The New Brithdir Lease July 1885
In April 1883 the Dowlais Iron Company (D.I.C.) reported that its current coal reserves were 19.5 million tons which comprised the Upper Four Feet Big Coal, Rhas Las, Little Vein and Lower Four Feet seams. The Top Coal and Red seams were not included since they were considered to be too dirty. At a rate of 20,000 tons per day it was estimated that this represented a 19 year working life. However, concern was registered about Bedlinog since its reserves were only considered to be 10 years.
In order to secure a better future for the Company, negotiations commenced with the Bute Estate for a lease on the largely untapped “Brithdir” reserves in the Bargoed Rhymney (Darran) valley which were to the east and south of Fochriw.
Initially, the Bargoed Coal Company also expressed an interest but they abandoned the idea of establishing a steam coal colliery in the Darran valley.
As part of the whole “Brithdir” coal take were other properties which were not owned by the Bute Estate, these being the farmland belonging to Tyla Du, Brithdir Uchaf, Brithdir Isaf, Penybank and Cwmllwydrew farms.
It was initially thought that a new pit would have to be established south of Fochriw and one of the places considered by the D.I.C. was on the Ysgwyddgwyn Uchaf farm.
There were also boundary grievances yet to be settled with Sir George Elliot (of Elliot’s Colliery in New Tredegar) and Powell Duffryn. Rumours also abounded that Elliot was also in negotiations to purchase the above mentioned private farmland to gain access to the “Brithdir” coal but this he denied in a letter to D.I.C.
The Bargoed Coal Company’s colliery to the south of Fochriw (was this Cil Haul?) was reported to be due for closure in October 1884 due to its reserves of the Brithdir seam becoming exhausted and the D.I.C. were offered the sale of the pumping plant in order to keep the water at a workable level should they be successful in acquiring the new Brithdir lease. However, since they determined that when the pumps stopped the water would find its way to the Rhymney Iron Company’s Darran Pit, they declined the offer, since the problem became someone elses.
Should a new pit be sunk a route for the transportation of the coal had to be determined and this would probably have been via the Brecon & Merthyr Railway above Deri Junction, where it met end-on with the Rhymney Railway, then over the D.I.C.’s own rail network at Fochriw Colliery via Fochriw Junction and onto Rhymney Railway metals from CwmBargoed, or if the Brecon & Merthyr Railway could be persuaded, via Fochriw and then over London & North Western metals from Dowlais Top direct to the Ifor Works at Dowlais.