valley
(Photos/words © editor, urban75, December 26th 2007)
On a cold and damp late December afternoon, we took a trip through Ogmore Vale into Nant-y-moel and then up on to Mynydd William Meyrick and Craig Ogwr.
It has to be said that the scenery gave us a heavy heart: both villages looked like they'd never recovered the loss of the mining industry in the eighties, and the heavy winter sky compounded the feeling of desolation.
The area has not only lost its rail connection years ago, but some of its best buildings are no longer here.
The magnificent 1909 Ogmore Vale Workmen's Hall & Institute was regarded as one of the finest working mans' halls in South Wales, until the building collapsed on 12th March 1981. The Bingo night fortunately evacuating before doom struck after cracks started appeared on the walls.
Ogmore Vale's fine 1880 Gwalia Stores, have also vanished, but happily the building was transferred and rebuilt, brick by brick, at the National Museum of Welsh Life St Fagans.
Blandy Terrace and Heol-Y-Fedwen, Nantymoel
Looking out across Nant-y-moel.
For over a century (1865 to 1984), the coal industry provided employment for valley communities and created vast wealth for Britain, but working conditions were notoriously bad and the workers dreadfully exploited:
Despite being amongst the most prolific in the country, the Rhondda pits proved to be extremely difficult to mine. The deep seams which provided the highly prized steam coals were both gaseous and fiery, and consequently work was hard and always fraught with danger.
All too often explosions, roof falls and other everyday accidents resulted in crippling injuries or death. Industrial diseases like pneumoconiosis caused near suffocation and almost inevitably proved fatal. A further hazard was from nystagmus, an eye disorder contracted through working in low light levels. This condition caused not only blindness but could, when untreated, cause insanity.
Other common ailments suffered by miners were ruptures, rheumatism and blood poisoning. On average, during the 46 years prior to World War I (1868 - 1914), 1 miner was killed every 6 hours, with a further 12 being seriously injured daily.
This sad little monument was built in 1955 to commemorate the founding of the Wyndham Health Society.
It came as no surprise to see it broken, vandalised and missing hands.
Christmas tree dumped into a drain in a road at Nant-y-moel.
Nantymoel Social Club & Institute Ltd, Commercial Street, established 1929.
Heading up towards Craig Ogwr with the road flanked by Forestry Commission land.
Mist over the mountains.
Looking south west from Bwlch Y Clawdd, with Cwmparc and Treorchy in the distance.
The last scheduled passenger service left Nantymoel station on the 3rd May 1958, further isolating the community.
The line, opened on the 1st August 1865, ran to Porthcawl giving access to the vast reserves of high quality house coals and dry steam coals of the valley.
Hand painted sign from 1967.
Detail from the sign at Bwlch Y Clawdd.
Road signs and mountain.
Sheep checking us out and eyeing our sandwiches with great interest.
A view from the vantage point near Bwlch Y Clawdd.
The text of Psalm 104.24 has been written (in Welsh and English) onto a metal plate and stuck to a rock at Bwlch Y Clawdd.
Discarded beer cans and signs full of bullet holes.
The road into Cwmparc and Treorchy in the Rhondda.
Road signs and mist.
Taking a walk on the public footpath by Bwlch.
A huge swathe of trees had been recently cut down, with freezing cold winds blasting across the empty land.
Several walks criss-cross the area - I imagine they'd make for some lovely walks in summer, but it was a bit of a bleak place to be in mid winter.
More: Ogmore-by-sea photos, 2008
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