Photographer's Note

Ferndale is a mining village in the valley of the Rhondda Fach river. The village came into being in the middle of the 19th century when David Davis of Blaengwawr in the neighbouring Cynon valley began to sink a pit that was to become known as Blaenllechau Colliery.

On Friday 8th of November 1867 the whole district of Ferndale was shaken by two consecutive explosions. 178 men and boys perished and a month had nearly past before all their remains had been recovered.
Just seventeen months later, on the 10th of June 1869, another explosion occurred at this fated colliery this time killing 53 men and boys.

On the 13th February 1908, Thomas Chester was working underground when he was struck and killed by a tram of coal. 29 years earlier Thomas Chester was one of the defenders of Rorke's Drift where 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded for bravery in the Anglo Zulu War 22/23rd January 1879. The action being immortalised in the film ''Zulu'' directed and starring Stanley Baker who was born in Ferndale.

Rhondda became synonymous with the production of high quality steam coal and by the end of the 19th century there were 75 collieries in the two valleys that make up Rhondda. Production peaked at 9.6 millions tons in a year. But the price of coal was expensive and that price was paid in blood. There were many disasters, the nearby National Colliery at Wattstown saw 120 killed in 1905. The last disaster took place on 17th May 1965 when 31 miners lost their lives. There are no coal mines left working in the Rhondda now.

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Additional Photos by Gerwyn Gibbs (gibbsy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 61 W: 0 N: 203] (1438)
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