The Visitors' Centre at the Rhondda Heritage Park provides the opportunity to explore the domestic and commercial aspects of Valley life in the fascinating artefact exhibitions and the indoor village street. The Visitors' Centre also houses the Rhondda Heritage Park Gallery, an excellent gift shop and quality restaurant. The visitor can experience the unique character and culture of the Rhondda Valleys through the audio-visual presentation "Black Gold - The Story of Coal". Journey back in time and see the Rhondda through the eyes of three generations of one local mining family. The exhibitions in the Trefor and Bertie Winding Houses and in the Fan House all portray part of the Black Gold story. In the Trefor Winding House, your narrator, Bryn Rees, guides you through the lively and evocative story of his own and his forefathers' lives. Transported back to 1958, you join Bryn in the middle of the working shift and reminiscences of life in the colliery prepare you for your own trip underground, on the tour 'A Shift in Time'. In the Bertie Winding House, Bryn introduces his grandfather, Thomas Rees, and they escort you further back in time to the 1850's. Dramatic events in the Rhondda's history are portrayed: the 1877 Tynewydd Colliery Disaster when five men were trapped underground for nine days; the notorious Tonypandy Riots, when troops were sent to the Valleys to keep public order; and A J Cook's fight for a minimum wage in the 1920's.
Take the trip of a lifetime on the "underground" tour called "A Shift in Time". Journey through time to experience for yourself the hardship and joys, the sights, sounds and smells, of Lewis Merthyr Colliery at work. Join your ex-miner guide in the Lamp Room and prepare yourself for a shift in the safest pit in South Wales! Please remember to wear practical shoes and clothing. From the Lamp Room you walk to the Trefor Pithead to commence your shift. Here just like a working miner, you ride down in a cage to pit bottom and emerge into the Lewis Merthyr Colliery of the past. Transported back in time, your senses take a moment to adjust and the realities of life underground begin to reveal themselves to you. You can explore the roadways and workings of the colliery and moving on through the air lock you are engulfed by smells and heat of the mine, with its changing atmospheric pressures, increasing darkness and humidity. Before reaching the coal face you are able to detonate your own explosion and, of course, hear and feel the effects resounding around you. At the coal face the noise and heat reach almost terrifying levels. In the distance you are able to see shadows of men hard at work, the toll of their labour laid out in front of you. Finally an exciting and unique ride completes your shift of a lifetime. You are catapulted through dark and twisting tunnels. A mysterious and unforgettable route back to the surface!
It is recommended that at least 3 hours is allowed for a visit. Purpose built paths for wheelchairs users provide easy access, even underground. For health and safety reasons only part of the tour is underground, the rest is simulated.
Open as the Gyfeillon Pit August 1851 by John Calvert [1812-1890], later renamed Great Western Colliery. Hetty Shaft was sunk in 1875 to 392 yards. There were three pits in this colliery Hetty Pit [downcast, later upcast] No No 2 and Pit No 3 [downcast]. On Tuesday,April 11, 1893 there was a fire in the colliery and 63 men and boys died.
The Great Western Colliery continued producing coal for many years after disaster, and the deaths still continued. The Hetty shaft was closed in 1926, but remained as an upcast shaft for the Tymawr Colliery. The No.2 and No.3 shafts. the old Tymawr shaft were closed the same year and a new Tymawr Pit was opened up. In 1928 the colliery came under the ownership of the Powell Dyffryn Coal Co. remained so until the mines were nationalised in 1947. In 1958 the Lewis Merthyr Colliery, a mile or two North-west of the former Great Western Collieries amalgamated with the latter and joined underground, at which time coal winning stopped at the former and materials ceased going down at Tymawr. In 1969 combined collieries were officially named the Tymawr and Lewis Merthyr Colliery. The last dram of coal raised at the Tymawr colliery was on June 21st 1983 and colliery was demolished soon after. Today only the head frame and winding engine house and steam winding engine of the Hetty Pit survive. It was originally intended to be incorporated into the Rhondda Heritage Museum, but its future is now unclear. The Hetty winding house and engine are now being renovated by volunteers under supervision of Mr. Brian Davies of the Pontypridd Museum.
Nearest mine is Great Western Colliery, about half a mile away.
Description from rhychydwr1