Photo: Mr J D Brazell, c1911 (Llais Llafur)

Coal Mining Heroes

The stories of many of the miners who worked at Tareni Colliery are recorded in the publication Tareni Colliery, using the words and terms for the tools and equipment used by the miners as spoken during the interviews. Many of the men who were miners considered themselves ordinary workers just carrying out an ordinary job such as cutting coal, pit sinking, timber working, hauling and smithing. But working in a deep dusty anthracite mine in the badly disturbed geology of the Swansea Valley region was no ordinary job. Many of the miners were very political and because of that Tareni Colliery was considered to be a Marxist pit. Among the miners who were in the political field was J. D. Brazell (photo above). His whole life history from working at Tareni Colliery in 1905, his family life, and his work as a local councillor are recorded in this book.

When J.D. Brazell passed away in 1935 his funeral cortege was over one mile long and extended from his home in the Varteg, Ystalyfera to his grave at Godre’r Graig cemetery overlooking Tareni Colliery and was led by a marching band at its head. This funeral cortege was the longest ever recorded in the Swansea Valley and was a tribute to a much-respected man and a mining comrade. The miners erected a large black marble column over his grave, a symbol of the coal he worked. This place should be a pilgrimage site for those interested in the social life of the past and of one man’s fight for justice for the communities he served.

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