More from Bargoed. I’ve always thought that colliery headstocks / headgears are massively symbolic, more than any other industrial structure. Their great height meant they loomed over their communities as a constant reminder to everyone of their working lives.
This selection of photos is about men and machines. The industrial revolution resulted in a huge demand for coal, and pits became increasingly mechanised, but they ultimately relied on manual labour to work in or on the seams, and this meant hot, hard, dirty and dangerous work.
Not too bad if you can walk round, but narrow seams required the miners to be in their hands and knees and from my experience of crawling round an old mine under Winter Hill in Bolton, I know how hard that is! 5 hours of that and I was physically exhausted, and I wasn’t even digging coal! Allied to the ever present dangers of collapse and explosions, this was not an easy life, and it is easy to look at these photos through rose tinted spectacles, ignoring the after effects of silicosis and vibration injuries.