Memories by George Carpenter
MEN from Cwm used to beat a path over the mountain every day to get to work at Llanover Colliery.
As many as 40 men and boys from the village tackled the steep sides of the valley through all seasons of the year.
And George Carpenter, from Marine Street in Cwm, was one of them.
He contacted the Gazette because he reckons he is the last man alive who worked in the old Llanover Colliery.
“I think I can claim without any boast, 1 am the last man alive who worked in Llanover colliery.
“There were over a hundred men working in 1919 when I started work at 14.
“I spent seven years in Llanover pit. There were about 40 of us, men and boys from Cwm.”
The daily trek took them past Manmoel village, catching their breath on the way before dropping down into the Sirhowy valley, then to their workplace, near the old Markham Colliery.
The hard, physical work had its dangers and one day George suffered a bad injury to one hand.
“I had a bad accident, I was working in an 18 inches high seam.
“Then I turned to clean the small coal away from the wheels of the trolley when it moved and crushed my finger.”
A work colleague was quick to help.
“George Ruk, he was a good man, he looked after me. He cleaned it up.”
Time in the steel industry at Ebbw Vale also formed part of George’s working life.
MINING MEMORIES: George Carpenter, from Cwm, reckon can prove him wrong, ring the Gazette on 304589.
After time with the old Ebbw Vale company, unloading iron ore, he left to join Me Alpines – a company working on the reconstruction of Ebbw Vale steelworks in the late 1930’s.
“One day, the manager of the new blast furnaces came up to me and asked me if 1 would like my old job back,” said George.
The result of that conversation was a period – working up the new plant – and a long association with Richard Thomas and Baldwins which lasted 34
Now in his 94th year, George is still fit and walks regularly.
Readers may remember in May last year George featured in the Gazette, having been given free rides on the Land Train in Festival Park as a reward for his energy and enthusiasm for the area.
• Do any readers remember walking over the mountains to work? If you want to share your memories of work in a different era, ring the Gazette on 304589.
Date of coverage1999
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